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The current position regarding COVID-19(Coronavirus) and implications for parkrun events are available on each Country's blog.

COVID-19 Framework

We have identified three clear states of operation going forward:
  • Events open and operating as per pre-COVID-19
  • Events closed due to the risk of COVID-19 infection being considered too high
  • Events open and operating under this COVID-19 Framework

The guidelines set out below represent our COVID-19 Framework, and apply to all parkrun events operating in communities where there is an underlying level of COVID-19 infection and/or social distancing requirements are in place as set by public health bodies.

COVID-19 Framework for parkrun events (provisional)

Please note that whilst we consider this COVID-19 Framework complete, it is not yet finalised and changes may occur.

Currently, there are no parkrun events open and operating under this Framework.

  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 2,000 weekly locations across 22 countries, with 7 million registered members. Prior to closing all events due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, a typical week would see 350,000 people walk, jog or run, and another 30,000 people volunteer.
    2. All events follow a single delivery plan and safeguarding protocol. All events possess their own specific risk assessment but when operating under this framework will additionally follow a single COVID-19 risk assessment submitted alongside this document. See below.
    3. It is widely accepted that parkrun is an incredibly effective public health intervention, able to engage people from a wide range of backgrounds and communities. 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. 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.
    4. Across all participation metrics, prior to lockdown, parkrun was growing at around 25% per year, with that growth rate forecast to increase over the following years.
    5. It is clear therefore that the reopening of parkrun events would significantly improve the health and wellbeing of many people, and keeping them closed represents a significant loss of opportunity regarding access to physical activity. Further, with COVID-19 and the associated lockdowns shown to disproportionately impact those from more disadvantaged communities, and as parkrun events are shown to have the greatest impact on those communities, it is important from a public health perspective to reopen parkrun events as soon as is safe and practical.
    6. In order to understand the risks associated with reopening parkrun events within communities where there remains an underlying level of COVID-19 infection, it is critical to understand three key issues:
      1. Droplet transmission: Respiratory droplets carrying infectious pathogens can transmit infection when they travel directly from the respiratory tract of an infectious individual to susceptible mucosal surfaces of a recipient, generally over short distances. This can be in the form of expiration, sneezing, coughing or speaking.
      2. Fomite transmission: A fomite is defined as an object that becomes contaminated with infected organisms and which subsequently transmits those organisms to another person. Examples of potential fomites in a parkrun context are stopwatches, scanners, laptops, finish tokens.
      3. Participant characteristics: COVID-19 has been shown to impact different groups of people in differing ways and as such it’s vital to understand the type of people likely to be in attendance at parkrun events.
  2. 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. All parkrun events take place entirely within areas of open space and do not require any closed environments.
    2. Walking and running are non-contact activities that do not require any prolonged face-to-face contact.
    3. parkrun events require very little in the way of equipment and have always followed a simple operating model requiring minimal event infrastructure.
    4. All 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.
    5. 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 contacting tracing such as the UK's NHS Test and Trace programme if needed. parkrun Global will manage this process (if required), not individual event teams.
  3. Event Delivery During COVID-19
    1. As the COVID-19 Pandemic developed during the early part of 2020, we closed all parkrun events across the 22 countries in which we operate.
    2. As we look toward reopening, and with the aim of keeping things as simple as possible, we have defined three clear states of operation going forward:
      1. Events open and operating as per pre-COVID-19
      2. Events closed due to risk of COVID-19 infection being considered too high
      3. Events open and operating under our COVID-19 Framework
    3. The guidelines set out below represent our COVID-19 Framework, and apply to all parkrun events operating in communities where there is an underlying level of COVID-19 infection and/or where social distancing requirements are in place as set by public health bodies.
    4. At parkrun events operating under the COVID-19 Framework, the Event Director(s) of each event will act as the COVID-19 Officer(s), which means that:
      1. Prior to reopening, they will be required to familiarise themselves with this document and confirm they have done so.
      2. Ensure that all Run Directors are also familiar with this document and will follow these guidelines on event day.
    5. All participants and volunteers must undergo a self-assessment for any Covid-19- symptoms. No-one should attend a parkrun event if they, or someone they live with, has any of the following: A high temperature (above 37.8°C), a new, continuous cough, a loss of, or change to, their sense of smell or taste. This check should be done prior to each parkrun event. Should an individual have demonstrated any such symptoms, they must not participate or volunteer, and should follow relevant guidance in their country of residence.
    6. Anyone who has already been instructed to self-isolate by a health care practitioner should continue to follow this advice and may not participate or volunteer.
    7. Everyone should comply with public health restrictions and avoid high-risk behaviour outside the parkrun setting to reduce the risk to fellow participants and other attendees.
    8. In the event of the local lockdown of a particular area, relevant parkrun events will be closed with immediate effect and registered parkrunners from that area will be advised appropriately.
  4. Arriving at events
    1. Participants should be encouraged, where possible, to travel to their events by foot, bicycle, or private transport, without breaking social distancing guidelines specific to their region.
