News - 23rd April 2021

Restarting in England – weekly update 23 April


As part of our plans to restart parkrun and junior parkrun across England, we are publishing a UK-specific update every Friday to keep ambassadors, event teams, parkrun communities, and landowners informed on the progress we are making towards events restarting.


5k events in England


When the Government published their Roadmap for England back in February, we announced our intent to reopen English junior events on Sunday 11 April, and English 5k events on Saturday 5 June. Since then, junior parkrun has returned successfully and we now have 155 junior events in England either reopened or with a confirmed start date over the next few weeks.


Importantly, for every parkrun or junior parkrun event it’s vital that we liaise with local landowners in order to achieve permission to reopen. And whilst junior events can return bit-by-bit, the large majority of our 5k events need to come back at the same time otherwise those locations that did open would be overwhelmed with excess numbers.


Mindful of the need to achieve as many permissions as possible, we therefore waited longer to request landowner permission for our 5k events to return. This delay allowed time for a number of key things to happen:


  • It gave landowners themselves more time to gain relevant and up-to-date evidence on which to base their decisions.
  • Increased vaccine roll-out and reduced infection levels strengthened public confidence and certainty in a more positive future.
  • It allowed other businesses to return and events to open, further increasing confidence that parkrun events are safe.
  • It provided the time required for us to achieve support from key national stakeholders.
  • We commissioned an independent expert report, published today, into parkrun-specific infection risk, affirming the widely held belief (underpinning much Government guidance), that outdoor environments are incredibly low risk.
  • It allowed us to complete significant internal administrative work such that the process of reopening nearly 600 events at the same time can proceed as smoothly as possible.
  • And, for a few weeks, we were able to focus largely on the successful return of junior parkrun events.


All of that work is now complete. England is successfully progressing through the Government’s Roadmap, infections are falling and vaccines are being rolled out. And as such, early next week, we will be writing to all landowners of English 5k events and requesting permission to reopen from Saturday 5 June.


These requests for permission will include a detailed account of the guidance and evidence that underpins and justifies the timing of our intended return, as well as the considerations behind the development of our COVID-19 Framework.


At the same time as writing to all our English landowners, and in the spirit of transparency, we will be publishing all of the information contained within our permission request pack. Allowing all parkrunners to fully understand the evidence and justifications behind our return, enabling them to make their own informed decisions as to whether or not they wish to participate in our events in June.


Whilst we must respect the fact that some landowners may not have the ability to host our events from as early as Saturday 5 June, and we fully understand that they will also have their own pressures and time commitments, we will be urging them to respond in sufficient time such that we can best understand our situation going forward.


At this point in time, we are confident that the large majority of parkrun events will successfully reopen, in England, on Saturday 5 June. However it is important to understand that if we do not achieve sufficient levels of permission in advance of that date, the return of our 5k events may be delayed.


Throughout the next four weeks we will endeavour to keep the parkrun community as informed as possible, and we hope to be able to regularly celebrate and share positive news as landowners around the country welcome our events back into their parks and open spaces. As they have done with junior parkrun.


junior parkrun


As mentioned above, the return of junior parkrun across England has proved incredibly successful. Last Sunday, 79 junior events took place, with 6,460 children walking, jogging, or running, and another 1,894 children and adults volunteering.


This coming Sunday we have another 27 junior events returning, with 29 the Sunday after that, and many more already scheduled for subsequent weeks.


Perhaps most excitingly, we also have a date of Sunday 9 May for our first Welsh junior parkrun event to reopen, and further significant progress behind the scenes considering junior parkrun in Northern Ireland and Scotland.


Finally, as a result of our experiences over the last couple of weeks we have made a couple of junior-parkrun-specific changes to our COVID-19 Framework.


  • See sections 6b and 8b regarding start and finish areas
  • junior parkrun events now require one scanning volunteer per 25 finishers (see section 8.i.ii)
  • Example pre-event briefs now include the text “Please hold your hand out for a finish token” (see section 15)


Thanks for your continued support,


Tom Williams

Chief Operating Officer

parkrun Global


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