EALING FEELING FINE AS RUNNING REVIVAL BY EALING HALF MARATHON CIC
RAISES COMMUNITY SPIRIT
The numbers are stacking up for Kelvin Walker so the former accountant turned race organiser and athletics coach is delighted.
Kelvin no longer counts cash for companies but he is happy to add up the benefits to a West London community since putting away his briefcase for the last time.
In 2012, with the capital and the country still basking in the glow of ‘best ever’ Olympic and Paralympic Games, 4,500 runners signed up for the first ever Ealing Half Marathon.
Four years on the Ealing Half boasts gold medals of its own – voted the UK’s Best Half Marathon at the 2014 and 2015
Running Awards, and in the top 12 shortlist again for 2016.
The highlight of Ealing’s varied and busy 2016 running calendar takes place on September 25.
The fifth anniversary race is expected to attract 8,000 competitors of all ages, abilities and gender. Indeed, ‘Inclusive’ is a word that could have been invented for the Ealing Half Marathon and subsequent 12 months of accompanying activities.
Make no mistake when the final runner has crossed the line and the finish banner taken down, Race Director Kelvin and his team don’t melt away into the background until 2017.
“We are keen not to be an event that just turns up once a year, takes the money and then disappears,” confirms Kelvin, one of only two full-time employees of the EHM Community Interest Company. Any surplus is subsequently ploughed back into local community projects.
“We are active throughout the year and that is a fundamental part of what we do. There aren’t many CIC races and it is another aspect of our uniqueness.
“Have there been tangible benefits since we started? You only have to look on the streets of Ealing to see people running on a regular basis,” says proud Kelvin. “Running and fitness clubs have got more popular in Ealing.
“We have done presentations to over 3,000 pupils so far in local schools to talk about the benefits of running and I’ve helped with an after-school running club at Montpelier School as well as coaching juniors at Queens Park Harriers.
“I was one of the founding Run Directors at Gunnersbury parkrun in South Ealing which now sees 400 runners take part each Saturday, and I am the Event Director at Pitshanger junior parkrun which attracts up to 100 children every Sunday morning.
“Twice a year (in conjunction with the National Trust) there is a 10K in Osterley Park in June and December and we also hold a monthly mile series in Lammas Park.
“We are still learning and still growing steadily. It has probably taken longer than we expected to get to a sustainable level. But we are not too far away now from where we want to be.
“The main thing is we have engaged with the community. We’d expect to see 20-25,000 spectators supporting the race and that’s in addition to our 700 volunteers and hopefully those 8,000 runners.”
Ealing’s success has been vindication of Kelvin’s decision to walk away from his secure job into an unknown future.
“I did some running (with the Ealing Eagles) and completed the London Marathon so I thought ‘why can’t we close roads and put on races in Ealing’?
“I had been involved in adult community work and wondered with the London Olympics taking place the following year, could I get an event going?
“I was getting into my late 30’s with a young one at home and decided it was time for a career change.
“So, I gave up my job, remortgaged my house and spent a year and a half planning our first ever Ealing Half Marathon.”
Sandra Courtney is the Events Director for the Ealing Half Marathon, and the second Director of the Community Interest Company.
“My hobby became my job.” says Sandra.
“My career did not fully satisfy me prior to starting work with Kelvin on the Ealing Half Marathon.
“Now there is a real purpose to my working life and I feel like we are really making a difference in the community and beyond by promoting the benefits of running, health and fitness to people of all ages, levels and backgrounds.
“I really enjoy what we are creating together and the difference that we are making, and we have lots of further exciting plans for the future.”
With all the projects that Kelvin and Sandra are working on it comes as no surprise that the team is set to grow further this year.
In 2012, Jonathan Stead won the overall race in 69 minutes 51 seconds and was the only competitor to achieve a sub 70 minutes time. Gabriel Carnwath claimed the women’s title in 1:23:39.
Twelve months later Kenyan Matthew Kiprotich lowered the course record to its current mark of 64 mins 33 seconds, whilst Gladys Ruto posted a women’s course PB of 75:27 and triple World Track and Cross Country champion, Sonia O’Sullivan rolled back the years and completed the race in 1:27:28.
Actress and comedienne Tracey Ullman gave the race celebrity status in 2014, with Ben Siwa and Gladys Yator claimed the winning titles.
In 2015 Christopher Cheruiyot clocked a winning time of 65:40 and Teresiah Omosa took the women’s title in 1:16:32.
“We want people of all abilities to run,” says Kelvin. “Probably half the field are completing a half marathon for the first time.
“We do have people from all over the country and more than 100 from outside the UK.”
In four years, the Ealing Half Marathon has helped raise over £850,000 for charity. And with a new structure for 2016 with Alzheimer’s Society, Cancer Research UK and CLIC Sargent announced as official charity partners, that figure could break £1 million.
The 5th Ealing Half Marathon takes place on Sunday 25th September 2016 and is well known for its huge community support and great atmosphere with runners travelling from all over the UK and abroad to experience the #EalingFeeling .
The race starts and finishes in Lammas Park and features a 13.1 mile route on closed roads around the leafy streets and parks of the West London Borough.
A total of 8,000 places are available for 2016 and entries cost £36 for affiliated runners and £38 for unaffiliated runners.
Go to www.ealinghalfmarathon.com for further race details and to sign up now, like the Facebook page www.facebook.com/ealinghalf and follow @EalingHalf on Twitter to keep up to date with all the latest news about the Ealing Half Marathon.