A CITY running event is extending into a three-day festival featuring some of athletic’s best known names.

The Durham City Run Festival will take place in July and will feature the Prince Bishops 10k and 5k races, as well as new running challenges, films, talks and a new family event being launched by Paula Radcliffe.

The Northern Echo:

Durham Mums on the Run at the launch of the Durham City Run Festival

North-East athletics legend Steve Cram, who founded the Durham City Run, said: “It’s ambitious for us, it’s the first time we’ve done something like this but running is a massive part of millions of people’s lives.

“Running is something that’s cheap and accessible to everyone. It doesn’t matter whether people are out to run fast or just to enjoy it – that’s the joy of the sport.”

He added: “We find people have a thirst for knowledge around training and nutrition and equipment and people enjoy the social aspect, which is what the rest of the festival is about.”

The Northern Echo:

(l-r) Emily Chong, 15, from Chester-le-Street, event founder Steve Cram and 81-year-old Edmond Simpson

The festival, which is being backed by Durham County Council, runs from July 25-27.

It will include an evening to celebrate Sir Roger Bannister, to mark the 65th anniversary of his sub-four minute mile, and a discussion with Cram, the British and former world record holder for the mile, marathon world record holder Radcliffe and Charlotte Bannister, the runner’s daughter.

Running events include a family 10k, a relay-style event, which is being launched in Durham by Radcliffe, who then hopes to take the concept nationwide, and a chance for runners to try and set their best one-mile time.

Among those taking part in the “run like a legend mile” will be 81-year-old Edmond Simpson, who last year set the British record for the fastest mile in the over-eighties category, by running it in seven minutes, 25 seconds, and 15-year-old Emily Chong, a rising star from Chester-le-Street – who will be 65 years apart in age on race day.

Mr Simpson, who lives in Basingstoke but is originally from Hartlepool, said; “I ran at school but dropped it when I went to university. I didn’t really start again until I was nearly 60 and it became an addiction.

“It’s the competition - there’s usually someone you can beat, whether it’s in the club or a race or a park run.”

Emily, a pupil at the Hermitage Academy and member of Chester-le-Street Athletics Club, said: “I love the freedom of running. It’s you against yourself. I love trying to get better and always having somewhere to go.”

Other events include a breakfast run, a “plogging” event with Sedgefield Plodgers, incorporating jogging with picking up litter and a buggy run with Durham Mums on the Run.

Mum Emma Featherstone, who has been running for 11 years and now goes on buggy runs with two-year-old Alfie and six-month-old Evelyn, said: “It’s an amazing group. It’s really encouraging, whether you’ve never run before or you’re a runner who has had kids.”

Councillor Ossie Johnson, the council’s cabinet member for tourism, culture, leisure and rural affairs, said: “We’re delighted to be supporting the inaugural Durham City Run Festival in this, our year of culture.

“Previous years’ Durham City runs have been successful in terms of the economic boost which result from so many people coming into our county, as well as the obvious health benefits for those who have taken part.”