The world’s largest community-organized 5,000-metre run has quietly erased records from its website, citing the need to promote gender inclusivity.
Parkrun’s decision has sparked a wave of backlash from runners online, who are accusing the organization of discriminating against women and erasing records to hide the fact that biological males are claiming top spots on womens’ rankings.
“Parkrun decision (is) not going down well. CEO Jefferys says it is a health charity, not a race – so are health charities allowed to discriminate against females? I doubt it. Gender self-ID continues so how many males will be running in the (female category) tmrw?” said marathon runner and two-time Olympian Mara Yamauchi on X.
Parkrun was founded in the U.K. but holds events across the world, including in Canada. There are Parkrun events in Victoria, Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and other cities across the country.
In a statement given to the Telegraph, Parkrun spokesperson said that the decision to eliminate records was made to open the organization to as many people as possible.
“There was a disconnect between the performance data displayed so prominently on the site, and our mission to create opportunities for as many people as possible to take part in parkrun events,” said the spokesperson.
In a radio interview with BBC, Parkrun CEO Russ Jefferys claimed that there was a misunderstanding behind people’s opposition to the erasure of records.
“‘The criticism we faced from the Women’s Rights Network and others is down to a total misunderstanding of what Parkrun is. It is not a race. It is not a competitive event,” said Jefferys.
The Women’s Rights Network argued that Jefferys’ views do not align with a majority of runners.
“For 20 years Parkrun has listed results, publicized fastest finishers, applauded age-group ‘winners.’ Thousands of parkrunners see it as a race and are bitterly disappointed that they will no longer be able to compare their results. If it’s not a race why are there world records?” wrote the Women’s Rights Network.
“We understand unfairness when we see it. parkrun allows males to self-identify into the female category which has led to males taking female course records and pushing all women parkrunners down the rankings.”
Parkrun’s stance on the issue does not align with other major running organizations. In 2023, World Athletics placed a ban on transgender athletes from competing in the women’s category.