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Parkrun boss begs Welsh leaders to reopen event on Saturday

One of Parkrun’s top bosses has called on the Welsh government to let the group’s New Year’s Day event take place – insisting there have been no reported cases of virus transmission at any of their 50,000 events.

Parkrun, an international weekly community running club, announced on its website that it had to cancel events in Wales because of strict new guidance – which bans more than 50 people gathering for outdoor activities. 

Tom Williams, chief operating officer for Parkrun Global, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning his organisation had written a joint letter to the Welsh Government, with Welsh Athletics, asking for the rules to be reviewed. 

He insisted that there has never been a single reported case of virus transmission at any of Parkrun’s 50,000 events, involving one million people, adding: ‘Where physical activity is restricted without evidence, we ask for that evidence to be presented, and hopefully the decision can be changed.’

Mr Williams said: ‘For a lot of people, particularly those most in need of physical activity, if they don’t pick up a good positive activity habit in January then they’re probably going to be impacted for the whole year. 

‘The longer that we have to keep Parkrun closed in Wales, the more impact there’s going to be not just in the short term but in the long term.’   

Parkrun, an international weekly community running club, announced on its website that it had to cancel events in Wales because of strict new guidance – which bans more than 50 people gathering for outdoor activities. Pictured: Parkrun in Cardiff, Christmas Day

Tom Williams, chief operating officer for Parkrun Global, said that on Christmas Day this year Parkrun had 125,000 people attending events across roughly 15 countries, and the organisation works with Track and Trace authorities wherever they operate

Tom Williams, chief operating officer for Parkrun Global, said that on Christmas Day this year Parkrun had 125,000 people attending events across roughly 15 countries, and the organisation works with Track and Trace authorities wherever they operate

Mr Williams added: ‘Since Parkrun events have come back around the world under our framework, we’ve delivered over 50,000 different events where one million people have taken part over five million times. 

‘There’s not been a single reported case of virus transmission at a Parkrun event.

‘So they are really, really safe, there’s lots of mitigations in place, and as a charity with a responsibility for public health, health and wellbeing, increasing activity, it’s important that we champion that.’ 

His comments come after the Health Secretary blasted Welsh leaders for banning the outdoor exercise events which ‘helped so many’ amid some Covid restrictions returning. 

Sajid Javid responded to the announcement with a tweet saying: ‘Parkrun has helped so many people improve their health across the UK. I can’t see how restricting outdoor exercise in this way is justified or proportionate.’

Parkrun’s statement said: ‘Unfortunately, the Welsh Government has announced a gathering limit of 50 people, from 26 December onwards.

Sajid Javid criticised Welsh leaders for banning Parkrun outdoor exercise events which 'helped so many' amidst some Covid restrictions returning

Sajid Javid criticised Welsh leaders for banning Parkrun outdoor exercise events which ‘helped so many’ amidst some Covid restrictions returning

Sajid Javid jogging near Downing Street in October. He earlier tweeted: 'Parkrun has helped so many people improve their health across the UK. I can’t see how restricting outdoor exercise in this way is justified or proportionate'

Sajid Javid jogging near Downing Street in October. He earlier tweeted: ‘Parkrun has helped so many people improve their health across the UK. I can’t see how restricting outdoor exercise in this way is justified or proportionate’

‘Whilst this does not include children, and therefore does not impact junior parkrun, it does mean that we have no choice but to suspend all our 5k events from 1 January onwards.

‘We know that some Welsh parkrun events regularly have fewer than 50 people attending, however it would take a very small influx (at what is typically a very busy time of year) for them to exceed the limit.’

Furious Tory MPs and hospitality bosses in Scotland and Wales had also demanded Nicola Sturgeon and Mark Drakeford publish figures justifying their Covid crackdowns. 

Mr Williams said Parkrun had not heard back directly, but he believed Welsh Athletics were in talks with the Welsh government to find a resolution. 

He said that on Christmas Day this year Parkrun had 125,000 people attending events across roughly 15 countries, and the organisation works with Track and Trace authorities wherever they operate.   

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