Thousands of runners are taking part in a 5K race to trial the safe return of mass sporting events, without the need for social distancing.
Runners and spectators taking part in the Reunion 5K at Kempton Park in Surrey on Saturday (15 May) will help to provide the government with scientific data on Covid transmission levels.
‘An important step’
The event involves both a socially distanced and non-socially distanced 5K run, as part of the UK government’s Events Research Programme, which is gathering data to help plan for the safe return of mass participation sport and events.
Around 1,000 socially distanced runners set off at regular intervals in the first group of races, and were watched by a socially distanced crowd of spectators.
Following this, a further 1,000 runners who did not have to follow social distancing began their 5K, and spectators were not be required to keep apart during this race.
Organiser Hugh Brasher, the event director of London Marathon Events, described the event as “such an important step towards the return of large mass participation events in towns and cities across the UK”.
Mr Brasher said he had noticed that people have been cautious about entering an event which enables them to run in close proximity to each other for the first time in 15 months.
He added: “With hindsight, this is entirely understandable when social distancing has been our way of life since lockdown began.
“Research is now showing that the risk of transmission of Covid-19 outdoors is extremely low and we all know how important exercise and these mass events are to mental and physical health and to inspiring people to change their behaviour and adopt a healthier lifestyle.”
Providing essential data
Mr Brasher is hoping the 5K race will help see the return of all kinds of running events to the sporting calendar going forward, including local parkruns, the Great North Run or the London Marathon.
Sports Minister Nigel Huddlestone said the Reunion 5k could help provide “essential data on the safe return of mass participation events”.
He said: “It’s fantastic to see so many runners and spectators getting involved in this event which will feed into policy decisions ahead of step 4 of the road map and hopefully see things like the great London Marathon return with crowds.”
The race follows a club night event which was held in Liverpool at the end of last month, to trial the safe reopening of nightclubs.
The event saw more than 6,000 people pack into a warehouse at Bramley-Moore Dock over two consecutive nights, as officials gathered evidence on how venues can safely reopen without the need for social distancing.
Clubbers were subject to a lateral flow Covid test before entering the club, and were asked to take a second test after the event.
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