For more information on the Simplyhealth Great East Run, visit greatrun.org/east

THE STAGE is set for Suffolk’s biggest day of running as the Simplyhealth Great East Run takes place this weekend.

Around 4,000 runners will take part in the half marathon, starting and finishing in Ipswich town centre on Sunday morning – with organisers revealing that this year will be the biggest and best yet.

Places were once again in high demand for the third staging of the half marathon and there will be a sold-out field taking their place on the start line on Russell Road on Sunday morning.

Runners will take on a scenic tour of the Suffolk countryside before returning back into Ipswich town centre, heading towards the waterfront and out towards Freston, passing under the Orwell Bridge, with the finish line alongside Ipswich Town FC’s Portman Road stadium.

Ipswich Town FC manager Paul Lambert will be honorary starter of the event, alongside Councillor James Reeder – Suffolk County Council Cabinet Lead Public Health & Prevention, Councillor Jan Parry - Mayor of Ipswich, and Councillor Graham Newman – Suffolk County Council Deputy Chairman.

The event is staged in partnership with Suffolk County Council, Ipswich Borough Council and Ipswich Jaffa Running Club.

A total of 31 runners will be attempting their first ever half marathon as part of the Simplyhealth Great East Run Outreach Programme.

The transformative initiative is part of Suffolk County Council’s quest to become the most active county in England and has been successfully carried out at previous events in 2017 and 2018.

To be eligible for a place on the programme participants must have been classed as inactive, doing less than 30 minutes of moderate or vigorous activity per week.

The 16-week programme has seen the participants receive an extensive programme of support which has included, advice and guidance by Double Olympic long-distance runner Paul Evans, expert weekly coaching sessions, fast track physiotherapy support, gait analysis and exclusive discounts on running gear, specialist diet and nutrition advice along with entry into the Ipswich Twilight 10k and Simplyhealth Great East Run.    

Great Britain Olympian Andy Vernon joined members of the Outreach programme today (Friday) to pass on some last-minute advice to runners ahead of the Simplyhealth Great East Run.

The distance runner, who represented Team GB at the Rio Olympics in 2016, helped launch Simplyhealth Great East Run and was the event’s very first elite athlete ambassador in 2017.

He went on to visit Cliff Lane Primary School in Ipswich where he took part in a Daily Mile event and answered questions from schoolchildren on his career to date.

He said: “It’s great to be back in Suffolk to show my support for the runners taking on their first half marathon as part of the Simplyhealth Great East Run Outreach programme.

“This is an area really passionate about running and all forms of activity, from young to old, and it’s pleasing to see that the event has grown over the last three years to the point where it is the biggest one yet. I wish all the runners the best in their challenge.”

Alison Beech, chair of Ipswich Jaffa Running Club, said: “Ipswich Jaffa is delighted to again be part of the Simplyhealth Great East Run team and we look forward to supporting the event and all the participants on Sunday morning.

"There has been lots of hard work behind the scenes going into making this event a success and it will be fantastic to see that all come to fruition on the day.

“It’s wonderful to have such an important sporting opportunity in the town, giving all levels of runners a chance to see the town from a different perspective.”

Kate Thornton, Simplyhealth Chief Customer Officer said: “We’re delighted to be in Ipswich for The Simplyhealth Great East Run. Whether you’re training for your first event, working towards a PB, walking or jogging, Simplyhealth will be supporting runners every step of the way, encouraging them to enjoy happier, healthier lives by being more active.

“This year, we’re proud to have Diabetes UK as our official charity partner for the Series.  Our partnership enables us to continue our great work in supporting people with their health; encouraging as many people as possible to become more active to reduce the risks of developing conditions such as diabetes. Good luck to everyone taking part. We look forward to seeing you at the finish line to celebrate your amazing achievements.”

James Reeder Suffolk County Council Cabinet Lead for Public Health and Prevention said: “It's fantastic that the number of participants taking part in the Simplyhealth Great East Run continues to grow each year and has sold out for the third year running.

The ongoing development of free weekly running events across the county, such as Great Run Local and parkrun is almost certainly supporting the increase in participants each year and with more and more primary schools adopting The Daily Mile, this trend will hopefully continue for years to come and support Suffolk's ambition of becoming the most active county in England.” 

Councillor Sarah Barber, Ipswich Borough Council’s Town Centre portfolio-holder said: “We are really excited to see the town transform this weekend for the ever popular Great East Run. Not only is it a great way to raise money for charity and get people active but it’s also the perfect opportunity to showcase Ipswich, with the route highlighting some of the town’s treasures, such as the beautiful Holywells Park and vibrant waterfront.”

Paul Lambert, manager of Ipswich Town FC, said: “I’m delighted to have been asked to start the Great East Run.

“It’s a real privilege to be involved in what is clearly a great event in the community and I’d like to wish all the runners the very best for the day.”  

For more information on the Simplyhealth Great East Run, visit greatrun.org/east