New delay for return of Harrogate's popular Parkrun as date is rescheduled

A late rush of approvals by landowners and local authorities across England has failed to bring back Parkuns this month after a delay to the roadmap out of Covid restrictions.

Friday, 18th June 2021, 3:11 pm
Updated Friday, 18th June 2021, 3:34 pm
Flashback to a Parkrun event on the Stray in Harrogate before the Covid pandemic.

Everything had seemed to be on track for the popular weekly community 5k run to return as planned at 9am on June 26, especially in Harrogate where the council had signalled its agreement to Parkrun's return weeks ago.

After previous hopes to hold Parkrun for the first time since the pandemic were dashed, the problem this time was the event's national organisers felt they should either bring all of the free-to-enter events across England back or none at all, partly for fear of overcrowding at the ones which did return.

Until recently hundreds of Parkruns were still up in the air as landowners and local authorities took a cautious approach, leading to a desperate appeal by World Athletics president Lord Coe to decision makers to support what he described as "one of the nation's greatest public health initiatives."

But last week saw a further 500 sites given the go-ahead which meant Parkrun's national team were safe to give the green light.

Then the Government announced a four-week delay to the roadmap which would see stage four ending all remaining restrictions.

As a result, all Parkrun events - including the Stray in Harrogate, Conyngham Hall in Knaresborough and Fountains Abbey near Ripon - have now been put back to July 24.

A statement posted on the Harrogate Parkrun website said:

"On Monday evening, following the announcement by the government of the delay to Step 4, we confirmed that we were pushing back the return of parkrun events in England.

"This is because a number of permissions were contingent on the country moving to Step 4 and the associated restrictions being lifted.

"Despite this, we retain legal permission for parkrun events to resume, our COVID Framework continues to be valid and is approved by the government.

"With permission in place to restart over 520 parkrun events in England, we will now work towards reopening on Saturday 24 July."

In total there are 729 Parkruns across the UK and more than two million runners have taken part in the timed runs since they were first launched in 2002.

Since Harrogate Parkrun started in 2012, a total of 16,670 runners have completed the 5k course on the Stray in a free to enter run marshalled by volunteers.

The new date for restarting is only the latest in a list of previous dates over the last year which have come and gone without a single step being taken by a running shoe.

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