One of the country’s most accomplished sporting icons has hit out at government’s decision to keep the nation locked down under level one regulations, with Parkrun founder Bruce Fordyce admitting he has been left fuming as the popular weekly events remain suspended.
While President Cyril Ramaphosa revealed on Wednesday night that some restrictions would be lifted, the decision to remain under lockdown meant that outdoor public gatherings were still confined to 500 people.
This meant Parkrun would have to keep its doors closed for the foreseeable future.
“I’m beyond frustrated. Absolutely furious, to be honest,” Fordyce, the founder of Parkrun SA, said on Thursday.
“It’s completely mind boggling and I’d love to know who the experts are who are advising government.”
Though elite domestic athletics competitions had recently resumed, the immediate challenge for Parkrun organisers was to open some of the smaller events without masses of people from other areas flocking to them.
Until they could find a solution, the 225 weekly Parkruns around the country remained on hold.
“We’re trying everything we possibly can, and we’re having a look at some of our Parkruns which have smaller numbers,” said Fordyce, who earned a record nine victories at the Comrades Marathon between 1981 and 1990.
“We know we’ll be back and we just have to bide our time, but never in my life have I known such frustration.”
With thousands of people regularly turning out at Parkruns around the country since the local franchise was launched in 2011, Fordyce believed their participants were equally annoyed.
It had been eight months since Parkruns were suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I get calls every day from everywhere: When can we start? Why can’t we start?” Fordyce said.
“We were really hoping that on Wednesday night the President would end the whole state of disaster. Everybody is terribly frustrated.”