Dogs to be banned from Norwich parkrun, after organisers say they make the event too risky

PUBLISHED: 21:17 19 March 2017 | UPDATED: 21:23 19 March 2017

The Norwich parkrun in Eaton Park. Organisers have reluctantly banned dogs from the event. 

The Norwich parkrun in Eaton Park. Organisers have reluctantly banned dogs from the event. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

Archant Norfolk

Dog owners are to be banned from running with their pets in the Norwich parkrun, after organisers reluctantly decided it was making the event too risky.

Organisers of the popular run, which takes place in Eaton Park, said the sheer number of people who now take part in the event meant the safety of dogs and runners was being compromised.

The new policy, which the organisers say was taken with the full support of parkrun’s headquarters. means dogs will no longer be able to take part from Saturday, April 8.

Richard Polley, event director of Norwich parkrun said the decision had been taken with a “heavy heart, but a clear head.”

In a statement on the Norwich parkrun website, he said: “It’s just that the sheer numbers of runners attending these days is such that to allow runners with dogs to continue to take part is simply a risk not worth taking - both for the dogs themselves and for all the runners around them.

“When we started the Norwich parkrun in 2010 we had around a hundred runners taking part each week and runners with dogs were not a problem.

“However, nowadays our attendances are much different - last Saturday, for instance, we had 647 finishers.”

He said the nearest parkruns which continue to support runners with dogs are at Catton and Mulbarton, only five miles away from the Eaton Park course.

Mr Polley acknowledged the decision was likely to prove controversial. But he said: “I’m sure that there will be some people who won’t agree with our decision but, as event director, it’s my name on the risk assessment and therefore my responsibility to ensure that everyone stays safe at the Norwich parkrun.”

People on Facebook, including those with dogs, were generally understanding of the decision.

Stephen Terry posted: “That’s a pity, but perfectly understandable. It’s getting a bit dangerous just with the people.”

Bethany Erdman said: “I totally agree with this. I tried Norwich once with my dog, found it too crowded and was always looking over my shoulder and couldn’t relax. Tried Catton and have never looked back. Much more relaxing and enjoyable with a dog. I hope no-one is upset with your decision.”

Will Law posted: “Sensible decision and one I agree with for the safety of both runners and dogs.”

Maree Marks said: “Understandable with the sheer number of runners.”

But Mark Wortham said: “I don’t see a problem with well behaved dogs running on a short lead. What is the ‘risk’ that’s not worth taking?”

Parkruns around Norfolk have proved enormously popular, with around 2,000 runners taking part in them each week.

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