Parkrun will finally resume on 26 June in England following a huge rush of late approvals over the past 24 hours. The news will delight the 300,000 regular participants in the free 5km-timed event, and marks a significant victory for organisers who had feared an impasse that would take months to settle.
The decision, which was first revealed by the Guardian, came after more than 500 of the 589 local councils and landowners across England gave permission for the restart.
Crucially parkrun also now has enough events in major cities, including London, Manchester and Newcastle, to avoid some events being overwhelmed.
“It has been an incredible team effort, through what has undoubtedly been one of the most challenging times in parkrun’s 17-year history,” parkrun’s global chief operating officer Tom WIlliams said. “We cannot wait to see local communities in England reunited on a Saturday morning, coming together again in the fresh air, to be social together in the great outdoors.”
Parkrun’s original restart date was pushed back three weeks after only a third of landowners gave permission and organisers were fearing the worst again as late as Thursday morning.
At that point there were 100,000 parkrunners in the north east who were registered for events that did not have permission to take place – however in the space of 24 hours that figure came down to 8,000. Meanwhile, London now has just shy of 40 approvals from 56 events, when it had just three in mid-May.
However parkrun organisers warned that their decision was subject to any changes in the roadmap announced by the prime minister on Monday 14 June.
“The prime minister’s announcement may have a material impact on our ability to reopen on 26 June,” admitted Williams. “However, we are celebrating today, as we now know that parkrun will return in England before too long, and we cannot wait to see the magic of parkrun enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of participants every week, very soon.”
Insiders also praised a cross-party alliance of politicians, including the culture secretary Oliver Dowden, London mayor Sadiq Khan and Tory MP David Davis, for helping parkrun overcome a combination of obstacles including misunderstanding the government’s roadmap, reluctance, hesitation and unnecessary red tape from councils.
A key intervention from World Athletics president Seb Coe, and the support of the public and media, also played its part. It was Coe who warned last month that the future of parkrun was under threat if it didn’t resume this summer, adding: “As more of everyday life returns, we must not forget about the things that quietly, efficiently, (perhaps almost without us noticing), offer some of the greatest benefits of all.”