Runners and spectators were out in force at the London Marathon Events Reunion 5K at Kempton Park on Saturday. The event, part of the Government's Events Research Programme, was designed to investigate Coronavirus transmission without social distancing.
Almost 2,000 (1,874) runners took part in the event. All attendants were required to show evidence of a negative lateral-flow test prior to the event.
Two races took place, one (race A) with social-distancing, and another (race B) without COVID safety measures. Different sets of runners (approximately,1,000 in each race) and spectators were present each time. Any diferences, including infection rates, will be tracked.
Runners performed well in both races. Freddie Slemeck (Hercules Wimbledon) won race A with a time of 15:26. A total of 86 runners finished with sub-20 minute times, including first female, Georgina Parker with a time of 18:53. A total of 785 runners finished in 47:05. Race B, which attracted more entrants, was won by Steph McCall (Herne Hill Harriers) with a time of 17:37. Another 124 athletes joined her with sub-20 minute finishes. And a total of 1,089 participants finished in 49:58.
Opinon is widley supportive of the experiment. Hugh Brasher, Event Director for London Marathon Events, who also ran in the second race, said " This is such a significant step towards the return of mass participation events across the UK – from parkrun to the London Marathon. We all need the joy and inspiration of running together again – it’s so important for the mental and physical health of the nation."Sports Minister Nigel Huddlestone said the Reunion 5k could help provide “essential data on the safe return of mass participation events”.
A wealth of useful data will come from the race. As well as the pre-admission lateral flow test, all runners and spectators were required to take a COVID-19 PCR test on the day of the event. They will then be asked to provide a second PCR test on Thursday. The result should give some insight into infection rates for the two races. And this will, hopefully, speed up the return to 'normal', at least for sporting events.