Wesley Botton
Chief sports writer
2 minute read
12 Oct 2020
6:14 am

Determined parkrun organisers search for a solution

Wesley Botton

To proceed, organisers need to find a way to host events without exceeding government enforced limitations.

Runners participating in the 5km Alberts Farm parkrun before the weekly events were placed on hold. Picture: Michel Bega

Seven months after the popular weekly events were suspended, parkrun organisers are determined to relaunch by the end of the year, but they’ve still got some hurdles to clear.

Local parkrun founder Bruce Fordyce admitted at the weekend he was frustrated by the lengthy hiatus.

“It’s absolutely vital for parkrun to restart, so we’re pushing the ministers and other role players as much as we can,” said Fordyce, a record nine-time winner of the Comrades Marathon.

Fordyce was set to meet with decision makers this week, and they were eager to find a solution.

“We will of course follow government health and safety regulations, but we are determined to start before the end of the year, and we’re lobbying hard,” he said.

“I was at Eldorado Park on Saturday, where they really want a parkrun, and I would estimate that a couple of hundred people from the community arrived.”

Bruce Fordyce

Former elite athlete Bruce Fordyce, who started parkrun in South Africa nine years ago, hopes to get the green light soon for the weekly social running/walking events to resume. Picture: Gallo Images

To proceed, however, organisers needed to find a way to host events without exceeding government enforced limitations.

According to level one lockdown regulations, up to 500 people could attend an outdoor gathering, provided health and safety protocols were followed.

While similar myrun social events had resumed earlier this month, with rolling starts and a screening process being used, the more recently launched weekly Sunday runs hosted smaller fields than parkruns, which had attracted over 770 000 people to its 225 events around SA since the local franchise was started in November 2011.

If they opened only the smaller parkruns, which usually attracted fewer individuals, people from other areas might flock to them.

Fordyce was nonetheless confident they could find a way forward.

“Unfortunately parkrun is a victim of its own success because more than 50 of our events normally have more than 500 people,” he said.

“But there are ways of doing it and I think we’re nearly there.”

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