Skip to content

COVID-19 Guidance for all parkrun events

  1. Background
    1. parkrun is a UK-based charity with a global remit to promote community participation in healthy recreation. Since launching in 2004, it has grown to over 2,100 weekly locations across 22 countries, with more than 7 million registered members.
    2. All events follow a single delivery plan and safeguarding protocol.
    3. All events possess their own specific risk assessment.
    4. As of April 2022, a typical weekend sees over a quarter-of-a-million people walking, running, and volunteering at parkrun events across the world.
    5. Globally, parkrun events directly enable over ten million hours of socially-focused outdoor activity per year, which itself has a significant positive impact on health and wellbeing.
    6. It is also widely accepted that parkrun is an incredibly effective public health intervention, able to engage people from a range of backgrounds and communities. And it has also been shown that, following participation in parkrun events, participants are likely to significantly increase activity levels in other areas of their lives.
  2. Understanding risk associated with COVID-19
    1. In order to understand the risks associated with delivering parkrun events within communities where there remains an underlying level of COVID-19 infection, it is critical to understand transmission routes:
      1. Droplet and aerosol transmission: It is now recognised that airborne transmission is the major route by which the SARS-CoV-2 virus passes between people. The virus can be spread either by large respiratory droplets (>100 μm in diameter) that behave ballistically and fall to the ground within 2m, or by exhaled aerosol droplets (<100 μm in diameter), which potentially pose a greater risk because they can travel further and remain suspended in the air for longer (see here).
      2. Fomite (via surfaces) transmission: In April 2021 the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention published a briefing paper on indoor surface (fomite) transmission, stating that; Contact with a contaminated surface has less than a 1 in 10,000 chance of causing an infection, Outdoor surfaces present a lower risk than indoor surfaces, Infection risk further reduces by 99% within 72 hours.
  3. Strengths of parkrun’s operating model
    1. Evidence suggests that outdoor environments are significantly less likely to contribute to the transmission of COVID-19 than indoor environments.
    2. All parkrun events take place entirely within areas of open space and do not require any closed environments.
    3. Walking, running and volunteering are non-contact activities that do not require any prolonged face-to-face contact.
    4. parkrun events require very little in the way of equipment and have always followed a simple operating model requiring minimal event infrastructure.
    5. Participants are required to register online and in advance of their attendance, and also do not need to collect any items (such as race numbers) in order to participate.
    6. In order to develop our own understanding around the COVID-19 risks related to parkrun events, we commissioned two pieces of independent academic work.
      1. Firstly, Professor Mike Weed and Dr Abby Foad carried out a rapid review of evidence for outdoor transmission of COVID-19. Concluding that, amongst other things, ”it is possible to deliver outdoor events and activities across a range of sectors, and of varying sizes and formats, in a way that does not significantly increase risk of COVID-19 transmission”. For the full report see here.
      2. Secondly, Professor Clive Beggs developed and ran a computer model through 10,000 simulations of an average 263-person parkrun event, using worst-reasonable-case estimates for number and duration of human contacts, concluding that “that parkrun events are likely to be very safe”. For the full report see here.
  4. Event-day Operations
    1. No one should attend a parkrun event if they believe themselves to be infectious for COVID-19.
    2. Anyone who has been instructed to self-isolate by a health care practitioner should continue to follow this advice and not attend.
    3. All walkers, runners, and volunteers should comply with public health restrictions relevant to their location.
    4. In the event of legal restrictions in a particular location that mandate the closure of parkrun events, associated events will be closed with immediate effect and registered parkrunners from that area will be advised appropriately.
    5. Gathering before and setting up events
      1. Walkers, runners, volunteers, and spectators should follow all local social distancing and general COVID-related requirements at all times.
      2. In some geographic regions, events may be required to display and promote official contact tracing QR codes and applications and/or comply with additional requirements for participants. Where this is the case, event teams and parkrun communities will be notified directly by parkrun HQ.
    6. junior parkrun events are required to hold warm-ups prior to the start. These are considered part of the event itself and care should be taken to follow any local social distancing requirements.
    7. parkrun events do not provide qualified first aiders. However, all events are provided with a first aid kit, which, if needed, should be used respecting local social distancing requirements where possible.
    8. Critical incidents should be dealt with in accordance with our critical incident policy.
    9. In some critical incidents, CPR is required to save an individual's life. According to the Resuscitation Council UK, “When someone has a cardiac arrest, they are not breathing normally and their heart has stopped. With no treatment, this person will die, usually within a few minutes. Early CPR and defibrillation give them their best chance of survival.”
    10. Note: Please see https://www.resus.org.uk/covid-19-resources for further guidance on the delivery of CPR during the COVID-19 pandemic.
    11. During the event pacers are permitted where doing so does not conflict with local social distancing requirements.
    12. Walkers, runners, and volunteers should observe local social distancing requirements.
    13. At the finish area we recommend that 5k events aim for around one volunteer scanner per 50 finishers and junior events aim for one volunteer scanner per 25 finishers.
    14. Any gatherings following parkrun events should adhere to local social distancing requirements and remain sensitive to the feelings of local communities
  5. Contact Tracing
    1. Walkers, runners, and volunteers are asked to provide email addresses as part of their online registration process, and as a result in accordance with our privacy policy, we are able to accurately and quickly contact people in attendance on any given day in order to facilitate contact tracing where required by local authorities. Note: parkrun Global will manage this process (if required), not individual event teams.
    2. Where a walker, runner, or volunteer attends a parkrun event and subsequently tests positive, no action should be taken unless requested by official contact tracing authorities via parkrun HQ.