On your marks, get set, parkrun! Campaigners win battle to run free in Tooting parks

Wandsworth runners have sprinted across the finishing line and won the race to bring free community running to the area.

After months of non-stop efforts elated campaigners yesterday managed to convince the council to scrap charges and let parkrun race through the borough’s green spaces – starting with a one-year trial in Tooting Common.

The news was announced in a series of tweets last night by the Parkrun for Wandsworth team.

A campaigner tweeted: “Stand by your beds, we have a pretty big announcement to make … *clears throat*”

“DEAL DONE– parkrun comes to Wandsworth on a 12-month trial! Route on Tooting Com [sic] being finalised. More info..probably much later #andbreathe

“Thank you, thank you if you did even the tiniest thing: be hugely happy in the knowledge we did a good thing here, together – yay us!”

“Seems like the right tune, maybe change the second syllable 🙂 #happyjig …

“p.s. I’m off to the pub for a bit. Cheers.”

An online petition attracted thousands of signatures and late last year a council spokesperson told South West Londoner a solution was being worked out.

Marathon runner Tooting MP Sadiq Khan, who supported the petition, said: “This is great news for our borough, and a brilliant example of what we can achieve when the community campaigns together.”

Mr. Khan tweeted: “Just heard the great news – @parkrunUK is coming to #Wandsworth!Fab job @parkrun4wands,glad to have helped the campaign”

SadiqKhan running

Keen runner and campaign supporter Councillor Ben Johnson said: “Wandsworth Council’s leadership was persuaded thanks to a really impressive campaign by the parkrun for Wandsworth team.

“I can’t wait to take part in my first parkrun!”

The long-running clash between runners and the council was due to a policy to charge for the use of the borough’s green spaces.

Parkrun is a volunteer-led, community-based initiative that organises free 5km races around the world every Saturday morning.

There are currently 2,837 clubs in 303 locations across the country and hundreds in Ireland, Australia, Denmark, New Zealand, Poland, Russia, South Africa and the USA.

In December 2014, Parkrun founder Paul Sinton-Hewitt told South West Londoner : “We’re absolutely positive about Wandsworth for the future – it just sometimes things take longer than you hope they will.”

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