The Outdoor City secures over £100k for major run route project


Sheffield is to benefit from one of the largest installations of running routes in England thanks to a new city-wide partnership which has secured over £100,000 funding from England Athletics. The first phase of this trailblazing project will be completed next month (April), with eleven new run routes (ranging from 1km to 10km in length - a total of 27 Kilometres in trails) marked across seven locations in The Outdoor City. The aim is to build over 20 new run routes in Sheffield by March 2017.

As Sheffield’s reputation as The Outdoor City grows in stature, the run routes initiative exemplifies how partnership working between local government, businesses, land owners, sport, health and community organisations can produce an outdoor recreational offering of national significance.

The funding secured by Sheffield City Council’s economic development agency, Creative Sheffield and Parks and Countryside Services forms part of the Recreational Running & Athletics Plan for England: 2013–2017. By delivering this plan England Athletics aim to have *2.4 million people running once a week in England.

Running in woodland

Of The Outdoor City Run Routes scheme England Athletics Chief Executive Chris Jones said: “This is the largest of the run routes projects England Athletics has undertaken in England. We’ve supported a number of significant schemes, including others in the North West such as the 3-2-1 Run England routes in Liverpool and the Greenline Urban running routes in Bradford but are delighted to be able to support a project on the scale of this one in Sheffield. The first eleven run routes have been carefully selected to appeal to all people; not just people who already run. Essentially we want everyone to have access to well signposted, well designed running trails that they can use to run, walk and that are accessible to all. Our ambitions to grow participation in sport and support people to be more active are mirrored by the values of The Outdoor City, making Sheffield the ideal location for this nationally significant project.”

Sheffield has 13 England Athletics affiliated clubs, 24 Run England Groups and 5 parkruns including the second largest parkrun outside of London. Sheffield is home to 1251 women actively engaged in England Athletics’ This Girl Can Run campaign.

To support the use of the new run routes an activation programme has been launched which aims to raise awareness of the newly marked trails and the many ways that people can use them. 

Emma Hurst of England Athletics explains: ”Once the run routes are in place, the real fun starts.  My job is to work with key partners and community groups to raise awareness of the routes and to create new opportunities for people to use the routes by running as part of a Run England Group. In some cases this is about linking with existing groups and their Run Leaders to support them in welcoming new runners, but more often than not it’s about setting new community run groups up by offering training to volunteers to become Run Leaders. We want to help people to think about the different ways the routes can be used; exploring with the kids, pushing a pram or taking a stroll with friends. It is all about being active and finding your own pace.”  

Running in woodland

Focusing largely on the communities that live, work and go to school nearby, the run routes activation programme supports a key component of The Outdoor City; encouraging people of all ages and abilities to use, enjoy and take pride in the green open spaces on their doorstep.  The Outdoor City Run Routes project will directly contribute to Sheffield’s physical activity strategy; Move More, which aims to transform Sheffield into the most active city in the UK by 2020. The Run Routes project will also see the first pilot of the latest ‘near frequency’ technology to come out of The National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine. This technology and supporting smart phone App is primed to help monitor participation and physical activity across Sheffield and will be launched officially during the Move More Challenge in July this year.

Woodland running route sign

Cllr Leigh Bramall, Deputy Leader of Sheffield City Council and Cabinet Member for Business, Skills and Development said: “This is the first big outdoor recreation project we’ve announced since launching as The Outdoor City. It is evidence that this new way of working, of pooling resources and aligning ambitions so that they serve the whole of the city, really works. By being truly joined up we have the opportunity to engage with national bodies in relation to health and wellbeing, sport and outdoor pursuits. We are organised in our approach and clear about who we are and what we want for the city and we are being listened to. Having these run routes, innovating through advances in technology, connecting to the city's physical activity strategy (Move More) and securing the ongoing support of England Athletics to help people ‘find their pace’ in Sheffield, are all big wins. And knowing that this is just the very start of The Outdoor City story – now that’s exciting!”
All of the routes will start from Sheffield’s parks or woodlands and vary in distance, gradient and difficulty.  Tested by runners in the local communities, the routes will be clearly signposted, and simple to follow. From their activation in May 2016 the first eleven run routes will have supporting maps and useful information available through The Outdoor City website

Outdoor countryside running with city view

The first eleven run routes will be marked in the following seven Sheffield locations:

  • Lowfields Park and General Cemetery
  • Ponderosa, Weston Park, Crooks Valley Park
  • Bradfield Dam
  • Concorde Park and Wooley Woods
  • Manor Fields
  • Graves Park
  • Millhouses Park and Ecclesall Woods

  Bottom photo by Duncan Philpott, others by Emma Hurst

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