Parkrun Records Controversy Sparks Responding Letter From Parkrunners And Protests At Local Events

Parkrun petitions to reinstate records now have over 18,500 signatures


The recent decision by parkrun to remove certain performance statistics from its website has ignited a firestorm of debate within the running community, prompting widespread reactions and actions from parkrunners around the world.

In response to parkrun CEO Russ Jefferys’ open letter reaffirming the organization’s commitment to inclusivity and defending the decision not to reinstate record lists and stats, petitioners, including Will Hartley, Mary Taylor, Mark Purvis, and several other ordinary parkrunners, have penned a responding open letter expressing their concerns. 

Parkrun Records Controversy Sparks Responding Letter From Parkrunners And Protests At Local Events 1

The letter, dated Tuesday, February 20th, 2024, emphasizes the importance of these records as motivational and inspirational tools for parkrun participants and calls for their reinstatement. 

At the time of writing, the petitions have garnered over 18,500 signatures from parkrunners globally, demonstrating the widespread support for restoring the statistics.

In his statement, Jefferys highlighted parkrun’s core mission of promoting inclusivity and accessibility to physical activity for people of all backgrounds.

However, many within the parkrun community have questioned the rationale behind the removal of performance statistics, arguing that these records serve as important markers of personal achievement and progress. 

The controversy has highlighted differing perspectives on the role of competition within the parkrun ethos and the balance between inclusivity and preserving the elements that have made parkrun a beloved institution for millions.

The controversy surrounding parkrun’s decision has also sparked action at the local level.

Yeppoon parkrun, a small parkrun event in Queensland, Australia, announced its decision to cancel the upcoming event on Saturday, February 24th, as a one-off protest against the changes. 

The event directors cited concerns about the removal of performance statistics and its potential impact on participants’ enjoyment of parkrun. 

However, this decision was swiftly challenged when the managing director of parkrun Australia intervened, uncanceling the event and calling for new volunteers to ensure its continuation.

The handling of this situation has led to further discussion and debate on social media platforms.

Hartley, one of the petition organizers, expressed disappointment with the handling of the situation, particularly regarding the intervention in Yeppoon parkrun’s decision to cancel the event. 

Hartley emphasized the importance of respectful dialogue and expressed support for parkrunners to protest in ways they see fit while advocating for a resolution that addresses the concerns raised by the community.

While both sides of the debate continue to present their arguments, the core issue remains unresolved. 

Parkrunners worldwide are passionate about their community and are calling for a resolution that balances inclusivity while still preserving the elements that have made parkrun a beloved institution for millions. 

As the discussions evolve, the future of parkrun records and its view within its global community remains uncertain.

You can read the full open letter from parkrun petitioners below:

Parkrun Records Controversy Sparks Responding Letter From Parkrunners And Protests At Local Events 2

An open letter from petitioners to parkrun global, Tuesday 20th February 2024

Dear parkrun central team, Russ Jefferys and board of trustees,

Thank you for your letter on Wednesday last week where you explained your reasons for removing the record stats and leaderboard lists such as the first male and female finishers, the fastest 500, and all the age graded records for each local parkrun and junior parkrun event.

We appreciate the goal of making parkrun inclusive for everyone and that you believe these records have the potential to put off new participants.

However, we have continued to promote the petitions to bring back the stats, because we firmly believe the majority of parkrunners want the stats back, and we do not believe these records are stopping people from wanting to join.

  • We believe these records and lists are motivational, inspirational and show personal achievement. Many loved the stats.
  • Many runners around the world found these lists fun and interesting.
  • People of all ages viewed these records. Kids were really proud of both junior and 5k parkrun age records. Older runners loved seeing where they fared in age-graded tables and worked to improve in their local parkrun’s standings, or take on other records as a tourist elsewhere.
  • We do not believe removing these tables makes parkrun more inclusive. parkrun had been wonderfully inclusive for twenty years, both welcoming and friendly with these records in place. Although we can empathise that beginners or slower runners may find parkrun a challenge, it is not the stats that make it so. We do not believe removing records, lists and age-grading tables will impact their likelihood to participate in any meaningful way and they are not a barrier.
  • Having a competitive element of parkrun for those who want it has always been part of parkrun since its first four years as Bushy Park Time Trial, as you said in your letter. parkrun can be different things for different people, whether you are slow or fast. Allowing people to engage with it in a way that suits them made it inclusive. In reality, removing the stats leaves the runners that valued and used the records feeling excluded. These changes were done without consultation or warning without offering any alternative incentives for parkrun participants and go against the spirit of the global community event that parkrun is. We would be happy to work with parkrun to find a mutually acceptable solution, such as enabling runners to continue to access course statistics but in a less prominent way.

Our two petitions now have over 18,500 signatures of ordinary parkrunners and volunteers around the world who would like the stats back. Slow, fast, in between, old, young, middle aged. We all want them back. Please listen to what we are calling for and bring back the stats!

Respectfully submitted,

  • Will Hartley, Woking parkrun, England
  • Mary Taylor, Author of the Bring Back the Stats petition
  • Mark Purvis, Author of the Bring Back Access to Australian parkrun performance data petition
  • Jérôme Benhadj, East Coast parkrun, Singapore
  • Claire Stevens, Druridge Bay parkrun, England
  • Kamil Wolosewicz, Warszawa-Ursynow parkrun, Poland
  • Janice Whittle, North Lakes parkrun, Australia
  • Alexander Smotrov, Wormwood Scrubs parkrun, England
  • Celèste Booysen, Durbanville parkrun, South Africa

And 18,691 more parkrunners and volunteers from around the world.

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Jessy has been active her whole life, competing in cross-country, track running, and soccer throughout her undergrad. She pivoted to road cycling after completing her Bachelor of Kinesiology with Nutrition from Acadia University. Jessy is currently a professional road cyclist living and training in Spain.

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