A NEW concept that encourages families to exercise together will make its global debut in the North-East this summer.

The brainchild of marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe, Families on Track will give family groups the opportunity to work together to complete a set distance, in a secure setting and a format that allows everyone to contribute, no matter what their age or ability.

Sponsored by Atom Bank and launched by Radcliffe in Durham yesterday, the event will be held on Saturday 27 July, the final day of the three-day 2019 Durham City Run Festival.

Prestwich and Whitefield Guide: ON TRACK: Youngsters help Paula Radliffe launch Families on Track (from left) Frazer Ranns, 11, Harry Mason, 9, Sebastian Ranns, 10, Verity Ranns, 9, Emily Smith, 6, and Sam Mason, 12. Picture: SARAH CALDECOTTON TRACK: Youngsters help Paula Radliffe launch Families on Track (from left) Frazer Ranns, 11, Harry Mason, 9, Sebastian Ranns, 10, Verity Ranns, 9, Emily Smith, 6, and Sam Mason, 12. Picture: SARAH CALDECOTT

The festival is being organised in a partnership between Durham County Council and Events of the North.

Families on Track will be based at Durham University's site on the old racecourse on the banks of the River Wear.

Family members will be set the challenge of completing 10K in a continuous relay in laps of either 1,000m, 500m or 250m, on a safe, enclosed course.

Radcliffe said: “I have so many fond memories of trips up to race in Durham as a family. Sharing my passion for running with those I love the most is really important to me.

“That’s why I want to encourage everyone to get fit and active together, running as a family unit and enjoying the experience. My new concept embraces the importance of exercise, but in a fun ‘race’ format that includes everybody, no matter what age or ability.

“There’ll be a real festival atmosphere with music, entertainment and the perfect start to the summer holidays. I look forward to returning to the city where I raced as a youngster in July and bringing my own children with me to take part in my very first Families on Track event during the Durham City Run Festival.”

During Radcliffe’s event in Durham, each family must complete their 10K target in any combination of laps (e.g. 6 x 1,000m, 5 x 500m and 6 x 250m = 10K).

Each leg is completed by an individual who then hands over to another family member for the next leg. Families can run in any order and run legs of any distance, as long as they complete 10K. A family group can be three, four or five people, of which at least one must be under 16 and at least one over 18, with every participant completing at least one lap.

Durham City Run Festival will take over the centre of Durham and the Gala Theatre, featuring films, talks, book signings, a running expo, free running activities, a new mile challenge called ‘Run Like a Legend’, and the already popular Prince Bishops 5K and 10K runs.

Neil Costello, head of marketing at Atom Bank, said: “We love Paula’s Families on Track concept including adults and children running together, no matter the age or ability, and are delighted to support the inaugural event here in our home city of Durham.”

Professor Martyn Evans, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Colleges and Student Experience) at Durham University said: “We believe in the extraordinary power of sport and exercise to bring together people of all backgrounds and abilities – whether they be students, staff, or members of the community – and the Durham City Run Festival is a prime example of this.

“We are proud to be supporting this event, which will make its debut in Durham this summer, offering a great way for families to get active and participate in the festival.”