A THURROCK health campaigner has spoken up for the benefits of local parkruns after a local authority in Gloucestershire levied a charge on the event run by its community.
On Tuesday, last week, Stoke Gifford Parish Council voted that its volunteer-ran, timed 5K race would have to reimburse them for their use of Little Stoke Park.
Their decision has largely been met with public outcry, with many people from Olympic athletes to amateur joggers slamming the outcome.
In Thurrock fitness campainger Trevor Rawson, who is event director of Thurrock parkrun on Orsett Heath, said it was a bad decision but called on local people to join in the Borough event – which remains free!
He said: “Thurrock parkrun, Orsett Heath is now six months old and attracts new parkrunners and tourists every week.
“It was set up for the community by a core team of volunteers who give their time for free.
“Thurrock Public Health funded the cost of the equipment because they can see the obvious benefits of parkrun to health and community.
“With the valued support of Thurrock Council your local parkrun is free to register, volunteer or run. No matter if you are fast or slow you are welcome.”
Tom Williams, Chief Operating Officer for parkrun, said: “As we look towards opening our 1,000th location later this year it is clear that a per-event or per-runner charge simply would not be sustainable and would threaten parkrun’s free-to-participate ethos.
“Parkrun has a significant role to play in promoting physical activity among people from all sections of society, has achieved unprecedented success in this field, and was recently described as ‘a new model for community sport volunteering’ in the Department of Culture, Media and Sport’s Sporting Future paper.
“Furthermore, any fee passed on to participants has been demonstrated beyond question to create a significant barrier to entry, particularly amongst those who are currently inactive.”
Thurrock parkrun is at Orsett Heath RM16 4XH every Saturday with a 9am start. To date 511 parkrunners have run 7,030km.
You can find out more at website www.parkrun.org.uk/thurrock.