Many Northern Ireland parkruns are getting set to return more than a year after they were first suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The weekly timed 5km runs will get under way at venues across Northern Ireland this Saturday, although one of the largest runs at Belfast’s Ormeau Park will not yet resume.
The Waterworks parkrun in north Belfast, which was one of the first to launch on the island of Ireland in 2010, will be one of the locations to welcome back participants. The Stormont parkrun will also take place in east Belfast.
In a post on Facebook, Ormeau parkrun organisers said their event would not be able to return on Saturday as hoped. “We’ll keep you updated with any further developments,” they said.
Participants at parkrun events have been advised to adhere to a number of measures and have been asked not to high-five others and to practice social distancing.
In a statement, a spokesperson for parkrun said: “We are very pleased to announce that 5k parkrun events in Northern Ireland will reopen on Saturday, June 26 under our Covid-19 Framework.
“Please do however check your local event pages for any cancellations.”
On the parkrun website, the organisation welcomed the return of the event.
“We would like to thank the ambassadors and event teams who have completed all the necessary checklists and confirmed relevant permissions,” it said.
Junior parkrun events are open across Wales, Northern Ireland and England and when 5k events do return 11-14 year olds will be welcome to walk, jog or run at junior events once more, they said.
Parkrun events are free and typically attract large numbers of people of all abilities every week. They were stopped last March amid increasing Covid-19 restrictions. The initiative began in London in October 2004 and grew to include more than 30 events in Northern Ireland and almost 100 in the Republic before coronavirus.
There are 729 different locations across the UK holding the weekly events and more than three million registered runners.
In recent months as government restrictions lifted, parkrun organisers took a safety-first approach in an effort to allow event organisers and landowners time to prepare for reopening. They also needed a significant number of landowners to give permission for races to return to avoid overcrowding at the mass participation event.