Coronavirus: Athletes warned to stay away from parkruns

Amid times unprecedented since WWII, parkrun founder Paul Sinton-Hewitt has pleaded with runners to maintain the good reputation of the weekly events by staying away during the UK Coronavirus lockdown.

Thursday, 26th March 2020, 2:35 pm
Updated Thursday, 26th March 2020, 2:38 pm
A group of Lothian Running Club parkrunners

At the end of last week thousands of parkrunners across Scotland – including members of local groups Linlithgow Athletic Club and Lothian Running Club – received the news they were dreading, each and every parkrun in the UK was to be called off with immediate effect.

As founder Sinton-Hewitt put it bluntly: “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.”

Following a week of race cancellations, stern government advice and a raft of recommendations for race organisers and clubs from scottish athletics, the news didn’t exactly come as a shock.

On Friday, the list of countries where parkrun was cancelled stood at 15, by Tuesday it was 17, by Wednesday it was all 22, including the UK.

Most parkrunners have taken the news of their local event being called off for the foreseeable future with good grace, but some remain unmoved.

There have been social media reports of runners still planning to gather in numbers at their usual events, in defiance of the closures and government advice and, most disappointingly, against the express wishes of parkrun.

Paul Sinton-Hewitt pleaded with runners to respect the closures.

He added: “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.”

The Coronavirus pandemic, which has seen other 300,000 people infected worldwide, has led to the end of normal life as we know it.

The sporting calendar has been completely wiped out, with Tuesday’s postponement of the Olympic Games until 2021 being the latest one.