Parkrun participants have spoken of their delight and excitement at the return of the weekly free running club.
As part of lockdown loosening in England on Monday July 19, outdoor running events such as the London Marathon, the Great North Run and the Brighton Marathon are allowed to return.
Parkrun, the weekly community event which takes place each Saturday morning in parks across Britain, starts again on Saturday in England.
Stuart Wright, 43, an HR consultant who lives in Lancashire, will be taking part in the Pendle Parkrun.
He told the PA news agency: “I’m excited – the weather over the last couple of weeks has made me think it is going to be a bit warm. It’s great to have something to look forward to again on Saturday morning and to see some familiar faces.”
Mr Wright said he spent the past months running on his own while Parkrun was suspended.
“For me, it’s the inclusion aspect of it that I love,” he said. “At some organised 5ks or 10ks you have to be a certain time or be part of a club but Parkrun is open to everyone.
“I go with my son, who’s 10, and my mother in law, who’s in her 60s. At Pendle we’ve got a bit of a steep course that we have to go up twice, so that’s always a challenge.
“So I can run with her, I can run with my son and we have friends that we regularly see there.”
Wes Ball, 42, a public affairs director from Buckinghamshire, echoed Mr Wright’s sentiments.
“Parkrun is one of the best things of my life really,” he told PA. “When you get there it is one of the most uplifting things you can do. It’s never a race, it’s always a chance to go running with friends.”
Mr Ball will be running in the Wendover Woods Parkrun on Saturday.
During lockdown, he and other fellow runners held virtual Parkruns on Facebook where people undertook challenges or posted selfies to keep the community spirit alive during lockdown.
“Parkrun really isn’t about running, it’s about communities,” he said. “It doesn’t matter whether you’re four or 90, people will welcome you.”
The chairman of the Local Government Association’s Culture Tourism and Sport Board, Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, said: “The LGA is delighted to see the return of Parkrun today.
“These popular events are incredibly valuable for many people in supporting both their physical and mental health and wellbeing. We’re thankful to both Parkrun and councils for their patience and hard work in supporting the safe return of these events.”