    2. Participants should be encouraged, where possible, to attend their local events and avoid unnecessary travel to non-local parkrun events.
    3. Whilst parkrun events do not themselves formally provide parking facilities, participants should be encouraged to park considerately.
  5. Gathering before and setting up events
    1. The Run Directors on the day must be familiar with these operating guidelines.
    2. When volunteers arrive on the morning of the event they should follow social distancing guidelines, and all unnecessary contact should be avoided.
    3. All volunteers must at all times be symptom-free and sanitise hands on arrival at the event. All parkrun events to provide hand sanitiser for use by volunteers.
    4. A single volunteer should assign roles to other volunteers one at a time as they arrive, and hand out volunteer bibs and lanyards, whilst following social distancing guidelines at all times.
    5. Due to parkrun’s lean operating model, event equipment (for example, arrows, start/finish signs, finish funnels) is considered essential for the safe operation of the event. However, it should be set out (and collected at the end of the event) with as little human contact as possible.
    6. Participants, volunteers, and spectators are required to socially distance prior to the event.
    7. Any areas used for pre-event gathering should maximise the available space for each participant and minimise the amount of time participants spend in proximity to each other.
    8. First-timers briefings are critical to participant welfare and creating a welcoming atmosphere for people who may feel anxious. These should take place ten minutes prior to the start of the event, last no longer than two minutes, and be socially distanced at all times.
    9. 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 create as much space as practical and to minimise contact between participants.
    10. parkrun events do not provide qualified first aiders. However, all events are provided with a first aid kit, which, if required, should be used respecting social distancing if possible. Critical incidents should be dealt with in accordance with our critical incident policy.
  6. The start
    1. Start lines should be considered to maximise the available space for each participant and minimise the amount of time participants spend in proximity to each other. Adaptations which each event should therefore consider are:
      1. (Required) Pre-event briefings must only contain information critical to the safety of participants and the smooth running of the event
      2. (Required)- Pre-event briefings must be kept to a maximum time of two minutes (example script below) and ideally, should be scripted in advance in order to keep to time.
      3. (Required) – Participants must be moved to the start line as close to the start time as possible to minimise the amount of time spent in close proximity to each other.
      4. (Required) – All events must start promptly in order to minimise the amount of time participants spend in close proximity to each other.
      5. (Required) – Participants must be asked to seed themselves appropriately, with faster runners towards the front, and slower runners/walkers towards the back.
      6. (Considered) – Depending on the course design, start areas can be moved from the usual place if more space is available and risk assessed appropriately. Note: wider start lines do not always support social distancing as they can lead to congestion if the course narrows shortly after. This should be considered by event teams.
    2. Where a start area is moved due to COVID-19 adaptations, total course distance can be increased by up to 500m if needed. Importantly, courses must not be shorter than 5km.
    3. Use of event stopwatches and barcode scanners is not permitted, instead, all event timing and scanning is to be carried out using the parkrun Virtual Volunteer mobile application.
    4. We will encourage all participants to socially distance at the start of each event, and ask that where possible all participants should remain at least 1m apart from each other at the start of the event, and avoid face to face contact.
  7. During the event
    1. Participants are permitted to walk or run at their own pace.
    2. During the event, participants should walk, jog or run with an aim of making use of all available space and minimising the amount of time in close proximity to each other.
    3. Participants should not spit anywhere on the course, high-five anyone else, or engage in any other non-essential contact.
    4. Other users of the park or area of open space should be given way to at all times.
  8. The finish
    1. Finish lines should be in as open an area as possible and can be moved if required and risk assessed appropriately.
    2. Where a finish area is moved due to COVID-19 adaptations total course distance can be increased by up to 500m if needed. Importantly, courses must not be shorter than 5km.
    3. Finish lines should be widened where possible and enough space should be given such that finish tokens can be handed out without causing crowding and to respect social distancing requirements where possible.
    4. The number of finish token volunteers should be increased in order to keep people in the finish funnel moving and for it to be exited as soon as possible.
    5. The finish funnel should be lengthened if helpful to increase flow and avoid crowding.
    6. Finish tokens should be given out at the end of the funnel, not the beginning.
    7. Scanners should not be placed directly at the end of the finish funnel, rather they should be spaced-out and sufficiently far away from the finish funnel such that queues do not build up and social distancing can be maintained.
    8. Event barcode scanners must not be used, instead, barcode scanning must be carried out using the parkrun Virtual Volunteer application on the volunteer’s own mobile device.
    9. The number of volunteers scanning should be significantly increased such that the finish area can be cleared as soon as possible.
      1. The parkrun Virtual Volunteer application is being developed to accommodate increasing numbers of users and the requirement for 100% use.
      2. We recommend that events aim for around one volunteer scanner per 50 finishers.
    10. Scanning of finish tokens and personal barcodes must be entirely contactless and at a distance, with participants holding their own position and personal barcodes, then depositing their position token in a receptacle after they have been scanned.
  9. After the event
    1. Finish tokens must be washed prior to the next event.
