Cancel Or Not To Cancel?

Barry Island parkrun Cancellations - How they Work

Dear Barry Island parkrunners,

Like many parkruns across the country, last Saturday was our 1st cancellation (ever) due to the weather conditions. We appreciate the support and thanks we received via Social Media and in person for taking the decision to cancel the run in the best interests of our runners’ safety.

As a follow-up, we’d like to clarify a few things about our approach to cancelling a run.

The first thing we should say is that we (the Core Team) are very keen to ensure that the runs go ahead if it’s safe. Some parkruns choose to cancel their run on a Friday night if the forecast looks particularly bad, but our view is that we should leave the decision as late as possible. This might backfire occasionally if we have to cancel late and people have travelled, but on balance, that is what we would rather do. We will let runners know on Friday evenings if there’s to be a Saturday morning course inspection, so you can tune-in for updates.

The responsibility for deciding whether we run or not rests with that day’s Run Director. They are the only people approved to do so by parkrun HQ, UK Athletics and our insurers. Each event must regularly submit a Risk Assessment, which documents what we should look for and how we should respond to hazards such as ice, high winds, high tides, etc.

Generally, our Run Directors are on site at 8.15 a.m. and will start to lay out the course, etc. On days where there might be a cancellation, they will be on site earlier (with one or more other Run Directors, if possible) to carry out a course inspection and assess any additional course hazards such as icy patches. If they can remove or adequately mitigate the additional risks and be 100% sure that our runners will be safe then they will go ahead with the run.

They have to bear in mind that we are catering for all sorts of runners and we have a duty of care to them all. Not everyone is a seasoned runner with Cross Country experience. We also have to take into account how safe it is to get to/from the course itself - as there may be additional local hazards such as wet or icy pavements.
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Checking the conditions...photos by Julie Broughton, Ian Thorne

Those of you who ventured down last Saturday can testify how slippery some of the paths and pavements around the prom., as well as the prom. itself, were at 9:00 a.m. despite it being a lovely sunny (if still cold) morning, by then. We certainly hope they didn’t spot 3 Run Directors trying (and failing) to get up the big ramp near the Eastern shelter on all fours!

Our guidance from parkrun HQ is very clear…If we are at all unsure we MUST cancel. Going ahead and saying “runners do so at their own risk” is not acceptable. It is either an official parkrun, done within the usual rules or it is a ‘freedom run’ with no marshals, no signage, no timing and no results.

Depending on the particular hazards, it might be possible to use our alternative, 3 lap course - and if it’s safe to do so, then we will. However, the same Run Director decision still needs to be made…”Am I, confident that runners will be safe (within reasonable limits) and that I am not taking undue risks by allowing the run to proceed?”

When a cancellation is necessary our intention is to notify runners as early as possible - preferably by about 8:00 a.m. We will post this out via Social Media and email* and via on our website (in that order). However, there may be rare occasions where this isn’t possible and we have to cancel at 9:00 a.m. For example, we are waiting for the sun to come up and melt ice on the course.

We hope this clarifies the situation and decision making process. However, if you still have any queries or ideas please email us at barryislandoffice@parkrun.com

Thanks, Lyn and Ian

(Event Directors)

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