New 3-2-1 routes in Manchester

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The Run England 3-2-1 project aims to provide a range of marked out routes for people to walk, jog, or run in their own time. Manchester City Council has used many of its parks and open spaces to create new 3-2-1 running routes. 

There are now 14 parks that are marked up with the 3-2-1 signage, with an even split between north, central, and south. Each park has 3 separate routes which all vary in distance depending on the size of the park.

  • For example Queens Park is one of Manchester’s smaller parks and has route 1 at 500 meters, route 2 at 800 meters, and route 3 at 1km. In each park, route 1 is always the short distance, route 2 the medium distance, and route 3 the longer distance.
  • Chorlton Water park is one of Manchester’s largest open spaces with route 1 being 1 mile, route 2.1 miles, and route 3 is a 5km loop, which will also be used to stage future 5km events.

3-2-1 routes can also be used to mark up existing events in parks such as Great Run Local and parkrun. Manchester’s Birchfields Park hosts a weekly Great Run Local where the 2K and 5K courses are permanently marked by 3-2-1 route markers, making it easier for participants to find their way round and also now requiring less marshals throughout the course. People can also have a go at the route in their own time!

The project began at the beginning of spring 2014 with money secured through Manchester’s Sports Development department to fund the cost of the marker disks, wooden posts, and lecterns. The average cost per park has been £450, with the markers being ordered from Run England and a contractor coming in to fit the posts.

The parks were identified through a mixture of site visits and use of tools such as Google Earth, which was then whittled down to 14 parks which were suitable to host three separate routes each. Routes were then plotted via Google Earth initially and then checked with the appropriate area managers within the Council’s growth and neighbourhoods department. Once agreed, further site visits were done to establish where posts were required and in some instances where markers could be attached to existing features within the park.

The routes have been used in a number of ways, with local groups using them for interval training sessions. One of the Manchester City Council’s staff groups are based a few minutes from the Queens Park routes and use the short jog to the park as their warm-up, followed by repetitions of the red route which is 1K long. There are also plans to use some of the 1 mile loops and 5K loops to stage local timed runs for beginners to get involved with. Specific work with in the local community of each route will also take place to promote the routes. Highfield Country Park’s 3-2-1 routes are close by to a Sure Start Children’s Centre in which all parents and staff are being invited to part in a led run around the routes by one of Manchester’s Activators.    

A local contractor quoted at £45 per post, which included fitting the posts into the ground. The cost per marker is £2.40 and each marker was fitted by general wood screws which cost £2 per box of 200. So for a park that requires 10 posts and 20 markers the total cost was £500.

All routes are the responsibility of the Manchester Activators and will be monitored for damage on a regular basis. Each park management team are also aware of the routes and will report any damage back to the Activators, ensuring that all routes are well maintained and sustainable in the long term.

If you are a Local Authority, Higher or Further Educational institution or other landowner and would like to set up a 3-2-1 route, please visit

To find a 3-2-1 route near you, please visit

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