The return of parkrun was met with scenes of jubilation on Saturday as the weekly running club took place in England for the first time since the start of the Covid pandemic.
After 16 months without the weekly ritual, thousands of runners took part in 5km runs across the country, from Cliffe Castle in West Yorkshire to Bushy Park in south-west London.
After the lifting of coronavirus restrictions in England on Monday, outdoor running events such as the London Marathon, the Great North Run and the Brighton Marathon will be allowed to return.
Some runners tried to maintain the community spirit remotely with virtual parkruns during lockdown, but they were elated to return to doing them with others.
Participants, including lots of first-timers, shared pre-, mid- and post-run selfies and videos of themselves celebrating its return – some with champagne and others in fancy dress – and their times online.
In Bushy Park, where the event was founded in 2004, an enormous crowd of runners, plus dogs and pushchairs, took part.
The parkrun founder, Paul Sinton-Hewitt, said he was “excited and emotional” about the event’s return.
The BBC newsreader Sophie Raworth, who shared a video of herself cheering with fellow journalist Felicity Baker, tweeted: “This is what it feels like to finish your 1st @parkrunUK … Great to be back at Parkrun.”
Other runners included the housing secretary, Robert Jenrick, and the deputy chief medical officer for England, Jonathan Van-Tam, who were pictured elbow bumping at the Newark run. Jenrick tweeted: “Jenrick v JVT” alongside a picture of himself with Van-Tam. “Great to see @parkrunUK back, across the country and especially here in Newark,” he added.
A runner taking part in the Lytham Park run in Lancashire said they were so excited about its return that they planned to sleep with their parkrun wristband.
Parkrun has already returned to Northern Ireland where Helen Hood, the head of event delivery, said the organisation was “working towards” returning to Scotland and Wales on 14 August. Junior parkrun is open across the UK.
Nick Pearson, the parkrun chief executive, tweeted footage from one run, saying: “And there it is England.” He thanked “everyone that’s stuck with us over the last 16 months”.