Parkrun Community Rallies to Restore Beloved Running Statistics

March 28, 2024

For millions of parkrun enthusiasts worldwide, the allure of the weekly events extended far beyond the physical act of running. It was about the bonds formed, the personal achievement, and the thrill of chasing goals. Central to this experience were the cherished statistics and records that adorned local parkrun websites, serving as a testament to individual progress and community spirit. However, when these statistics suddenly vanished without warning earlier this year, William Hartley, an ordinary parkrunner like many others, refused to accept their disappearance quietly.

The decision by parkrun to remove vital statistics such as the fastest 500 parkrunners at each location, age-graded league rankings, first-finishers, and age-category records left a void in the hearts of dedicated participants. For William, who had found inspiration and motivation in tracking his improvement over six years, this change felt not only arbitrary but deeply disappointing.

In response, William took it upon himself to spearhead a grassroots movement aimed at reinstating these beloved statistics. Recognising the significance of these records to the parkrun community, he played a key role in promoting the two petitions and rallied fellow parkrunners worldwide to lend their voices to the cause.

"I didn't understand why part of my hobby needed to be removed in a way that felt arbitrary," William reflects. "These stats and lists had been a fundamental part of the parkrun experience for two decades without issue."

The petitions garnered immense support, with over 25,000 parkrunners signing in solidarity. Among the signatories were dedicated volunteers, run directors, event directors, and ambassadors from various corners of the globe, all united by their passion for parkrun and its accompanying statistics.

But the movement didn't stop at signatures on a digital petition. Parkrunners worldwide mobilised, utilising social media platforms, local running groups, and even creating dedicated Facebook groups and Strava communities to amplify their message. Bumper stickers emblazoned with #BringBackTheStats adorned cars, while parkrun milestone t-shirts became canvases for protest art.

Martin Kelly
Martin Kelly at Marlay parkrun in Dublin two weeks ago.

In an effort to engage parkrun leadership directly, William, along with petition writers Mary Taylor and Mark Purvis, as well as six other representative parkrunners from places like Singapore, Australia, South Africa, England, Poland, and Ireland penned open letters articulating the community's grievances and presenting viable compromises. However, initial responses from parkrun's CEO Russ Jeffreys and founder Paul Sinton-Hewitt left much to be desired, with the community feeling their concerns were brushed aside.

"We presented options for compromise, such as disclaimers or opt-in features for viewing the lists," William explains, but it felt like their voices weren't being heard.

Despite the setback, William and his fellow parkrunners remained steadfast in their resolve, launching further appeals and continuing to engage with parkrun leadership in the hopes of finding a solution that satisfied both parties.

"This is not just about statistics; it's about community representation and the essence of what parkrun stands for," William asserts. "We're not asking for the impossible; we're asking to be heard."

With the support of thousands behind them, William and his fellow advocates remain determined to see their beloved statistics reinstated, confident that their collective voice will eventually prevail.

As the parkrun community awaits a resolution, one thing remains abundantly clear: the spirit of determination that defines parkrun extends far beyond the finish line, echoing in the resounding call to #BringBackTheStats.

You can find the link to the petition here: https://www.change.org/p/reins...

Featured Image: Shane Grund, ran Chelsea Bicentenial parkrun in Melbourne, Australia last Saturday morning 23rd in 14:47. It would have been a course record for that parkrun and an incredible effort.