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New Durham City Run Festival promises three days of fun for every generation

Durham County Council and Events of the North have revealed plans for a new three-day running festival in the city centre.  The first ever Durham City Run Festival will feature films, talks, book signings, a running expo, free running activities, and a mile challenge, all alongside the already popular Prince Bishops 5K and 10K runs and the world premiere of a new family running concept.  With activities and attractions for all ages, the festival will run from Thursday 25 July until Saturday 27 July.

During three summer days, the Durham City Run Festival will take over the historic city centre with a packed programme of free and paid for activities.  On each day, the Gala Theatre will host a schedule of films and talks, including a special celebration of Sir Roger Bannister on the evening of Friday 26 July, supported by Durham University.  Sir Roger, who passed away in 2018, was the first man to run a mile in under four minutes, 65 years ago, a feat that the British public voted as the greatest sporting achievement of the 20th Century.  Members of Sir Roger’s familywill participate in a unique evening that will include a screening of the acclaimed documentary ‘Everest on the Track’.  The film will be followed by a discussion and audience Q&A that will also feature British (and former world) record holder for the mile Steve Cram, marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe and Sir Roger’s daughter, Charlotte Bannister.

The Durham City Run Festival will offer a wide variety of running events for all ages and abilities, including free themed group runs throughout Friday 26 July.  These accessible and very sociable sessions have been designed to encourage more people to try running without feeling the pressure of being in a racing environment.  The themed runs will be free to take part in and will include: A breakfast run; a buggy run with Durham Mums on the Run; ‘Healthy bodies = healthy minds’ runs; and plogging (picking up litter while jogging) with Sedgefield Ploggers.

Now well-established on the North East running calendar, the Prince Bishops 5k and 10K will return on the evening of Thursday 25 July.  Both events sold out in 2018 and are expected to fill up quickly again this year.  Their routes take runners through the ancient streets of Durham to a spectacular finish at the World Heritage Site, with the backdrop of Durham Cathedral and Castle.  New as part of the Durham City Run Festival and supported by Durham University will be the ‘Run Like a Legend Mile’ on Friday 26 July, an opportunity for runners to find out how fast they can complete the classic distance.  Following a scenic riverside out-and-back route, those who decide to take on the challenge will be able to record an official time in waves that set off throughout the day.

Completing the running activities at the Durham City Run Festival will be the world premiere of a new concept for families.  The brainchild of marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe, ‘Families on Track’ will be held on Saturday 27 July and will give family groups the opportunity to work together to complete a set distance, in a format that allows everyone to contribute, no matter what their age or ability.  Supported by Atom Bank, Durham will be hosting the first ever Families on Track event and Paula Radcliffe will be on hand to make sure that everything runs smoothly and encourage generations of runners as they take on the challenge.  Full details of Families on Track will be released at the end of March.

Event founder Steve Cram comments: “We’re incredibly excited about the Durham City Run Festival, which brings something very new to both the city and the region.  The festival offers an amazing variety of activities and attractions and we’re making sure that there’s something on the programme that will appeal to anyone who has an interest in running, in whatever way.  Working with Durham County Council and its Gala Theatre, we’ve secured some phenomenal content for what will be three brilliant summer days and nights.”

  Cllr Ossie Johnson, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for tourism, culture, leisure and rural issues, said: “We’re delighted to be supporting the inaugural Durham City Run Festival in this our Year of Culture.Previous years’ Durham City Runs have been successful in terms of the economic boost which result from so many people coming into our county, as well as the obvious health benefits for those who have taken part.The new three day format with an exciting programme of films and talks at our Gala Theatre can only build on this past success, and it’s really fitting that it falls in a year where we’re celebrating our cultural offer through #Durham 19.”   Edmond Simpson, 81, holds the V80 British mile record, which he set last year on the track at Monkton Stadium, where Steve Cram ran in his famous Jarrow vest in his heyday.  Edmond, who was born in Hartlepool but now lives in Basingstoke, will be returning to the North East to attend the Durham City Run Festival, and comments: “I was an impressionable youth in 1954 when Roger Bannister made history by running a mile in under four minutes and that magic distance has bewitched me ever since.  It was a thrill for me to set the British V80 record on the track that had been graced by Steve Cram and it’s brilliant to see that the mile will be a theme that’s at the heart of the Durham City Run Festival.  I’m really looking forward to the event – the Sir Roger Bannister celebration will be very special and I am relishing the opportunity to find out how fast I can run a mile a year after setting my record.”       Also planning to run a mile at the Durham City Run Festival will be 15-year-old Emily Chong, a rising star of the local athletics scene and a previous winner of the Durham City 5K.

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