Over 100 recreational runners turned up to welcome England Athletics CEO Chris Jones when he came to visit Greater Peterborough Athletics Network’s ‘Try the Track' and 'Get fit for the Eastern’ session.
GPAN is a strong collaboration of eight member clubs in the Peterborough area, both road and track based, and the ‘Try the track’ sessions are open to members of all clubs, as well as independent runners, and aim to show the benefits of including track sessions in your training. On the evening of Chris’ visit, at least two thirds of those present opted for track training - as part of the 'Get fit for the Eastern' session ran in partnership with Peterborough City Council, with the rest preferring to hit the road.
The CEO was also able to witness first hand the popularity of GPAN’s ‘Fit for the Eastern’ scheme, which aims to help all runners get into the best possible shape for the Perkins Great Eastern Run, but with benefits also extending far beyond that one race, and proving to those taking part that they can meet their personal targets for any event.
But such innovative schemes would not be possible without considerable support not only from all the local clubs, who work hard to make the Partnership so successful, but also because of the support offered by a number of local businesses and organisations.
In Peterborough, Advance Performance, the local independently owned running shop hosts events, provides sponsorship and invites brands to events for runners to try, and Peterborough City Council, with their ongoing organisation of the Perkins Great Eastern Run (9th October 2016) are massive supporters of running (and the healthy lifestyle it brings) in the city, supporting initiatives such as early morning or lunch time running groups and working with diverse groups such as deaf runners or minority groups in the city.
Pictured right: Chris speaking with Ros Hamlyn who is on the GPAN committee and a coach from Werrington Joggers.
During his visit CEO Chris Jones noted the importance of all these contributors, as well as the Partnership itself, and afterwards commented: “It is always a pleasure being able to meet with local partners who make our sport happen. The foresight of local clubs, the city council, sponsors and other partners was clearly evident on the evening and this collaborative approach to making running happen for people of all abilities and aspirations in the Peterborough area is clearly the way forward."
He continued, "The importance of local partners networking and sharing resources to develop our sport cannot be underestimated and once again the vital ingredient of volunteering to help others is fundamental in the success of this project. It is heartening to see first hand how clubs in the Greater Peterborough area have carried forward the notion of networking which was at the forefront of thinking when Athletics and running club networks were at concept stage as far back as 2008. As a man who grew up in the Peterborough area the visit had an extra special meaning for me and i left with a feeling of great pride."
Also present on the evening was GPAN Chair Tim Cook who thanked Chris for his visit, and also acknowledged the importance of local support for the success of such sessions as ‘Try the Track’ "The big thing for us though is that these are recreational runners who would otherwise be scared off ever running on an athletics track but have found that they can, it’s different and it helps them improve to reach whatever personal target they have set for themselves, from parkrun to Peterborough half Marathon. Tonight was very much a typical evening with the mix of people attending and it shows that in Peterborough at least, running is flourishing!"
Other key speakers at the event included Mike Tomlinson, from the Jane Tomlinson Appeal for children’s and cancer charities who are one of the charity partners with Great Eastern Run this year, Anna’s Hope, a charity supporting children with brain tumours and another of the main charity partners. Lastly, CEO Chris Jones spoke about England Athletics, what it does and what its purpose is and thanked the many volunteers in the Peterborough network for their hard work and foresight in making running happen across the Greater Peterborough area.