Parkrun under fire for removing course records for inclusivity
Parkrun, the world’s largest weekly timed 5K event, has come under fire over a decision to remove men’s and women’s course records from its database. The move, aimed at fostering inclusivity and fairness, has sparked controversy within the running community.
Originating in the U.K., parkrun attracts hundreds of participants of all abilities to take part in timed 5K runs held in parks, trails and open spaces every Saturday morning, at locations across the globe. Each parkrun course featured men’s and women’s records and showed the fastest 500 finishers (of all time) on that course, plus age-graded results. However, in response to accusations of unfairness, particularly regarding its entry rules related to self-identification of gender, parkrun has chosen to eliminate the records altogether.
A spokesperson for parkrun explained that this decision was made to increase registration and participation while removing potential barriers. “There was a disconnect between the performance data displayed so prominently on the site, and our mission to create opportunities for as many people as possible to take part in parkrun events,” a spokesperson told The Telegraph.
The decision has stirred controversy, leaving several runners frustrated and arguing that rather than addressing concerns about fairness, parkrun’s move made the issue worse. “Rather than give females their fair sports results from parkrun–where it would be very easy to add course records for non-binary categories, they have removed all records,” a woman tweeted. “I hope parkrun will listen to the fact that the vast majority want a fair sport for all based on the biological reality of the bodies we run/race/compete with.”
Last year, World Athletics banned transgender athletes from competing in the female category, citing concerns of fairness and competitive advantage. However, parkrun differs from elite competitions, being a community-driven, volunteer-led event focused on fun and participation rather than prizes or accolades.
When registering for parkrun, participants are asked to specify their gender, with options including ‘prefer not to say’ and ‘another gender identity’ in addition to male and female. Parkrun has clarified that the intention behind the decision is to reduce the competitive nature of its events and eliminate the perception that the weekly runs are races. This approach aims to create a more welcoming environment for participants of all abilities.
posted Sunday February 11th
by Running Magazine