The return of GoodGym group runs
How we're making group runs safe for everyone
May 07, 2021
Group runs have been on hold since the start of the pandemic. Here, Ed Field, our Head of Group Operations, explains the evidence and assessment behind our plans to bring them back in June.
I’m incredibly proud of what the GoodGym community has achieved this past year. When the true scale of the Covid-19 pandemic became apparent last March runners stepped up to meet the challenge. Mission runners went out in their thousands to support older people, TaskForce have had a huge impact by listing and leading community missions, while area activators kept everyone motivated and embraced the need to expand our work to reach more and more people.
Throughout all this group runs had to be placed on hold due to the higher risk they presented meeting in larger groups and running together through busy streets. There is now evidence that risks are reducing and with the knowledge around outdoor transmission and the vaccination programme we are in a position to bring them back.
I am happy to announce that group runs will be able to return in all areas of England and Wales with some mitigations from Monday 21st June.
GoodGym Hounslow tackling the brambles at Gunnersbury Park, the last group run report uploaded to the website before sessions were suspended last March.
We have to balance the risk to runners, task owners, older people and the general public in deciding if and how our activities can happen.
Recent research, including that used by Public Health England’s Transmision Group, indicates that the risk of transmitting Covid-19 outdoors is low, and that to keep this risk as low as possible environments should be fully open.
While the risk of transmission is low, a big factor in how and when group runs return is the impact of group runs on other pavement users. Social distancing is now the norm in public places and running on busy streets makes this difficult. We must be considerate to all and acknowledge that some people would feel uneasy being in close proximity to groups of runners on busy pavements.
The 21st June marks the date when all legal limits on social contact will be removed if the English government's roadmap goes to plan. At the time of writing over 52% of the population have received at least one vaccination and by the 21st June this will be far greater. Increased social contact is becoming increasingly common and the evidence suggests this is a safe time for group runs to return with some additional mitigations to keep the risks as low as possible.
An assessment of the risks of group runs:
This is an assessment of the risks of returning to group run activity in relation to Covid-19 pandemic, it is not a full assessment of group run activity and is not intended to replace other risk assessments for operational use.
As group runs return there will be some changes to make them more flexible and allow more local control. These came out of the workshop and surveys we held with runners last year and will help us achieve our objective of offering more sessions in every area by being more accessible and inclusive. Read the principles we agreed here. Area activators now have much more control over when and where sessions happen which will allow us to better serve the communities in which we operate. Each area will have at least one group session every week and there will be much more flexibility over when and where this happens.
Start locations: Area activators and run leaders will be free to choose to start group runs at different locations or to maintain the same one in order to best suit the needs of the group. This flexibility can allow us to reach more organisations in different locations through group runs.
Days and times: Area activators and run leaders will be able to organise group runs on a regular day if they choose to and will have the choice to organise them at different days and at different times if they see fit. This will allow us to be more accessible to those runners who cannot make evenings, and better serve task owners who require help at different times of the day.
Safety training: anyone who attends a group run or a community mission will have to complete short online training in order to participate. This only needs to be done once. This is being introduced in order to better manage risk on group sessions, and make everyone aware of the key health and safety points when attending a task. Everyone will need to sign up to a group run before attending: you will no longer be able to turn up without registering in advance.
We will proceed cautiously to ensure everyone, including the public, is safe and feels safe when participating or interacting with our activity.
Runners: Over the next month the new safety training will be sent to you and you can complete this ahead of group runs returning.
TaskForce: You will be sent the new TaskForce training within two weeks. Please complete this before group runs return. You may also want to make contact with your area activator to discuss their plans for group runs returning.
Run leaders: You will be sent the new run leader training within two weeks. Please complete this before 21st June as it is a requirement to lead group runs. You may also want to make contact with your area activator and let them know your availability for leading sessions from the 21st June.
Thanks for your support this past year and we look forward to welcoming you back to a group run soon.
If you have any questions or comments on the return of group runs please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org.