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Community / Hopes that Bressay parkrun could return in early July

THE POPULAR Bressay parkrun could potentially restart in early July – and it appears people are showing more interest than ever in the event.

The event, which is part of a UK-wide network of 5k runs, has been off limits since the coronavirus pandemic struck last year.

But Bressay event director Kate Wills said she is now being asked by parkrun headquarters to make preparations for potentially restarting around 3 July.

“It’s early stages so it may not go ahead,” she warned, “but it’s looking promising.”

Parkruns are free weekly community events held across the world on Saturday mornings in which participants can run, jog or walk over five kilometre distances. While it is timed, it is not a race.

There is increasing clamour for parkruns to be restarted due to their physical and mental benefits, with some UK government ministers calling for the events to resume in England.

Parkrun, however, said there have been issues in England with getting permission from landowners, while it also expressed worry about people travelling to areas where parkruns are being held.

Wills said she looked into whether the Bressay parkrun could receive special dispensation to resume with locals only to minimise the risk of the virus spreading, but it did not bear fruit.

“It’s such a good thing for Bressay and for the Speldiburn cafe and so on, but unfortunately there’s really no wiggle room there. As far as we know Scotland will start as a whole, and the head office decides that,” she said.

With more than 40 people on average taking part every Saturday morning – usually including people who travelled from the mainland – it has proved to be a popular event.

Around 20 volunteers also make sure things run smoothly.

“There was only one week in all the weeks that we did Bressay parkrun that we didn’t have a visitor from south, and very frequently we would have people travelling up specifically for the parkrun,” Wills said.

She also believes that interest in the Bressay event has risen, including from locals, with the pandemic encouraging more folk to think about being active.

“Because people have been doing more exercise, I think a lot of people are really enthusiastic about trying the parkrun,” Wills said.

“I have some reservations about how the capacity on the ferry [with social distancing] would cope with a really big increase in numbers but we hope to find a way to work around that.”

Wills would like to encourage all those planning to attend to sign up for a Shetland Islands Council ferries account card prior to attending in order to minimise contact on the vessel and prevent delay in gathering fares.

She added that there are many who have been helped by attending the Bressay parkrun since it started in January 2018. “People are really missing that social contact that was a guarantee every weekend, particularly for folk that are more isolated.”

Wills also said the Bressay parkrun will be looking for more volunteers to help host the event once it resumes due to likely social distancing requirements.

Meanwhile, the Simmer Dim half marathon is due to take place in Shetland on 20 June, but at this stage it will only be open to local residents.