Parkrun has postponed the restart of running events until the end of July, after the government delayed further lifting of lockdown restrictions in England.
The charity behind the running events, Parkrun Global, said that it is now aiming to resume on 24 July, after the government announced yesterday that some Covid-19 restrictions will not be relaxed for another month.
The latest delay comes after Parkrun confirmed on Friday that it intended to restart activities at the end of June, after securing agreement from the vast majority of landowners which host its events. However, many of these agreements depended on government restrictions being lifted on time.
Parkrun had initially aimed to return on 5 June, but did not secure the support of enough landowners on time.
A spokesperson for the charity acknowledged that the latest decision would be “disappointing” for the tens of thousands of people who attend its events every week.
Targeting a new start date
In a statement online, Parkrun said: “Following the announcement this evening from the prime minister, confirming a delay to step 4 of the roadmap until Monday 19 July 2021, it is now our intention that 5k events in England will restart on Saturday 24 July.
“A huge amount of work has been done in recent weeks to ensure we have permission to return from the large majority of landowners.
“Whilst this delay is disappointing, we respect the fact that a significant number of these permissions were contingent on the country moving into step 4, and we will therefore target a new reopening date of Saturday 24 July.”
Attempts to restart events has brought Parkrun into conflict with other charities which host some of its activities.
The Woodland Trust decided in May that it would no longer host Parkrun events on its land in Tring, saying that ongoing use was “unsustainable” in an area which saw “several significant and sensitive ecosystems”.
Responding on social media, Tom Williams, the chief operating officer at Parkrun Global, said that Parkrun “doesn't seem to place any impact whatsoever on the park” and described the decision as “so incredibly disappointing”.
Meanwhile, 17 of the 21 events held on National Trust land in England have been given permission to return as of the start of this week. None of these permissions were in place a month ago.
Parkrun Global was publicly backed in recent weeks by the prime minister, culture secretary and sports heroes including Sebastian Coe, in its bid to win the landowner agreements it said were necessary to return.
Nick Pearson, the chief executive of Parkrun Global, admitted last year that the organisation's leadership had “come in for criticism” over its handling of the coronavirus crisis, which he said was complicated by the additional requirements placed on the organisation after it became a charity in 2017.