Student Launches City Centre Running Scheme to Get People Active

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A University of Worcester student has launched a city centre running scheme to help people get active.

Sam Payne came up with the idea and saw it through as part of his Sport Development and Coaching degree, managing to raise the £3,000 needed to get it off the ground.

Although a popular parkrun exists at the Countryside Centre, near Nunnery Wood, Sam has devised and launched the first parkrun for the City centre.

The 21-year-old, whose parkrun is believed to be the first to be led by a student, hopes to increase levels of fitness and improve people’s health by making exercise easily accessible.

“I would love to sit back in a few years and think Worcester is a more physically active place because of this,” said Sam, who has enlisted a group of volunteers to help him.

“I really hope that the citizens of Worcester get behind this and take ownership of it.”

Event Director Sam’s 5km parkrun, part of the series of popular weekend running events across the country run under the parkrun brand, is at Pitchcroft Park every Saturday starting at 9am.

Its recent launch earlier this month attracted 335 runners.

Sam, of Callington, Cornwall, came up with the initial idea during his second year, but was encouraged by his lecturer to pursue it further and it evolved into his third year dissertation project.

Sam, who is a keen endurance runner and regularly attends parkruns, said he understood how difficult it can be for someone who does not have that sporting background to get active.

He said: “I was looking at opportunities for different people to get involved in a more physically active lifestyle.

“One way is to provide regular free of charge physical activity somewhere that can be really easily accessed by people even without transport.”

But Sam needed to raise £3,000 set-up costs.

“The University was brilliant, not just in terms of helping with funds, but in terms of connecting me with local stakeholders,” said Sam, who has enlisted a group of volunteers to help him.

The student met interested parties, including Worcester City Council, which has not only allowed the event to take place on its land and agreed to provide toilets, changing and storage facilities, but even donated £500 towards the scheme.

Further funding came from Worcestershire and Herefordshire County Sports Partnership, the University and local running clubs.

Cllr Lynn Denham, city council member for Worcester Cathedral ward and Vice-Chair of the Communities Committee, said: “Sam should be very proud of his achievement and persistence in making this happen. This is a significant contribution to our health and wellbeing activity plan for Worcester and our aspirations for a healthy and active city.”

Starting near the Swan Theatre, participants can run or walk the distance around the edge of Worcester Racecourse.

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Runners picture: Picture by Simon Fall-Taylor of FTImages