More than 17,500 people have signed a petition to allow Parkrun to continue at a park near Bristol.
Stoke Gifford Parish Council voted to become the first in the world to charge Parkrun a fee for use of its grounds.
Hundreds take part in two free, timed runs organised by Parkrun UK in Little Stoke Park on Saturdays.
Councillors claimed it was “unfair” to expect non-running residents to pay for path upkeep. Organisers said it meant the end of the Little Stoke event.
At Tuesday’s meeting, the parish council voted six to four in favour of charges for “wear and tear”.
The decision has been met with strong criticism online, with double Olympic champion Dame Kelly Holmes tweeting: “Have I missed the whole reason park runs exist and are free? Parish council decision is a disgrace.”
While marathon runner Paula Radcliffe tweeted she was “totally against this decision”.
A petition against the decision has attracted more than 17,500 names and got the backing of the London Marathon, which said it would “stand behind” Parkrun as “free to all”.
Parish council chairman Ernie Brown said he “fully understands the upset” but it is not about “trying to charge people for running”.
“The football club, they pay £60 for the hire of the pitch,” he said.
‘Contribute to upkeep’
“We’re not proposing to charge £60 but at the same time as an organisation they should contribute towards the upkeep.”
But event co-director Becky Bushnell said the “distinction” was that Parkrun was a “not for profit organisation”.
“It’s not like a football club that charges subscription, it is run by volunteers and its free to participate,” she said.
“We feel the community benefits far outweigh any kind of charge required for use of the park.”
About 300 adults and children take part in the timed runs in the park. …read more
Source:: BBC world news feed