Parkrun Records Are Gone To “Promote Inclusivity” And Runners Aren’t Happy About It

Our best advice: don't forget to charge your watch

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Try not to forget your watch the next time you go to Parkrun because if you end up running a personal best, course record, or otherwise, you won’t find it on the event website afterward.

Parkrun, known for its free 5K community events across numerous locations across the UK and worldwide, recently announced changes to its data presentation strategy in that there is no more data presentation. 

The higher-ups at Parkrun recently sent an email to Parkrun organizers, sharing that they will no longer publish certain data on its website, including course records, first finishes, and age-grade or category records.

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Parkrun CEO Russ Jefferys says the adjustments aim to create a more inclusive environment by reducing the emphasis on competitive performance metrics. Jefferys says the decision comes amidst efforts to eliminate potential barriers to participation and registration.

While some within the Parkrun community have voiced support for these changes, others, including former Parkrun event directors, have expressed concerns about potential impacts on participant motivation and challenge levels.

Mick Anglim, the former event director for Brokenhurst’s Parkrun, announced via Facebook post his resignation following the decision to remove Parkrun records and the organization’s new “inclusive policy.

“Everyone that I’ve spoken to agrees that the removal of age category and age grade records is a mistake,” Anglim said while speaking to The Telegraph.

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The decision to eliminate record and data presentation has been connected to broader discussions around inclusivity, particularly regarding transgender participation in sports.

Former Olympic swimmer Sharron Davies is among those not in favor of the change, describing it as “cowardly.”

Davies suggests that rather than hiding all records from the public eye, Parkrun would benefit more from adding course records for trans athletes alongside the existing male and female course records.

“Rather than give females their fair sports results from Parkrun … they have removed from public view all records,” Davies said to The Telegraph.

“The vast majority want simple, fair sport for all based on the biological reality of the bodies we run / race / compete with. The feelings of all females should never matter less than the feelings of a few trans-identifying males.”

The Women’s Rights Network echoed Davies’s sentiments, adding that Parkrun “would rather stop publishing age category data and rankings rather than allow fair sport for women and girls.”

“There’s only been uproar now because they’d rather wipe records than be fair to women.”

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Photo Credit: Steve Bateson//Athletics Weekly

Parkrun has previously experienced backlash in May when it was revealed that the long-standing Aberystwyth Parkrun women’s record was taken by Lauren Jeska, who completed the 5K course in 17:38.

Jeska was born male; however, transitioned to female prior to setting the Aberystwyth Parkrun record in the women’s category.

In 2017, Jeska was handed an 18-year prison sentence for the attempted murder of UK Athletics official Ralph Knibbs after he questioned her ability to compete in the women’s category and that her titles would be nullified as a result of her testosterone levels.

Despite the controversy and being behind bars, Jeska continued to hold the women’s record time at the Aberystwyth Parkrun.

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Jeffreys and Parkrun officials maintain that these adjustments were not directly influenced by controversies surrounding transgender athletes, but the debate highlights the complexities of ensuring fairness and equity in recreational sports.

“I think we need to be careful about making serious accusations – sadly, there is just a lot of anger and emotion in this conversation,” Jefferys told BBC5Live.

“I think we would all benefit from just turning the heat down and remembering that, in the end, Parkrun is a free, fun community event and a great way to start the weekend,” Jeffreys continued.

“I think the criticism we faced from the Women’s Rights Network and others is down to a total misunderstanding of what Parkrun is. It is not a race. It is not a competitive athletic event.

Despite the controversy, Parkrun continues to be one of the long-standing and most well-known running events around the world. Whether this decision impacts competition, motivation, or participation is something only time will tell.

Regardless, we’d suggest making sure your watch is charged before your next Parkrun.

Photo of author
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.

8 thoughts on “Parkrun Records Are Gone To “Promote Inclusivity” And Runners Aren’t Happy About It”

  1. It’s all very well saying there is a misunderstanding of what parkrun is but although it’s not a race it is a timed event and therefore even if people aren’t competing against each other they are trying to compete against themselves and better their time.. otherwise why is it timed? It is cowardly and I’ve gone from being a committed supporter of these events to being ambivalent to it.. such a shame

    Reply
    • Absolutely 100% Paul. I race myself each parkrun and EVERY week chase my PB. I’m a guy in my late 50’s with a 30 minute average, so I’ll never get close to crossing the finish line first.

      I use the fastest finishing time and course average finishing time as a gauge how difficult a given parkrun course may be. This allows me to plan a running strategy at places I’m visiting and unfamiliar with.

      Reply
  2. Hopefully another organisation will see this as an opportunity, and provide a better product. Our 6 year old twins (M/F) have recently started junior park run and it’s been a great tool to explain to them that you are only competing against yourself and the clock. The wait excitedly for the email to come in afterwards. It’s a shame spineless people see any form of competitiveness as lack of inclusion.

    Reply
  3. As I understand it full details of each parkrun are still published and all results are shown on participants own profiles so I can still check my friends.

    For a new comer I think the average course time which is still displayed rather than the course record is still a good indicator of how hard the course is, and probably works for the serious runner too?

    For me the changes seem pretty minor?

    Reply

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