Parkrun runners describe event as ‘a bit of fun’ and ‘inclusive’ amid trans row

Group of people run through a green area to illustrate Parkrun event

Parkrun attendees have described the event as “a bit of fun” and “inclusive” amid a row over its policy welcoming trans and non-binary runners. 

The organisation, which organises free weekly running events across the world, has continued to face anti-trans backlash for allowing trans women to record times in the female category. The criticism comes despite the event not marketing itself as a race but simply a non-competitive community run or walk. 

Following months of criticism, Parkrun was slammed at the beginning of February after it apparently stopped showing times for its fastest finishers due to an updated policy, with some criticising the move as being “unfair” to cisgender women, and claiming that results should be separated by biological sex.

Parkrun told PinkNews that its decision to remove some data, including course records and worldwide records, from its website does not relate to trans runners, and was instead a way to underline that the event is not a competitive race.

The organisation said runners will continue to receive personalised results via email.

“What was clear is that 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 – especially those who are anxious about activities such as Parkrun, but who potentially have an enormous amount to gain,” Parkrun said in a statement.

“We’ll continue to take steps to ensure that everyone is able to enjoy Parkrun for what it is: a free community event and an opportunity to be active, social and outside in a non-competitive, inclusive and welcoming environment,” it added.

Attendees have spoken out in support of Parkrun in the face of anti-trans criticism, describing the event, which has taken place since 2004 and seen 3.1 million finishers across the world, as “a bit of fun” and “inclusive”. 

“I think [trans inclusion] is more of a hot topic when it comes to Olympics,” one attendee told Sky News. “When it comes to Parkrun… people have got to remember that it is just a bit of a get-together, a bit of fun on a Saturday morning.”

Another told the outlet: “I think the debate about trans people in sports is being blown out of proportion… Make sports more inclusive, that’s the conversation that we should be having.”

One attendee stressed that “anyone and everyone” should have access to Parkrun.

Several people joined the conversation on Twitter/X, explaining that Parkrun is a non-competitive community event, and trans and non-binary people are welcome to join. 

“I go to Parkrun every week and it’s the least competitive sport event I’ve ever been to,” one user said. “Just people having a laugh in a field with the only competition coming from trying to beat your own times.”

“Anyone who’s ever been to a Parkrun will know what a friendly, welcoming and inclusive environment they offer,” another Twitter/X user said. 

Parkrun added to PinkNews in a statement that it is “absolutely committed to inclusivity, and breaking down barriers to participation for as many people as possible”.

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