Cumbria County Council has thrown its backing behind a major sporting event planned for Keswick next year.
The first ever Commonwealth ultra distance and mountain running championship is planned for September 2009 and could see fell running return to its natural home (the world’s first ever organised fell race took place in Grasmere in 1850).
The county council’s cabinet agreed yesterday (June 10) for the council to become the accountable body for the Commonwealth Championship event and to contribute £5,000 towards the cost of the event. Cabinet heard yesterday that over two-thirds (£138,000) of the £200,000 needed to stage the event has already been raised, with the most significant backing (£100,000) pledged by the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) and most of the rest coming from national sport governing bodies.
The Commonwealth ultra distance and mountain running championship already has the backing of all 15 Commonwealth countries. Ultra distance running has seen a surge in popularity in recent years and involves running distances longer than a marathon, commonly 100km or 24-hour races. The four-day event would also feature a variety of amateur and fun running events and cultural activities.
Cllr Tony Markley, cabinet member responsible for economic development and regeneration, said:
“This event would be a win-win for Cumbria – it would attract visitors and tourists to the area out of season and it would also make Cumbria healthier by encouraging people to take part in the community sports events which will be associated with the Commonwealth Championship.”
Peter Mearns, executive director of marketing at the NWDA, added:
“Cumbria has a growing reputation for adventure activities and extreme sports and this challenging event will add another dimension to that offer. The NWDA is pleased to support this inaugural championship, which will help showcase Cumbria and the Northwest to a wider audience.”
Notes for editors
Commonwealth Championship events take place outside of the full Commonwealth Games but are controlled by the Commonwealth Games Federation. They are increasing in popularity and profile – with competitions in fencing, karate, rowing and table tennis held in the past.
While agreeing that the county council should be the accountable body, Cabinet opted that the council should not agree to underwrite the event as it would be an unacceptable potential burden on taxpayers’ money and it is not the council’s policy to underwrite such events.
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Posted by Stuart Barrington