End of the road for the Preston 10k
It's a hugely popular event that brings thousands of runners onto the city streets, but it seems that the Run Preston 10k has run its course.
Although this year’s event will go ahead as planned on September 24, organisers have confirmed that it will be the last.
Steve Ashcroft, 64, who is behind the run, told the Post that a mixture of hurdles including increasing costs, building work and road works mean that the races are no longer feasible.
“In the last year, the costs have gone up dramatically,” said Steve. “Lancashire County Council charged me around £3,300 in 2016 - that’s up from £1,400 the year before.
“So it’s a £2,000 increase in 12 months which is way over the top.”
According to LCC the money covers the legal cover for the road closures required for the event and advertising costs to notify motorists of it.
A spokesman for the authority said: “We work with event organisers to advise on road closures and traffic management which may be needed to ensure their event runs safely and with minimal disruption to other road users.
“We require event organisers to cover the cost of around £600 to the county council of putting in place a legal order to close the road.
“However the further cost of advertising the closure, which is needed to comply with highways regulations, is not in the county council’s control.”
The costs, coupled with being unable to use the Covered Market which is being glassed over, the fish market and Preston Flag Market which are being used by other events, have led Steve to think the barriers in the way of the event are too great.
“It’s become impossible, none of the places are available to use,” said Steve, who also has a fulltime job in security at Preston North End Training Ground.
“I get the feeling that LCC don’t want it.
“I’d like it to be a massive event.
“It’s fun, people in Preston turn out for it but there are just so many problems in front of us, it wears you down.”
The announcement that the run will grind to a halt has saddened runners who have enjoyed the challenge in years gone by.
David Coates, 36, of Fulwood, completed the 10k run last year. He said: “It was a brilliant event. “There were runners of all abilities there and the atmosphere was fantastic.
“It’ll be a huge loss to the city if it can’t continue.”
Fellow runner Ben Robinson, 33, of Cottam, added: “Runners look forward to the 10k because it’s a great route through Avenham Park and the city centre.
“There were hundreds of folk watching and cheering everyone on over the finish line. The cafés and shops in town will lose out on so much trade from all those visitors if there are no more events.”
Normally sponsorship each year brings in £1,000 for the race. “Sovereign Jewellers have been great supporters,” said Steve. This year Aldi has also come on board.
“But even if we get 1,000 runners that still won’t pay for costs,” said Steve.
Asked why the Manchester 10k can work but not Preston’s 10k he added: “Just have a look at the costs.”
Manchester’s 10k entry fees cost £38 while the charge for the Run Preston 10k is £14 for club runners and £16 for unattached and fun runners.
“I’ve never wanted to rip people off. People say why don’t you do it for charity but at the moment I’m having a hard time breaking even.
“Somebody said we could move down to Avenham Park but I don’t think its got the pull of a town centre race. The people of Preston come out for the town centre.
“It’s a difficult one.”
Steve has had to change the start and finish point for the races this year as well as start times as the roads need to be open at 11am which is earlier than previously due to changes at Fishergate.
For this year’s run, which takes place on Sunday, September 24, the 10k will start at 9am and the 5k will start at 10am.
Runners will gather around Preston war memorial to get their numbers and chip before setting of to complete the circuit.
The 2k run in Avenham Park starts at 1pm. Proceeds from the 2k go to charity Heartbeat.
For families and friends coming along to support runners there will also be a host of entertainment and activities set up around the flag market.
The deadline for entries is Friday, September 16.
Visit http://shoestring360.wixsite.com/runpreston for more information.