Memorial run joins the festival

A MAJOR fixture in the Northumberland athletics calendar is being moved next year, to tie in with Alnwick’s Olympic celebrations.

The annual Les Allcorn 10k race, organised by Alnwick Harriers, will be put back from its usual slot in May to instead take place on June 12, two days before the landmark arrival of the Olympic Torch in the town.

It will form part of the Festival of Alnwick, which is scheduled to run from June 9 to 15, when a host of community groups will lay on a week-long programme of events and entertainment to prepare for the historic occasion.

The race was first held in 1996 and named in memory of Harrier Les Allcorn, who died during the annual coastal run between Alnmouth and Beadnell the previous year. At 10 kilometres, the route travels through Hulne Park, on the edge of Alnwick.

And it will hopefully be started by one of the county’s own resident Olympians.

Harriers chairman Keith Sutton said: “We intend to get Nick Gillingham MBE, who won two Olympic medals in swimming, to start the race, as he’s a member of Alnwick Harriers. It would be particularly fitting with the torch coming to Alnwick, because we don’t have that many Olympians living locally.

“We’re just delighted to get the date moved to coincide with the Festival of Alnwick, which runs in conjunction with the 2012 Games. The Duke of Northumberland very kindly allowed us to move the date forward, which is a big decision because it also coincides with the start of the pheasant-rearing season at Hulne Park.”

Keith added: “Les was a massive runner and an extremely talented athlete – he would have loved this.”

Details of the race, which usually attracts up to 200 runners, will soon appear on the new website for the community festival, which has just been launched at www.festivalof

Entry forms will also appear on the noticeboard at Willowburn Sports and Leisure Centre in Alnwick.

Alnwick Harriers has established itself as a formidable presence on the North East athletics circuit, where its runners compete throughout the year at all levels, from junior to veteran, both men and women.

Formed in 1981, it was affiliated to the Amateur Athletic Association the following year.

Another highlight in the Harriers’ calendar is the Northumberland Coastal Run, which last year had almost 900 competitors.