Articles

Welcoming the Running Mayor of Leeds

Rachel Atherton

There are so many reasons to run – some personal like stress relief, some universal like reducing car dependency, some obvious like boosting fitness, and some out of this world, like chasing a world record. But no matter the reason, lacing up to run isn’t always easy. What can help is making running a part of daily activities, supported by our community and workplaces. 

The #RunSome campaign was created by Active Things and Runners World. It has now become a coalition of running enthusiasts, brands, clubs, tribes and organisations. The campaign aims to inspire more of us to run some everyday journeys, errands and commutes. For instance, running to the shops, to work, or to see friends. By opting to run instead of drive, even on a couple of trips each week, you will be supporting your community, the environment and yourself. And best of all, you’ll arrive happier and feel good. 

As part of the #RunSome campaign, and to help us all to #runsome everyday commutes, journeys and errands, a network of Running Mayors has been introduced. This network is an initiative to champion the role of running in our cities and places. The Running Mayors act as ambassadors for the RunSome campaign, providing a voice to champion running and increase the visibility of running as a form of healthy, active travel.

The newly appointed Running Mayor of Leeds, Gemma Bridge, took up post in March 2021. She is passionate about running, well connected across the city and wants to help Leeds become a fairer, cleaner, healthier and happier place to live, work and play. As Running Mayor, Gemma is working as a campaigner for change, she is looking to make running, and runners, more visible and better heard in Leeds. In her role, Gemma has three focus areas: 

1. Enable a wider diversity of voices to be heard

Everyone who would like to share their opinion about running should have the ability to do so. As Running Mayor, Gemma will work to ensure all voices can be heard by engaging on social media, hosting community engagement events, by reaching out to and talking with community groups, and by arranging regular discussions with existing running networks.

2.  Help runners to feel safe 

Safety when running is essential. Surveys and discussion events will be hosted to explore what factors affect feelings of safety when running. Additional activities to boost running safety will also be encouraged and facilitated, such as reducing litter, setting up running buddies and sharing well lit running routes.

3. Encourage workplaces to embed running in the workplace

Running should be considered as part of workplace active travel plans. It should also be encouraged by workplaces due to the beneficial effects on mental health, social cohesion, fitness, and productivity. As Running Mayor, Gemma will host forums to speak to businesses and their employees to explore the opportunities and challenges to running. She will also explore what interventions can be put in place to support running, such as the installation of showers and changing facilities, the development of lunchtime run clubs, and increasing connections between workplaces and running clubs.

As with any ambitious plan, making running easier for people in Leeds is not something that any single Running Mayor could achieve. So, in her role, Gemma is looking to build alliances and work with others to make things happen. As part of this work, Gemma is linking up with Discover Leeds, to highlight brilliant spaces to run and explore, and Run Leeds, to share running routes and connections with local running clubs.  

 

Discover Leeds

Discover Leeds launched just after the first national lockdown when there was a collective need to find and use local green spaces. With a large number of us working from home now, Discover Leeds aims to help find new places to explore nearby, and throughout Leeds. Working alongside Gemma the New Running Mayor of Leeds, and Run Leeds, provides the perfect opportunity to highlight and share the more unknown green spaces that runners can explore. 

The RunSome campaign gives us the chance to explore and discover green spaces in Leeds in a different way. A lot of these areas in Leeds link up to remove the need for so much road running, and can be included in a run commute route. 

Run Leeds

The running community in Leeds is going from strength to strength and we are excited to work alongside Gemma the new Running Mayor and Discover Leeds to help shape the running environment across Leeds further. There looks to be many exciting opportunities to come, so keep your eyes peeled on how to possibly get involved.

 

Useful links

Runsome Website – http://www.runsome.org/

Discover Leeds – https://discoverleeds.co.uk/

Run Leeds Routes – https://www.runleeds.co.uk/route

 

Photo by Tim Lumley

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