Cuerden Valley Parkrun is scrapped in row over "huge hidden costs"
Bosses at Cuerden Valley Park have pulled the plug on a popular Park Run event in a row over money.
The event, which ran weekly since 2013 prior to Covid restrictions, attracted hundreds of runners to the 5km course through park paths.
Park manager Simon Thorpe said the decision had been taken by trustees "with regret", but that it was "not equitable" for the runs to continue without any help towards the maintenance of the park, especially when Parkrun attracts big-named commercial sponsors.
He said: "Parkrun is a global success and we know that many runners enjoyed the Cuerden Valley course, with almost 50,000 individual runs completed since 2013.
"However while it is free to participate in parkrun it is not without cost. There are huge hidden costs incurred by Parkrun Ltd and from host organisations with the upkeep of the spaces and places in which parkrun events happen every week.
“Parkrun’s recent fundraising campaign parkrun Forever, to protect parkrun for future generations, is evidence of these mounting costs. Unfortunately none of this income will be used to protect the venues including Cuerden Valley Park and will be going to cover growing head office costs as the global parkrun movement expands. It seems illogical and unsustainable for parkrun not to invest in the places where parkrun happens.”
He added: "It is not equitable post-Covid 19 that a national organisation which attracts sponsorship deals with companies like Persil and Vitality, continues to use the Park for free 52 times a year, while the Trust faces huge financial struggles after 12 months of lockdown to continue to provide a safe greenspace for the local community.
"Tough decisions have had to be made across the Trust’s charitable activities and services to ensure the Park survives for future generations and unfortunately we can not continue to provide a free venue for this organised sporting event.
"We would like to thank parkrunners for their tremendous support over the last few years and in particular Pita Oates as event organiser who put in hundreds of hours of voluntary time to keep the event going."
Hundreds of people have voiced their disappointment at the news on social media, some calling the move "short sighted" and claiming the Trust will lose revenue from the cafe and car parking.
Mr Thorpe hit back, saying that while disappointment was understandable, it was "short sighted of Parkrunners to continue to insist on running for free at a time when parks have a huge need for investment following a decade of austerity and a surge in public use over the last 12 months".
Mr Thorpe said plans for a new regular, fee-attracting 5km were being developed. The sponsorship and income from this event will go towards the upkeep of the park.
A spokesman for Park Run said: "We're disappointed that the local community will no longer have access to free, weekly physical activity. However, a landowner has the right to determine what takes place on their land and whilst we don't agree with their decision to remove permission for parkrun, we have no choice but to respect it, and to try and find an alternative location."