Wandsworth Council has withdrawn permission for upcoming races to take place in Battersea Park in light of the recent rise in coronavirus cases.
The decision was made last week and confirmed to be an operational decision that didn’t require a full council meeting.
Kate Carter, lifestyle editor at the Guardian and a competitive runner who runs in Battersea Park, was infuriated by the decision.
She said: “It seems both short-sighted and to go against everything we know about both the low risk of outdoor coronavirus transmission, and the huge importance of promoting healthy lifestyles and activity in actively reducing people’s individual risk.
“The council seems to be happy to host funfairs, outdoor cinemas and other events galore, yet socially distanced and extremely well thought-through and safe running events are banned, which makes no sense at all.”
There were several races due to take place in Battersea Park in the next few months, including the popular 5km and 10km Run-Throughs scheduled for October 24th.
The cancellation of this race will affect the 500 participants who had already signed up.
It is not yet known for how long running competitions in Battersea Park will be suspended, but another event that will be affected is the Sri Chinmoy Golden Leaf 10km, which is scheduled for November 14th.
Taking to Twitter to express dismay at the council’s decision to cancel upcoming Battersea Park races, one runner tweeted: “I ran a Run-Through 10k there in September that was really well organised and at no point did I feel unsafe in relation to social distancing – real shame.”
Speaking about the council’s decision, Labour councillor for Queenstown, Paula Walker, said: “We are very supportive of any measures taken to keep people safe during the pandemic, however it is important for people to be active too.”
Conservative Queenstown councillor Steffi Sutters added: “It is regrettable that in the interests of social distancing and community safety, a decision has been taken to cancel events in the park for now.
“I would hope they could be reinstated as soon as possible as I know many who were to take part in the run will be disappointed.
A spokesperson for the council said: “These are risky events and we want to do everything we can to protect the public and prevent the risk of another London lockdown.”
They added that it is a temporary measure that will be kept under constant review depending on the latest health advice.
The current government health guidance for outdoor spaces in London allows people to meet in groups of up to six people from different households, following social distancing rules.