Writtle University College hosts UK Athletics' first 'open' post-lockdown race

August 2020

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A sporting event of national importance will take place in Essex on Sunday 9th August. Miles of Miles is the first 'open' running race to be licenced by UK Athletics since the start of lockdown. Described as 'Pilot Event 1', it hopes to become a template for safe, socially distanced sporting events.

This year's annual race has been organised by Chelmsford Athletics Club and Writtle University College (WUC). The course will make use of WUC's large, countryside estate and open green spaces.

Chelmsford AC's Steve Wilkin said: "Miles of Miles 2020 has received a huge amount of support ever since the idea was hatched in June. The annual event is usually held at Chelmsford AC's home stadium, but with circumstances very different this year we made the decision to move it to an exciting new venue with the help of our good friends at Writtle University College. This year's race sold out within a week, with entrants coming from all four corners of the UK. Well over 300 athletes will represent 50 different clubs, with many competing for the first time this year. The incredible team at WUC have gone the extra mile (no pun intended) to provide us with the space and facilities to create a socially distanced event that prioritises our athletes' and officials' safety."

"Participants have been allocated staggered start times and will run in races of six maximum, as per government guidelines. The first of our 55 races is scheduled to start at 10am and will continue for six hours. It'll be a long day for the officials and volunteers but we have to put the health and safety of everyone attending front and centre but at the same time make it as fun and enjoyable as we can."

The course is classified as 'multi terrain', consisting mostly of grass. As the pandemic has stopped runners from walking the route in advance of the race, organisers have taken a new approach and created a short video to let participants virtually 'explore' WUC's campus. On the day of the race, runners will be directed by signs, while Marshals enforce safety procedures.

Dr Greg Deacon, Head of School (Animal and Human Sciences) at WUC said: "We’re very pleased to be hosting Miles of Miles at Writtle University College as I was very keen to get involved as soon as I heard about the proposal. It really is exciting to think that Writtle is playing a part in bringing competition back to athletes. We're lucky to have an extensive green campus that allows us to hold socially distanced events and our staff have enjoyed offering their support. I am sure it will be an amazing success and shows how committed we are to helping the community."

Writtle University College offers a range of Sport courses at College and University level. For more information, click here: https://writtle.ac.uk/sport