Hopes rise of Harrogate Parkrun returning and here's the date for the likely first event as lockdown eases

Is Harrogate Parkrun about to make its return shortly to bring a bright end to what has been a bleak 12 months in many ways for local runners? The good news is that it is looking positive.

Thursday, 6th May 2021, 10:43 am
Nidd Valley Road Runners' Ladies Captain Sarah Staiano with other club members volunteering at at Harrogate Parkrun on the Stray in pre-Covid times.

While national organisers weigh up the pros and cons of restarting the hugely popular weekly 5k runs across the country - and just how to achieve that as lockdown eases - in Harrogate fans of the event are keeping their fingers crossed.

Free-to-enter and marshalled by volunteers, it’s a question which affects not just Harrogate Parkrun which was first held on the Stray in 2012, but neighbouring events at Conyngham Hall in Knaresborough and Fountain’s Abbey near Ripon.

Sarah Staiano, a regular helper at Harrogate Parkrun who is also a member of Nidd Valley Road Runners, said everyone was hoping the event would return in June in a safe way.

She said: “Harrogate Parkrun is brilliant. As Ladies Captain of Harrogate’s friendly running club, Nidd Valley Road Runners, we regularly support Parkrun by filling all of the volunteer roles on a given Saturday. It’s a brilliant event.

"The friendly and inclusive Parkrun ethos mirrors our club values.

“I, like so many others, have missed Harrogate Parkrun enormously and can’t wait for it to start again.”

The arrival of the Covid pandemic in March 2020 not only stopped Parkruns everywhere in their tracks but also had a devastating impact on club championships and regular races nationwide.

But, as restrictions on meeting up start to relax, new hope is seeping into the thousands of members in the running community in the Harrogate district.

Since Harrogate Parkrun started in 2012, a total of 16,670 runners have completed the 5k course on the Stray.

One of Harrogate Parkrun's organisers Ted Welton told the Harrogate Advertiser he was hopeful for a return next month but nothing was set in stone yet.

Mr Welton said: "We are just waiting for confirmation from Harrogate Borough Council and a few other details to allow us to confirm we will be going ahead on June 5.

"But it all looks positive at the moment."

At a national level, Parkrun founder Paul Sinton-Hewitt has been lobbying landowners to allow a potential return on June 5, with a warning that the majority of the events had to return at the same time to prevent them being overwhelmed.

A spokesperson for Harrogate Borough Council said it supported the return of Parkrun if organisers confirmed all Covid safe measures were in place.

However, as the next few weeks unfold, Sarah Staiano like many others is urging people to get ready to run again - and get volunteering.

She said: “I have been a volunteer since 2013. Volunteering seemed an obvious way to give straight back to something that had given me so much, so I began to do it regularly.

"There are many different roles you can try, but marshal and funnel manager are probably my two favourites, mainly because you can cheer on and congratulate the runners, so these two are really positive roles to help and motivate others.

"Parkrun isn't just about the running; the friendship, camaraderie and social aspects are fantastic, too. I would encourage anyone to volunteer when it returns.”

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