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Thousands compete in marathon organised by Wincham man
THOUSANDS of youngsters competed in the world’s largest children’s running race last week, an event created by the founder of a Wincham-based company.
George Bunner MBE is the founder of Sportshall Athletics, who are based in Wincham with suppliers Eveque, and the World Marathon Challenge stemmed from a race he engineered six years ago.
This year 759 teams of 30 children, who ran legs of 200m at a time, competed from as far and wide as Mexico, Afghanistan and Fiji in an attempt to beat Wilson Kipsang’s marathon world record.
“I’m delighted it’s getting children together from around the world,” said George. “I was approached by orphanages in Kat Man Du and Kenya and they said it brings aspiration and hope.
“They don’t even have fields to play football, but they had roads the children can run up and down and feel part of the family.
“We don’t have to raise money, it’s nice if we do but it’s about the children involved being part of something.
“A lot teams raise a lot of money and it’s great, but the important thing is kids working together around the world.”
The event is now backed by Save the Children with Eveque an official partner and in charge of inputting the incoming data from teams around the world.
It has grown remarkably since George first arranged for a team from Helsby High School to race against those in Madrid.
“I told the children to try and run faster than Paula Ratcliffe’s marathon time to raise money for flights to Spain,” he explained.
“They raised all that and more.
“Then there were teams from Valencia, London, Canada, even a team of Inuits from the Arctic Circle.
“I was delighted with this. Save the Children heard what we were doing and came onboard, I just wanted children to work together and by last year we had 600 teams of 12 and 13 year olds.
“We even had two mixed teams of teenage boys and girls in Afghanistan, that’s unheard of.
“I was on holiday and bumped into a woman from Russia, the next thing we knew we had a team from St Petersburg – it’s amazing how things travel by word of mouth.”
However, George does not wish to take credit for the success of the event, instead choosing to celebrate the enthusiasm of those taking part.
“The one thing I have had in Cheshire over the last 30 years is help,” he added. “People like Halton and Frodsham Harriers, Crewe and West Cheshire.
“It shows if you can utilise people with enthusiasm the things you can do are unbelievable, the help I’ve received has been phenomenal.”
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