Two former international athletes are on a mission to encourage more people from disadvantaged backgrounds to take up running.
Matt Wood and Ben Green, who have both run for England, are excited to launch The RunThrough Foundation. This new not-for-profit organisation will help more people get into the sport and experience the physical and mental health benefits of running.
The RunThrough Foundation is to launch in addition to their company, RunThrough Events, which is now the UK’s largest for mass participation events.
The foundation’s inaugural Warrington Running Festival is unique – it is the first totally free-to-enter UK running race. Offering a kids race, 5k, 10k and half marathon distances to 6,000 entrants via a ballot entry, the 2023 event is designed to break down the economic barriers to taking part in a mass-participation running event.
The Warrington Running Festival taking place on the 24 September 2023 will run on a closed-road course and will be chip-timed. The ballot is open now and taking entries at: www.runthrough.co.uk/event/warrington-running-festival-2023.
The first wave of the ballot was announced on the 31st of January, with 1,000 places already allocated to Warrington locals. The ballot for entries will remain open until July, through which the team expects a further 40,000 entries for the remaining 5,000 race places that will be allocated through waves in March, May and July.
The aim of the Foundation is to get thousands to participate, with entrants from deprived or low-income areas being given priority for places.
Foundation co-founder, Matt Wood says: “Running is one of the most accessible sports in the UK, but the cost of entering events can be a big barrier.
Although we have been planning the launch of the Foundation for some time, the rising costs of food, fuel and energy have made this even more prominent in recent months.
“By opening the doors of a mass participation running event to people who can’t normally afford entry fees, we aim to introduce more people to the running community and all the positive physical, mental and social benefits it brings.”
Warrington is the home town of the Foundation’s co-founder, Ben Green. Ben says: “As our company, RunThrough Events approaches its 10th anniversary in March 2023, we wanted to do something special. Launching the Foundation, making my home town race completely free to enter feels pretty special.”
Ben, Matt and the RunThrough Team hope to trigger the start of a new movement to widen the appeal of running to the nation. The intention is for the Foundation to launch other free-running events across the UK in the following years.
Ben adds: “We want to expand our free events into more cities and towns across the country – helping to spread the benefits of running nationwide.
The Warrington Running Festival will allow us to find out whether an event like this can work and we hope it will encourage more partners to support us to fund and run this and future events.
“We also want to work with partners to get into communities where low incomes are preventing people from taking up running and organise workshops and coaching to give people the confidence to lace up their running shoes and get out there.”
The RunThrough Foundation has partnered up with various charities including ‘Home Start Warrington’ a charity that helps parents and families through challenging times, and the Warrington-based St Rocco’s Hospice providing support and specialist care for those with a life-limiting diagnosis.
Through working with charities, the Foundation aims to reach out to those in need of physical and mental outreach, and aid fundraising efforts along the way.
The event is supported by ‘Lets Do This’ the UK’s largest mass participation booking site, along with Watsons Solicitors in Warrington, both contributing to getting the event over the start line and completely free for all participants.