The Great Run Club Challenge, in partnership with England Athletics, has returned for a third year.
Clubs from across the country are invited to compete for the top prize, a trip to the Great Ethiopian Run - Africa's biggest road race – which will take place in Addis Ababa in November, as well as the range of rewards on offer at individual events.
The Great Club Challenge takes place over six events; the Morrisons Great Manchester Run (10 May), the Morrisons Great North 10k (17 July), the Morrisons Great North Run (13 September), the Morrisons Great Yorkshire Run (27 September), the Morrisons Great Birmingham Run (18 October) and the Morrisons Great South Run (25 October).
Clubs affiliated with England Athletics, and fielding at least seven male and seven female registered athletes, automatically qualify. Last year 4,571 runners from 125 clubs took part.
However, a total of 9764 club athletes took part across the series in 2014, meaning many more clubs could be eligible to compete if they were able to field the right number of male and female athletes.
Each qualifying team is in with the chance to win a once in a lifetime adventure, to train and race in the country that has produced some of the world's most iconic distance running stars - Ethiopia.
The trip includes a stay at the famous Yaya Village, located outside the city of Addis Ababa, at an altitude of 2,700 Meters above sea level. The winning team will also enjoy a personal meeting with the world's greatest ever distance runner, Haile Gebrselassie, before taking part in the Great Ethiopian Run with 37,000 other runners.
Last year's winners were Stockport Harriers, runner Paul Nutter said of his experience, “Our hearts were touched by the friendliness of everyone we met, at the Great Ethiopian Run, shaking hands and high fives with the children as they ran alongside. The music had a hypnotic sound that you just had to dance to, first your feet would tap then your shoulders, and before long your whole body was moving in time with the rhythm.
“I loved the big beaming smiles of everyone in Addis Ababa, which is a bustling city of over 6 million people. If the event wasn't enough, we also mingled with some of the greatest athletes of our time. Julia Bleasdale, Kenenisa Bekele, Richard Nerurkar, Edna Kiplagat, Alistair Brownlee and the king himself Haile Gebrselassie!”
Dave Newton, managing director of Great Run Series organisers, Nova International said, “We're thrilled to offer clubs the opportunity to take part in the Great Ethiopian Run again this year.
“Athletics clubs are a really important aspect of encouraging more people to take up and enjoy the sport. The 2013 and 2014 winning clubs who experienced the event first hand will attest to what a fantastic country and race it is, unlike anything English runners are likely to have experienced before. We hope to see many more clubs entering the Challenge in 2015.”
Andy Day, England Athletics' Head of Competition, said: “The Great Run Club Challenge is a wonderful competition for our affiliated clubs to get involved in. There are good prizes on offer from each event but the trip to Ethiopia to meet Haile Gebreselassie and take part in the Great Ethiopian Run really is a once in a lifetime experience for any runner. We are very pleased to once again offer this opportunity to our clubs and their registered athletes.
“The format of seven male and seven female registered athletes has meant that we have seen a wide range of clubs coming to the fore so we always await the results with interest.”
The winning clubs at each Great Run event will be based on the average finishing times of the fastest seven male and seven female runners. The winning club at each event will be placed into a draw for the Ethiopian trip.
The Great Club Challenge in partnership with England Athletics will also award winning clubs at each event £500 and 15 free entries to their respective 2016 Great Run, as well as ten and five free entries to the second and third placed clubs. All qualifying clubs are also eligible for spot prizes, which will be awarded across the competition.