On your marks! Parkrun set to return - with new safety measures

PUBLISHED: 12:17 08 September 2020 | UPDATED: 16:43 08 September 2020

New Year's Day parkrun 2020 on Felixstowe beach - parkruns are set to return next month  Picture: ARCHANT

New Year's Day parkrun 2020 on Felixstowe beach - parkruns are set to return next month Picture: ARCHANT

RACHEL EDGE

Thousands of runners across Suffolk are celebrating the news that parkrun is set to return - but how different will it be?

Felixstowe parkrun is set to return with others across the area Picture: ARCHANTFelixstowe parkrun is set to return with others across the area Picture: ARCHANT

Organisers of regular runs around the area are busy finalising plans, following the announcement that events in England will restart in late October.

Graham Rodgers, East Suffolk ambassador for parkrun and Ipswich parkrun event director, said: “I am totally delighted that we are now talking about parkrun returning.

“People are very excited and very pleased. We posted about it on the Ipswich parkrun Facebook page and have already had lots of likes and positive feedback.”

He said all the parkruns which were running locally before lockdown would be returning, with a raft of safety measures in place.

An Ipswich parkrun before lockdown Picture: IPSWICH PARKRUN FACEBOOK PAGEAn Ipswich parkrun before lockdown Picture: IPSWICH PARKRUN FACEBOOK PAGE

“We are doing a whole range of things,” Mr Rodgers said. “We will keep the briefings at the start to just a couple of minutes, and keep overtaking to a minimum.”

He said the areas for starts and finishes would be lengthened out to help social distancing, adding: “We have got plenty of space at most of our runs.”

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Runners will be encouraged to start at the right place in the line-up for where they are likely to finish, depending on their individual times.

Runners at Ipswich parkrun before lockdown Picture: IPSWICH PARKRUN FACEBOOK PAGERunners at Ipswich parkrun before lockdown Picture: IPSWICH PARKRUN FACEBOOK PAGE

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At Felixstowe, space on the beach at the start of the route is quite narrow, but Mr Rodgers said the briefing before the race would be carried out on a nearby green area where there was more space.

Other safety measures will include replacing all the equipment for parkruns and using apps on volunteers’ own phones, rather than timers which have to be handled by more than one person, to register times. Sadly, it will also not be possible for runners to do things like getting together for coffee in Chantry Park after the run, as they have done in the past.

Runners will also be urged to support their own local parkrun rather than travelling to other areas.

Mr Rodgers said people had really missed parkrun. “It’s not just about the exercise - it’s about bringing the community together.”

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Global chief executive officer for parkrun Nick Pearson announced the planned reopening last night, saying parkrun and junior parkrun events in England would resume toward the end of October.

There is no definite date, and obviously things could alter if the coronavirus situation changes locally or nationally, but parkrun organisers nationally have been in close contact with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), Sport England, and Public Health England to ensure parkrun can resume safely.

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