    2. Volunteer bibs and lanyards should be returned after the event with minimal human contact.
    3. Bibs and lanyards must be washed after each event.
    4. The sharing of equipment must be avoided where possible.
    5. Results must be processed at home in order to avoid gathering around devices used to process results.
    6. After the event, there should be no non-essential presentations, gatherings or celebrations.
    7. All participants, volunteers and spectators are required to maintain social distancing after the event.
  10. Children
    1. Children have been shown to be at lower risk from COVID-19, however, they are also less likely to socially distance or observe hand hygiene.
    2. At 5k events the under 11s rule should be highlighted particularly clearly.
    3. At all events, participants should be reminded that before, during and after the event social distancing guidelines are in place and that children should be supported by their parents where appropriate.
    4. At junior events, children may be presented with milestone wristbands however the volunteer doing this must sanitise their hands immediately prior.
  11. Supporting communications from parkrun HQ
    1. All parkrunners will be emailed directly with pre-reopening guidelines once a reopening date is confirmed for their event, including a code of conduct (text and graphic) that highlights key aspects such as not attending if symptomatic, social distancing requirements, sanitising hands on arrival and departure (non-volunteer participants to provide their own hand sanitiser) and respecting other people’s personal space. All new registrants will receive the same guidelines.
    2. All national communications channels to include regular updates on parkrun’s COVID-19 Framework.
    3. Communication should also include an explanation that some events will be busy and, whilst we have minimised the risk, participants should make their own decision as to whether they are comfortable returning.
  12. Ongoing reviews and reflection
    1. A formal steering group for COVID-19 with medical/public health representation will carry out weekly reviews of appropriateness of our COVID-19 Framework.
  13. Track and trace
    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 contacting tracing such as by the UK's NHS Test and Trace programme if needed. parkrun Global will manage this process (if required), not individual event teams.
    2. We can rapidly communicate (via email) post-event with specific groups of parkrunners and where asked to do so by public health bodies can do so effectively and professionally.
  14. Enhanced Volunteer support
    1. Insight tells us that the majority of parkrunners are comfortable returning as walkers, joggers, runners, or volunteers. However, returning in locations where there is an underlying level of infection will no doubt raise a number of questions from within and outside of the parkrun community. We will therefore provide additional support to volunteers such that they are able to carry out their roles without undue pressure and anxiety.
    2. COVID-19 queries through parkrunner or event support will be fast-tracked.
    3. Results processing support will be enhanced through increased availability of the chat support system and increased numbers of central volunteers supporting that service.
    4. Event teams and Ambassadors will receive regular communications around the practicality of these guidelines and application of them at the event level.
    5. Where we have volunteer adjudicators, they will familiarise themselves with these guidelines and adjudicate events accordingly.
    6. All parkrun volunteers are covered under our public liability insurance policy as long as they follow these guidelines to the best of their ability.
  15. Example pre-run brief
    1. junior event
      1. Welcome to Harrogate junior parkrun.
      2. The course is two laps of the park.
      3. At the end of the first lap please turn left to start lap two.
      4. At the end of the second lap please turn right to the finish.
      5. Please give way to other park users at all times.
      6. Parents, please don’t cross the finish line.
      7. There are no hazards on the course today but please watch out for uneven surfaces and fallen branches.
      8. In the event of any incidents please speak to your nearest volunteer, who will contact me and provide support.
      9. We have access to two Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDs) at the top and bottom of the course.
      10. During the event, you should try to walk, or run with the aim of making use of all available space and minimising the amount of time in close proximity to each other.
      11. No spitting or high-fiving.
      12. After the finish line please continue to respect social distancing guidelines.
      13. Kids (and parents) it’s a run not a race, smile on your face.
      14. Is everyone ready?
      15. Go!
    2. 5km event
      1. Welcome to Westerfolds parkrun.
      2. The course is out and back.
      3. Please give way to other park users at all times.
      4. The course is muddy today after the rain so please watch out for slippery or uneven surfaces.
      5. In the event of any incidents please speak to your nearest volunteer, who will contact me and provide support.
      6. We have an automatic external defibrillators (AED) located at the start line.
      7. During the event, you should try to walk, jog or run with an aim of making use of all available space and minimising the amount of time in close proximity to each other.
      8. No spitting or high-fiving.
      9. After the finish line please continue to respect social distancing guidelines and support your children to do so also.
      10. Children under the age of 11 must be within arm’s reach of a parent, guardian or designated adult of the parents’ choice at all times.
      11. One dog is permitted per participant and must be on a short lead.
      12. Is everyone ready?
      13. Go!
  16. Updates to Virtual Volunteer / WebFMS (in development, will be released prior to reopening)
    1. When finished scanning or timing, Virtual Volunteer will allow for simple identification of the volunteer (they will scan their own barcode or type their own name) and event location (will scan event-specific QR code).
    2. Scanning and timing data will automatically transfer directly to that event’s WebFMS ready for processing.
    3. Scanning and timing volunteers (who scan their barcode or type their name during the upload) will be automatically credited for volunteering at that event.
    4. Continued iOS and Android parity.
    5. Use of Virtual Volunteer can be an entirely contactless process with volunteers not handling any tokens or barcodes.

