Stopped in its tracks

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Some of the Parkrun participants outside the gate in question. Photo: Megan Dunn

Popular Penrith fitness event ‘Parkrun’ could be at risk of shutting down after access to ‘Gate D’ at the Sydney International Regatta Centre was closed off.

Over 300 runners take part in the five kilometre run every Saturday, where friendships have been made and where participants have found a new love of fitness.

But all of that could soon be taken away if an alternate option isn’t put forward soon.

As the second anniversary of the event approaches, Penrith Lakes Parkrun Event Director, Shelley Cootes, said the group are worried Parkrun might be shut down after the gates were closed at the end of March.

“Several events are held every Saturday, and because of this we really need our own car park to fit all of us in,” she said.

“There is currently an alternative car park where participants can walk 800 metres to the start line, but this isn’t a viable long term solution as when another event is on at the same time. We may have to cancel ours due to lack of parking spaces.”

Ms Cootes affirmed that Parkrun was an important event for many people considering the statistics the nation is confronted with on a daily basis.

Weekender Journalist Jade Aliprandi talking about the future of Parkrun with local participants. Photo: Megan Dunn

Penrith Lakes Development Corporation (PLDC) own the land in front of Gate D, which acts as a driveway and access point into the Regatta Centre.

PLDC Project Director, Mick O’Brien, said the decision was made after a number of traffic disruptions.

“The land in front of Gate D is situated on private property owned by PLDC and more importantly, traffic using this access cuts across the path of all authorised vehicles entering and leaving the PLDC site, including many heavy vehicles and machinery,” he said in a statement.

“We have had a situation where several hundred cars arrive for some events and were entering and leaving through this gate, blocking our entry and exit driveway.”

A spokesperson for the Office of Sport told the Weekender they are in discussions with PLDC in regards to continued access and possible other alternative means of accessing the Final Basin other than through Gate D.

With over 3800 people registered for the event, Ms Cootes said it would be an “absolute tragedy to lose Parkrun”.

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