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By RunSome | 22 March 2021 | TAGS: running, Active Travel

- New network of Running Mayors appointed to champion running as an antidote to some of our most pressing challenges -

A new network of Running Mayors from all across the UK -- and beyond -- are announced today having been appointed by Runner’s World and the RunSome campaign.

This includes Rowan Ardill from Ramsbottom who has been appointed the Running Mayor of Greater Manchester. Rowan is also the founder and Chair of Ramsbottom Running Club and works for global running charity parkrun as Health & Wellbeing Projects Manager.

Tasked with advocating for running as an antidote to some of 2021’s toughest challenges -- like taking practical steps to improve their community’s mental health and reduce air pollution -- the new Running Mayors provide a face and a voice to champion running in the place they know and care about, the city or town where they live.

Rowan said “I feel really honoured and privileged to be appointed the first ever Running Mayor for Greater Manchester, this is an incredibly exciting role and exactly what is needed to inspire positive change at scale. I take immense joy from connecting people, building communities and empowering individuals and groups to enjoy the simple act of running. Running is my absolute passion both personally and professionally and I can't think of a higher honour than being given the opportunity to pass on this passion to millions of others in the Greater Manchester city region.

The world’s first Running Mayors will promote running as a form of active travel, positioning it as a viable alternative to jumping in the car for short errands and local trips, as well as running for leisure and sport.

The Running Mayors Network is an initiative of the RunSome campaign. Led by Runners World, Active Things and a coalition of leading running brands and organisations, RunSome is urging the government to include running in its £2bn active travel funding alongside walking and cycling. With a quarter of a million people in the UK already running everyday journeys, RunSome wants to double that number within the next 12 months, whilst delivering a timely boost to mental and physical health.

The first ever cohort of the Running Mayors Network includes the actual mayor of St Neot’s, Cambridgeshire, Stephen Ferguson, who is 20 stone and 6ft2, who is motivated to show that size is no barrier to running; Tasha Thompson, founder of Black Girls Do Run, who is the Running Mayor of Brent; and Sikh long-distance runner, Usingh Bolt, the Running Mayor of Walsall. The Running Mayor of High Wycombe, Tasneem Anwar is inspired to engage everyone in her local community, not least under-represented groups like Muslim women and BAME children, having only started running herself in 2020.

Whilst only calling for applicants for places in the UK, two international candidates were so strong the judges decided to appoint them too. That’s Ekaterina Preobrazhenskaya, who splits her time between Moscow and London, as the Running Mayor of Moscow and Frankie Ruiz, who becomes the Running Mayor of Miami. Frankie previously set up the Miami marathon and is leading -- with city officials -- the creation of a 6km linear park, adding ideal infrastructure for runners with tree covering and shade to protect runners and walkers from the sun.

Running is an efficient mode of urban transport - it’s cheap, it’s typically twice as fast as walking, often faster than driving in congested cities, has a low carbon footprint and aids our mental and physical health. With a quarter of UK journeys a mile or less (Sustrans) and over two thirds of car trips in UK cities under 3 miles (INRIX) there is much potential. Cities worldwide are adapting streets for people to enable more journeys on foot and bikes. If the UK’s 11 million runners ran just one or two everyday journeys a week rather than drive, it would be significant, enabling us to navigate our cities more healthily and sustainably.

As individuals and as a network the Running Mayors will make the case to city leaders and mayors for why runners -- too often invisible in discussions about how we live and move -- need to feature in their planning and design of places and services, not least in terms of active travel.

The Running Mayors will also work with other local stakeholders to champion a range of topics that they care deeply about - for many that also includes improving safety and security for women when running, walking and cycling -- be that through better lighting, upgrading routes and pavements or buddying up scheme.

High profile campaign supporters include five-time Olympian Jo Pavey and Scotland’s Cycling and Walking Commissioner Lee Craigie.

Five time Olympian Jo Pavey: “I’m thrilled to be involved in the RunSome campaign and to support Running Mayors. Encouraging people to make some everyday trips in an active way is great for both health and wellbeing and the environment. During these difficult times for everyone, it is also even more important to promote the massive benefit that running can have on our mental health.”

Scotland’s Active Nation Commissioner Lee Craigie, who was one of the judges: “The more I see of the Running Mayors Network the more excited I get. As a campaign #RunSome reminds us that by adopting the daily pleasure of running (even a wee bit!) into the ways we choose to get about (even sometimes) we'll discover untold benefits to our mental and physical health, our environment, our pocket and to the living conditions of other people who share our community. It's a win-win-win-win."

Runner’s World UK, Editor-in-Chief, Andy Dixon and one of the judges: “Runner’s World is proud to be part of the RunSome campaign and to get behind the world’s first Running Mayors. We’re passionate believers in the power of running to transform lives and by the seemingly simple act of running some short everyday trips more, we can make ourselves happier and healthier, benefit our towns and cities by reducing car use, and help the environment – everybody wins.”

Scott Cain, CEO of Active Things and co-founder of the RunSome campaign, comments, "To run is part of who we are. We just designed it out of our daily lives, and now – with COVID-19 and all the changes in how we live and move – it’s time to design it back in again. Just think: if the 11m people who already run in the UK swapped the car for even just one or two short trips a week, we can make a big difference."

The Running Mayors can be found on the RunSome website and prominent campaign supporters can also be found here.

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