COVID-19 risk assessment for the return of parkrun events.

RiskTypeCommentMitigation

General transmission between participants and/or volunteers.

Fomite and droplet.

All parkrun events are local community gatherings of people from different households.

People must not attend if they show any symptoms of COVID-19, have recently tested positive, are living with someone who has recently tested positive, or are required to quarantine for any other reason.

Participants come into contact with other people whilst travelling to a parkrun event.

Fomite and droplet.

Typically with parkrun events we do not see large groups of people travelling long distances together (such as with football fans in coaches), and many people already walk, run, or cycle to their events.

Encourage participants to observe public health guidance whilst travelling to the event. Also encourage people to walk, run, or cycle to events.

Participants travelling to an event move disease from one area to another.

Fomite and droplet.

Three-quarters of parkrunners live within 10km of the event they attend.

Encourage people to attend their local events where possible.

Volunteers spread the virus through touching course-specific hardware.

Fomite.

Whilst parkrun events do not require much in the way of course hardware, standard items are essential (e.g. flags, arrows, stakes, tape)

All volunteers to sanitise hands on arrival (provided by event), and to be reminded of good hygiene practice. Minimal people to touch each item.

Volunteer bibs and lanyards spread the virus through the volunteer group.

Fomite.

parkrun events average around 20 volunteers per event instance.

Volunteer bibs and lanyards to be washed between events and handed out by a single dedicated volunteer with as little contact as possible. All items to be handed back in also with as little contact as possible and not touched until the following week.

Use of timing and scanning hardware transmits virus.

Fomite and droplet.

parkrun events utilise timing and scanning hardware to carry out these functions. This provides a fomite risk as devices are handed out, used, collected, and then connected to laptops. Each contact also presents a risk of droplet transmission.

All timing and scanning to be carried out on volunteers’ own mobile devices using the dedicated mobile application. This entirely removes fomite and droplet transmission risk via this activity.

parkrunners in close proximity before and after events.

Droplet.

Volunteers typically arrive 30-45 minutes prior to the start, and walkers/runners typically arrive 10-30 minutes prior to the start.

All parkrunners to be reminded of the need to socially distance before and after the event.

parkrunners in close proximity at startline.

Droplet.

It is not possible to accommodate wave starts, or to limit participant numbers, therefore all participants need to be at the startline at the same time.

Minimise time at startline by bringing people there at the last minute, and keeping pre-event briefings under two minutes. Move startlines to areas of more open space if possible.

parkrunners in close proximity on the course

Droplet.

Non-contact and not face-to-face, also typically not for extended periods of time.

No requirement for social distancing on the course, however, participants are to be reminded to respect each other’s space.

parkrunners in close proximity at finish line and in finish funnel

Fomite and droplet.

parkrunners enter the finish funnel and are handed a token. For a short period of time they are in non-face-to-face contact within 1m.

Finish funnels to be extended where possible, finish tokens to be given out at the end of funnel rather than beginning. Scanners to be moved away from the end of the funnel to allow faster dispersal. Number of volunteer scanners to be significantly increased to remove queues. Scanners to be spaced out sufficiently to allow themselves and participants to socially distance.

Finish tokens spreading the virus.

Fomite.

Each finisher must be provided with a finish token to record their position.

Finish tokens to be sanitised between events and handled by minimal people, all of whom have sanitised their hands. Recipient to keep hold of their position token whilst they are scanned, and then drop directly into a receptacle.

Individuals at high risk from COVID-19 infection in attendance.

Fomite and droplet.

parkrun participants are typically not high-risk individuals. However, due to large overall numbers there will be high-risk individuals in attendance at many events.

Whilst we have mitigated as many risks as possible, there is no such thing as a 100% safe environment. From the time we publicly announce events reopening onwards our communications channels will regularly provide information regarding minimising risk and taking necessary precautions.

See below for the COVID-19 specific codes available for download:

  • COVID-19 walker and runner code
  • COVID-19 Volunteer code