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Sharron Davies questions Parkrun's decision to delete records after trans row

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Published Time: 10.02.2024 - 19:40:35 Modified Time: 10.02.2024 - 19:40:35

The former Olympic athlete had spent five years calling for Parkrun to change its approach to categorising runnersbut is unhappy at times being completely wiped from the website

The former Olympic athlete had spent five years calling for Parkrun to change its approach to categorising runnersbut is unhappy at times being completely wiped from the website.

By Rachel McGrath, reporter, and Matthew Thompson, correspondent

Saturday 10 February 2024 15:41, UK

Sharron Davies has questioned the timing of Parkrun's decision to wipe all speed records from its website and suggested the organisation has done so due to a debate about transgender runners.

Parkrun removed all speed records earlier this week and announced it will no longer be publishing data including first-place finishes, gender, course and age records. The organisation says it is because its runs are not competitive.

The move came amid criticism over transgender women being allowed to compete in the female category. In December, at least three Parkrun female records were held by transgender women, according to the thinktank Policy Exchange.

Speaking to Sky News, former Team GB Olympic swimmer Davies, who campaigns against trans women competing in female sporting categories, cast doubt on Parkrun's claim that the deletion was not sparked by the debate.

She said: "I'm sorry, I don't believe that this is something that they've had planned for months or years.

"I believe this is a reaction to the criticism that they've had recently about the competitiveness and the course records."

Parkrun said it had "made many changes" to its website over the years "and will continue to do so as we evolve", in a statement published on Thursday.

It also said a "global working group" had "spent many months making detailed investigations and recommendations" to ensure data on its website was "not off-putting and doesn't imply that Parkrun is a race".

Davies had spent five years campaigning for Parkrun to change its approach to recordsbut she is unhappy they have been removed completely.

The Olympian had instead suggested that "extra categories" could be added for trans athletes.

She said: "Personally, I would have preferred keeping the competitive results. But now this has happened. The men are all complaining that the records are gone but for five years men haven't been complaining.

"Hardly anyone has wanted to listen to our voice as women saying, 'please can we have fair sport?'."

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Davies also said Parkrun athletes' disappointment at records being wiped is proof they "did enjoy the competitive element" of taking part.

"There's no reason why that can't go on, but they just need to be fair and if that means bringing in some extra classifications, fantastic," she said.

Parkrun regular, Anna Garnier, told Sky News: "I was completely gutted, I couldn't believe it. On the trans issue, I think it's very, very tricky."

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