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man and woman in running gear standing on a grassy hilltop overlooking London landscape

Running mayor ‘ultra’ keen on new event

A new ultra marathon is coming to the borough, sweeping through parkland, open spaces and along canal paths this spring – and aims to ‘surprise’ locals by taking them places they might not have been before.

The Queen of the Suburbs Ultra is 50 kilometres long, but there will also be a 25k trail route to enter instead, and the organisers want as many people to join in as possible – whether they want to run the route, or walk it. It’s all about getting involved.

It will all take place on Saturday, 23 March – and you can sign up online. The route has yet to be fully revealed (stay tuned) but will feature a central point at Horsenden Hill.

The people behind the event are EHM Legacy, the founders and community arm of the award-winning Ealing Half Marathon. And the seed of the idea for the new ultra came during the COVID pandemic.

‘It should be for everyone’

The EHM Legacy team put together a Queen of the Suburbs challenge to encourage local people to run at various times in 13 parks across the borough and, perhaps, take in an open space they had not enjoyed before.

“We could see we were on to something,” said Tom Kerry, chair of EHM Legacy.. “And we wondered if we could create a challenge that brought all of these great parks and green spaces together, and off tarmac and away from roads as much as possible. Something that showcases the whole borough and brings together the community.

“With the opening of the Elizabeth line, access to the borough became even easier, and it seemed to be the perfect time.

“Ultra marathons don’t tend to happen in city centres and we have a perfect blend of city and country here. The borough lends itself to getting around on foot.”

‘Less of a race, more an amble’

Rachel Job, director of EHM Legacy, said: “We aim to surprise even the most intrepid local that we’ll take them down a path or trail they didn’t know about. Walking and a mixture of running and walking is also encouraged too. It’s less of a race, and more an amble right around the borough.”

Tom agreed and added: “A long distance can seem daunting but it’s important to us that it should be for everyone. Most people do a combination of running and walking for an ultra, and we want people to feel happy about taking their time. Some will want to run, lots will walk/run, but we also want people to just enjoy the outdoors.

“We will also have a 25k trail for those not wanting to go the whole 50k.

“Ealing is a nice place to be, run and walk in a safe way and, if you get to know an area and its routes, you’ll find you can get places quicker on foot.”

‘A fantastic idea’

Councillor Polly Knewstub, Ealing Council’s cabinet member for thriving communities, said: “The Ealing Half Marathon is a well established fixture in the local calendar and it is great to see more ways to encourage participation in outdoor exercise. Whether walking, jogging, running, or a combination of all 3, it is so good for our physical and mental health. We have so many lovely green, open spaces in our borough and it’s a fantastic idea to connect the dots and showcase what we have on our doorstep while getting people active and socialising in the fresh air.”

‘All on your doorstep’

Tom is also the ‘running mayor’ for the borough – acting as an advocate for its benefits, both in terms of personal health and social interaction. He agreed with Councillor Knewstub.

“We live in a lovely part of London,” he said. “It’s all on your doorstep; and getting out there and exploring the area on foot should be for everyone. It’s good for better health, for your mental health. And there is always a great community spirit at these events, too. That’s what it is all about.

“I’ve lived in the borough my whole life, so have run lots of it before, but not in one go, so we had to devise a route for the ultra and then test it for ourselves and see how long it would take for people, regardless of how they got around it, just to make sure it was feasible.

“The actual time it takes isn’t important, though. It’s all about spending time with other people, and the sense of achievement of completing the distance at the end.”

Volunteers

Not sure you want to run, but want to get involved? Volunteers are also needed for the event – find out more.

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