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British runners create petition to bring back parkrun statistics

In five days, the petition already has 15,000 signatures

parkrun petition

It has been a week since parkrun publicly announced its decision to remove all course records and statistics from its database, in an effort to foster inclusivity and eliminate potential barriers to participation that many in the parkrun community view as misguided. Runners from Woking Parkrun in Surrey, U.K., have created a petition titled “Bring Back the Stats,” which has received more than 15,000 signatures.

Parkrun, the world’s largest free weekly 5K event, originating in the U.K., attracts participants of all abilities to parks, trails, and open spaces every Saturday morning. Last week, the organization decided to take down all statistics and course records after complaints regarding non-binary runners taking women’s course records at several parkrun locations. Rather than creating a non-binary category, parkrun removed all statistics, in the hope of increasing registration, inclusivity and participation.

A local parkrun event. Photo: W/C

According to a spokesperson for parkrun, some participants felt a disconnect between the displayed statistics and the organization’s mission to create opportunities for as many people as possible to participate in parkrun events. But despite public criticism, parkrun has stood firm on its decision to leave the records out.

Many runners have voiced their frustration, and now an online petition has gathered more than 15,000 signatures, urging Parkrun to reinstate the statistics. “Parkrun is for a community, and we believe the majority of your community of runners and volunteers want the lists reinstated,” the petition reads. “The lists reflect people’s achievements and each list is part of the history of each local parkrun. As you know, many of your users find statistics and lists interesting to look at and compare. It can be fun. We think it does not take away from parkrun being inclusive in any way. We know there were some good intentions to your decision, but we need to recognize and correct when we make mistakes.”

Runners at the start line of a local parkrun. Photo: W/C

The petition is asking parkrun CEO Russ Davies to reverse the decision and bring back statistics, records and top lists, and for them to be reinstated along with parkrun’s new inclusive measures.

Parkrun’s decision comes amid broader discussions within athletics about the inclusion of transgender athletes. While World Athletics and elite label road races have created rules around competition, parkrun’s community-driven, volunteer-led, non-competitive nature presents challenges around fairness. 

You can view the full parkrun petition or sign the petition here.

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