Parkrun has removed all gender, course and age records from its websites after rejecting a campaign to force transgender runners to record their gender at birth.
Backed by former Olympic athletes such as swimmer Sharron Davies and marathon runner Mara Yamauchi, groups including Women in Sport and the Policy Exchange are urging Parkrun to stop allowing entrants to identify their own gender , accusing event organizers of “sexual discrimination”.
The Policy Exchange found that at least three female Parkrun records were held by transgender women and campaigners said that by announcing records for age, gender, number of wins and courses, Parkrun must follow governing bodies such as UK Athletics through three categories prenatal protection for women. and girls.
Parkrun refused, arguing that inclusion was primarily a community event and public health charity rather than competitive performance, and that the records were only designed to increase interest and increase participation.
Campaigners warned sharply that allowing transgender women in the same female category record lists risked alienating women and girls and the report recommended Policy Exchange, which was also backed by tennis great Martina Navratilova and winner Olympic gold medalist Daley Thompson, that Sports England Parkrun should demand. to collect data based on biological sex.
They also wanted all records to be updated to reflect such a change. “If this does not happen within 12 months, taxpayer funding should be withdrawn,” the report says.
Campaigners with the slogan ‘Save Women’s Sports’ are protesting the Parkrun policy at events on a weekly basis.
There were concerns, however, that adopting a ‘gender by birth’ policy was not appropriate for an event such as Parkrun, where all sexes run together, and that it would discourage transgender people – whose transition could be completely private – get the massive health of the event. benefits.
Parkrun has now decided to remove a lot of data from its websites, including course records, age category records, Parkrun world records as well as statistics for most wins or going under a certain time period.
It will still publish the results every week with location, name, gender, age category and time. Participants can still search their current history and age rating, which is a relative measure of time by age and gender.
A statement from Parkrun is expected later on Thursday evening but the organizers are understood to accept that they could be seen as presenting the event as a race rather than a community run or walk.
They are also sure that they have been wondering for a long time whether so many ‘performance’ metrics were appropriate and that they were considering changes regardless of the gender identity campaign.
This move will be very controversial, however, with many runners who consider the data and the competitive element to be a major motivator for participation. Parkrun performance is also currently included in the grading of a competitive athlete on the Run Britain website.
“Many guys losing their s— over parkrun deleting/hiding data is a big revelation,” Yamauchi said after the changes. “I knew that men respect their own sports but this is really something. It’s a shame that many of them have had nothing to say all these years while their fellow men have ruined women’s sports.”
Campaign group Fair Play for Women said: “Parkrun is allowing men to hold women’s course records. Women complained that it was unfair. Rather than resolve the issue, Parkrun removed EVERYONE’s records from their website.”
Davies said it would be “very easy to add course records for trans men and trans women”.
She added: “Parkrun has long been guilty of sex discrimination and benefited from millions of pounds in public funding from UK Sport. Keep the sport fair for both sexes!”
As well as asking for age and gender, Parkrun allows people to select ‘prefer not to say’ or ‘other gender identity’ but this would mean that the age category, gender, gender position and age grade fields would be blank in the results.
Why Parkrun broke records and what it means for transgender runners
Why the change?
In its announcement, Parkrun admitted there was a “disconnect” between their performance data – namely the multiple record listings – on their websites and their mission to give as many people as possible the opportunity to participate.
The background is a campaign over the past year both at races and on social media for Parkrun to introduce a ‘gender at birth’ category rather than allowing people to identify themselves. Campaigners argued that all the records showed Parkrun was a competitive event and, in line with governing bodies such as UK Athletics, there should be no gender identity and protected female category for girls and women of birth . Parkrun was adamant that its overarching mission is participation – especially for those “who are concerned about parkrun-like activities, but have a lot to gain” – and chose to remove all-time records comparing runners .
What happens to current records?
Parkrun previously published a long list of all-time records alongside the weekly list of finishers. These records were part of the attraction of many runners and allowed people to compare their times with all previous runners on a course.
The records were broken down in different ways: by gender, by age categories all the way from children under 11 to people over 80 years old, by total number of wins and total number of runs on a given course . There were individual course records as well as categories for all runners who won a particular time on a course and the fastest ever 500 on a course as well as all-time Parkrun records.
All of these comparative records were suddenly removed from public display on Thursday morning and are no longer available for viewing. There are over 2,000 Parkruns and the changes apply to all events in the regular 5km Saturday morning Parkrun and 2km Sunday morning Junior Parkruns for four to 14 year olds..
Can I still get my personal records?
Parkrun will continue to publish a full list of weekly results in final order for each event. Details still published are: positions completed, name, gender, age group (going up in five-year brackets for adults), club and time. Runners can still view personal records by clicking on their name, which will include details of all their previous Parkruns, as well as their age rating for each run, which is calculated by rating their time according to their age and their gender.
However, this data will now only be available individually and not ranked alongside other participants. Runners will also receive an individual email after each run that will still list their personal position in their gender and age category.
What does it mean for transgender runners?
All runners can continue to choose whether to register as ‘female’, ‘male’, ‘prefer not to say’ or ‘other gender identity’. They will then be listed on the main weekly results page alongside their identified gender.
A ‘prefer not to say’ or ‘other gender identity’ answer would mean leaving a blank under the gender column in the results. Each runner will also be informed personally of where they finished by gender and age category but there will now be no all-time records or comparisons with other runners. Parkrun is an event where all genders and ages take part together so runners are listed on the weekly results wherever they cross the line.