Just two months ago I commented that the idea to charge people to exercise in their local park was absurd. Parkrun offer an opportunity for anybody to run a timed 5k course in many different parks across the country. The Little Stoke Parish Council were intent on charging people for running in the great outdoors and unfortunately, Little Stoke Parkrun has now been closed for good as a result of the council’s decision.
After the announcement was made that Little Stoke Parkrun was under threat, the Parkrun community and the wider public displayed their strong opposition to the plan. A quick look at the Parkrun Discussion Group on Facebook shows the depth of emotion attached to this issue. The public did not want to see one of it’s free and popular events being taken away. But, as ever with political decisions, the public’s opinion mattered not.
The decision to close the run in these circumstances comes as little surprise as Parkrun’s philosophy is that exercise should be free and accessible to all. The council’s failure to recognise that such an event has a positive and beneficial impact to society comes as a huge disappointment to those who have put the effort into creating such a communal event.
It is a decision which condones a modern trait in life. To see every activity, every second of every day as an opportunity for profit. But at what cost? Oscar Wilde made famous the quote ‘a cynic is a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing’, on this evidence, society is full of cynics. At the very least, those in power are!
Little Stoke Parkrun has existed since 2012 and, in that time, many runners have completed the course. For many, Little Stoke provided a regular and local opportunity to meet up with like-minded people doing something healthy. Unfortunately, that opportunity is now gone forever.