I’m writing to you to let you know that as a fellow parkrunner I am here for you during this time and wish to reassure you that the parkrun family, that I started in 2004, is as strong as it has ever been. We will get through this together, and I know that parkrun, just as it has helped me through many difficult times, will rise to the challenge presented by the Coronavirus and be there for all of us.
However, this coming Saturday, for the first time in 15 years, we will wake up to a world where there is no parkrun to go to, and I think we’re all just trying to process what that really means.
Over the years, parkrun has become a refuge for thousands of people – an island of calm in often choppy seas. It was, and continues to be, my support network during challenging times in my life. And I know it is a dependable lifeline for so many people across the globe.
But, as the world responds to the growing Coronavirus pandemic, we have had to make the incredibly difficult, but absolutely correct, decision to suspend parkrun events in every territory in which we operate.
Over the years you’ve told us how parkrun has changed and saved lives, how our events have helped those dealing with isolation, loneliness, depression, anxiety and more.
I want you to know that even if we cannot physically get together on a Saturday (or Sunday) morning as we have become used to, we will keep our promise of supporting you. We will find other ways.
Across 22 countries and 2,100 locations, parkrun is a family. A family united by a shared purpose. Our mission of a healthier, happier planet is now more important than ever. How we respond to this ongoing global crisis and support each other to maintain good physical and mental health in incredibly challenging circumstances is vital.
Whilst we understand the reasons why, it is cruel that parkrun has been taken away from us, when at any other time of crisis, it would be the very thing that provides solace, comfort and a short period of escapism. We appreciate how challenging this is going to be for so many, but please know that we will not abandon you.
We understand that remaining physically active is critical, but the need for social distancing at this time is paramount. Please can I ask that you respect this guidance and do not organise gatherings either officially or unofficially at your parkrun venue (or elsewhere) for the duration our events are suspended. Doing so will risk the good reputation of our parkrun communities.
Now more than ever it’s important we stick together. That we find new and creative ways to help those in need. That we continue to support each other.
We’ll be a shoulder to cry on. We’ll try harder than ever to stay positive, to entertain and engage, to motivate and inspire. No doubt we’ll take a trip down memory lane and tell some of our favourite stories from 15 and a half years of parkrun.
But we’ll look forward too. We’ll look forward to a time when all of this is over. When we can once again regroup in our local parks, enjoy each other’s company, be active and share the best part of the week together.
We will get through this, together.
Stay safe and healthy
Paul Sinton-Hewitt CBE
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