Outdoor City set to inspire the next Olympians with new running routes

IT is the city that spawned Olympians Ernie '˜Evergreen' Harper, Jessica Ennis-Hill and Sebastian Coe, and now it hopes to inspire the next generation of runners by creating one of the largest networks of running routes in the country.

Helen Elmore and her daughter Mia try out one of the routes through Ecclesall Woods. Picture Scott Merrylees
Helen Elmore and her daughter Mia try out one of the routes through Ecclesall Woods. Picture Scott Merrylees

By next month, 11 routes, ranging from 1km to 10km, will have been completed across the city and into the Peak District in parks, woods and open spaces.

These 27km of dedicated running space will be the first phase of a scheme, funded to the tune of more than £100,000 from England Athletics, that will build to more than 20 running routes by March 2017.

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It is the first initiative of The Outdoor City, which hopes to secure Sheffield’s reputation for outdoor pursuits, and will see Sheffield Council, running clubs and volunteers working together to encourage more people to get running.

Sheffield's Jessica Ennis-Hill celebrating after victory in the Heptathlon at the Olympic Stadium, London, in 2011. Picture: David Davies/PA Wire

Sheffield already has an impressive pedigree when it comes to producing the country’s finest athletes.

Harper competed in three Olympic games, including at Berlin in 1936 when he won silver in the marathon. His training regime would involved running in the hills of Sheffield - after he’d finished a shift at a clog-making company.

Coe and Ennis-Hill aren’t the city’s only other Olympic medal winners either. Way back in 1908 former Hallamshire Harrier Harold Wilson won silver in the 1,500 metres.

As part of The Outdoor City Run Routes project England Athletics will be training new run leaders who will set up new groups to think about different ways the routes can be used to encourage people to “find their own pace” - whether it’s with children, pushing a pram, or walking or running.

Sheffield has secured £100,000 from England Athletics to install new running routes in the City. Picture Scott Merrylees

It will also form part of the council’s Move More physical activity strategy that aims to transform Sheffield into the most active city in the UK by 2020, and see new smartphone monitoring technology developed by the The National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine will be piloted on the routes.

All of the routes will start from Sheffield’s parks or woodlands and vary in distance, gradient and difficulty, and have been tested by runners in the local communities.

Deputy Leader of Sheffield Council, Coun Leigh Bramall, said: “Having these run routes, innovating through advances in technology, connecting to the city’s physical activity strategy and securing the ongoing support of England Athletics to help people ‘find their pace’ in Sheffield, are all big wins. And knowing that this is just the very start of The Outdoor City story – now that’s exciting.”

Chief executive of England Athletics Chris Jones said: “This is the largest of the run routes projects England Athletics has undertaken in England. We’ve supported a number of significant schemes, including the Greenline Urban running routes in Bradford, but are delighted to be able to support a project on the scale of this one in Sheffield.

Stu Hale trys out one of the routes through Ecclesall Woods. Picture Scott Merrylees

“The first eleven run routes have been carefully selected to appeal to all people; not just people who already run.

“Essentially we want everyone to have access to well signposted, well designed running trails that they can use to run, walk and that are accessible to all.”

Where to run in Sheffield

Each of the routes will have newly marked trails, and can be combined with extra support and information on the Outdoor City website.

Sheffield's Jessica Ennis-Hill celebrating after victory in the Heptathlon at the Olympic Stadium, London, in 2011. Picture: David Davies/PA Wire

The first eleven run routes will be marked in the following seven Sheffield locations:

Lowfields Park and General Cemetery

Ponderosa, Weston Park, Crooks Valley Park

Bradfield Dam

Concorde Park and Wooley Woods

Manor Fields

Sheffield has secured £100,000 from England Athletics to install new running routes in the City. Picture Scott Merrylees

Graves Park

Millhouses Park and Ecclesall Woods

For more information on running in Sheffield visit www.theoutdoorcity.co.uk

Stu Hale trys out one of the routes through Ecclesall Woods. Picture Scott Merrylees