Great news! ParkrunUK is planning a return this October.
The news is merely a day old, but the excitement is almost tangible. Having endured an imposed 6-month break from our much-loved Saturday run-around-the-park is set to return. And with an aim to start back by the end of October, this could be as little as 6 or 7 weeks away.
But, are we ready?
Looking at social media, yes, most definitely! People are already looking forward to their first run back.
Best news for a while. For those who are uncomfortable it’s fully understandable and you’ll take your own decision based on the level of risk you’re comfortable with. I’ll be back like a shot— Tony Collier BEM (@ethansgrumps) September 7, 2020
As well as keen runners who enjoy any extra opportunity to run, the news will be of particular interest to a number of disadvantaged groups. The events have been applauded for their social inclusiveness, providing benefit to those suffering social anxiety and mental health issues. And the health benefits from inexpensive physical exercise can't be overlooked, especially for those who can't always afford not-always-cheap 5K race fees.
Understandably, others are much less keen.
In a world where we continue to be told it is best to keep our distance from others, and infections are beginning to rise significantly, it seems odd to go and put hundreds of people together. Coronavirus spreads 'like wildfire'. So every event could be putting many at risk.
On the day after tremendous rises in infections in England (~3,000) this is announced- very poor timing indeed. There is no opportunity to socially distance oneself at parkrun and every opportunity to spread COVID in effectively wind tunnels of breathed out air. #notsafe #covid— Dr. James D. Borderick (@DrBorderick) September 7, 2020
And the fact that Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are not entertaining any such events merits some consideration.
There are many perspectives, arguments and counter-arguments. There is good reason to be concerned. Coronavirus can be a killer. Meanwhile, races are going on, without any obvious harm, a perfect example being Sunday's RunThrough 5K and 10K at Battersea Park. In the end, we just hope Parkrun listen to the right people and receive the best advice. We wish them well.