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Tuesday, 02 September 2014

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Cumbria Sport Relief fundraisers go the extra mile

BATMAN, his sidekick Robin and a group of morris dancers were among those in Cumbria who took part in a Sport Relief 2014 challenge.

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More than 150 people sprinted, walked and danced their way around Barrow Park on Sunday to raise money for the charity, which supports poor children and communities across the world.

Enthusiastic runners, many of whom were dressed in colourful fancy dress costumes, were roared on by dozens of spectators and dog-walkers.

Fundraisers completed one-mile, three-mile and six-mile courses on the day, and were greeted by the mayor of Barrow, Colin Thomson, at the finish line who presented each competitor with their very own medal.

Ian Jones, event organiser and health and fitness officer at Park Leisure Centre, was amazed by the turnout and hailed the Sport Relief event as a huge success.

He said: “It was really, really great to see so many people take part. We were lucky the sun came out.

“There were a few runners that came in fancy dress and it was well supported by crowds along the whole course.

“What was brilliant was seeing people of all ages take part – our youngest competitor was just three weeks old!”

Thirteen-year-old Bailey Harding, who has optic nerve hypoplasia, a rare condition that has left him partially sighted and suffering growth problems, was given the honour of starting the Barrow race.

Speaking just after crossing the finish line for the one-mile run, the Walney resident said: “I feel really chuffed that I helped set it off and also that everybody is helping more people get out off poverty.

“The money raised will help a lot of poor people and it’s good to get a bit of exercise.”

The race was led at the front by marshals Jeff McCully, 47, and Robin Gerrard, 41, who were dressed as Batman and Robin respectively.

The superheroes proved to be popular amongst the crowd, with huge cheers following their every stride.

Mr Gerrard said: “There was a great atmosphere and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.

“Our job was to go out at the front and make sure everyone got round safely.”

Competitors raised cash for Sport Relief by recruiting as many sponsors as they could, with the money going towards funding education and shelter projects both in the UK and abroad.

Race director, Vanessa Hill, 32, said she hoped the runs in Barrow had raised hundreds of pounds for the cause.

She said: “We had around 150 runners across all three races so hopefully we have raised lots of money – that is what its all about.”

Venues across the country took part in the Sport Relief Mile challenge, and Walney Wind Cheetahs provided much of the marshaling for the Barrow event.

Barrow also hosted a number of football challenges for children during the day at the Pulse Soccer Centre.

The three races saw scores of families jogging together and competitors of all ages.

But the most inventive way of completing the mile lap went to Furness Morris, who jigged their way to the finish line.

Sue O’Connor, squire of Furness Morris, said the group was inspired to do something different for this year’s Sport Relief appeal.

She said: “It was my idea to raise money for Sport Relief and raise the profile of morris dancing in the area to show people how fun it is.

“There were lots of people clapping us especially the kids in the playground – they came across and loved it.”

A special sequence of steps was choreographed for the event to keep the folk dancers moving forwards instead of on the spot.

The group say they have raised around £400 for the charity.

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