A UNIVERSITY has vowed to work more closely with a Parkrun group after it planted hundreds of trees across the runners' route forcing organisers to cancel the popular event.

Voluntary leaders at Durham parkrun took to Facebook to notify runners that the Saturday morning event would be cancelled this week.

Co event director, Antony Clish, said the volunteers first noticed strange bumps they thought were mole hills at last week's run, which is held next to Durham University's Maiden Castle sports facility.

After enquiring with staff at the site, they were told the 'hills' were in fact trees that had been planted as part of a university development on the private land.

The Northern Echo:

Runners take part in Durham parkrun last year. A gallery can be found here

Just days later they returned to find hundreds of trees had been planted, leaving no room for the hundreds of runners to start the free course.

Many runners took the Facebook to voice their annoyance at the news, with many now having to travel to other Parkruns across the region to take part in the weekly event.

One runner, who wanted to remain anonymous, said: "I'm just disgusted with the whole thing; it's just a shock to see especially when we have done so many runs there."

Mr Clish said that while the group acknowledged the university had every right to plant trees on the site; a lack of communication or any prior warning had left volunteers with no option but to cancel this week's 5k run.

He said: "We would just like to clarify that we are not against the planting of trees and are grateful, as ever, to the university for allowing us to use their facilities as they have done for all of our 361 runs. Of course we need time to find a new 5k route and will work with the university to achieve this over the weekend."

Mr Clish said the only aspect the group felt critical about was the lack of communication.

Owen Adams, pro-vice-chancellor (colleges and sudent experience), said: “We’ve proudly supported this much-loved community event over 350 times, and we’ve every intention of doing so for the next 350 and beyond.

"The trees are a condition of planning permission. The holes to plant the trees were unexpectedly dug over the last few days, but we’re working with parkrun to quickly devise an alternative route in time for the weekend after next.

“Prior to parkrun’s post, we’d already met with the organisers and we’ll be meeting again on Saturday with the objective of finalising an alternative route. Maiden Castle is a large site and we’ll find an alternative area for Parkrun to start.”