Excitement for first-ever Great East Run reaches fever pitch across town
- Credit: Archant
Thousands of runners are gearing up for the landmark Simplyhealth Great East Run in Ipswich this weekend which could add millions of pounds to the local economy.
A sold-out field of 3,000 runners, some travelling from across the country, will pound the closed-road 13.1-mile half marathon course between Ipswich and the Shotley peninsula on Sunday.
Some will be competitive club runners, others will be raising money for charity. All will travel through the town centre, the waterfront, out towards Woolverstone and back under the Orwell Bridge before the Portman Road football stadium finish.
Colin Grogan, sport, health and inclusion development manager at Suffolk County Council, believes the event could grow to 10,000 runners within a decade.
He said: “We hope the event will grow every year and everybody gets behind it. There are people travelling from all over the country and plenty of opportunities for businesses.
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“Everybody sees what the Great North Run does. I’m not proposing we’ll reach the heady heights of 55,000 runners, but there was great demand for the Great East Run. It sold-out in four months and an extra 500 places went in just 12 hours.”
The event hopes to eventually rival the Great South Run, held in Portsmouth since 1990 when it had 3,000 runners. It now has 25,000, and gives the area a £3.3m boost.
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Catherine Johnson, chairman of the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce in Greater Ipswich, said: “The Great East Run is fast establishing itself as another key event in Ipswich. It has the potential to be an annual event that drives up the numbers of visitors staying in our hotels, shoppers boosting our retailers and more generally people spreading the word as to what a great place this town is.”
Alison Beech, chairman of Ipswich JAFFA Running Club, which is working with Great East Run organisers, said: “We worked hard over the years to establish a successful half marathon in the town and are delighted that the Great Run Company saw the potential to bring a prestigious new event to the area. We wish the runners well and hope they have an enjoyable and successful day.”
The race starts at 10am.
Bryony Rudkin, deputy leader at Ipswich Borough Council, said: “We are delighted this event is coming to Ipswich and wish the organisers every