Brighton to host marathon with 10,000 runners

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Brighton and Hove is to host its first ever marathon with more than 10,000 runners, under plans announced today.

Proposals have been unveiled for a major running event in the style of those in London, New York and Boston.

Thousands are expected to take part in the inaugural event, which organisers predict will draw up to 30,000 people into the city.

The event would generate millions for the city's economy.

The plan has been masterminded by Tim Hutchings, a former Olympic athlete from Burgess Hill who has been part of the London Marathon operations team.

Mr Hutchings, who won a 5,000m bronze medal in the 1986 Commonweath Games, said: "We want this to be a smaller version of the London Marathon but with the same carnival atmosphere, involving all the community and bringing to Brighton all of the emotions the London event engenders - fun for participants and spectators."

He added that a race would be expected to raise more than £1 million for local and national charities.

It will be timed to be a week before or after the London Marathon, with the intention of attracting entries from some of the 70,000 runners who miss out on places in that race.

Mr Hutchings' company Grounded Events had hoped to stage the first Brighton and Hove run in April 2009 but has been told that would be impossible because of the amount of building and roadworks due to take place across the city.

Work should then have started on the King Alfred complex and the i360, while Southern Water will be continuing their project to replace the city's Victorian water mains.

Mr Hutchings said he was in negotiations with Brighton and Hove City Council and the emergency services about staging the first marathon in April 2010.

Talks between the groups have been positive, with all in favour of the event if practical issues over emergency access routes and traffic flow can be worked out.

A spokeswoman said the council was "very interested" in the marathon and had asked the organisers to prepare further details of the proposals.

A number of planning stages must still be gone through before the race can be given the go ahead.

The proposals have been warmly received by running clubs and the public.

Chris Carter, chairman of Brighton and Hove City Athletics Club, said: "A marathon would be great for the town, it is something that has not happened in this area before but would be very welcome."

He said the 10km race run on the seafront each November now attracted 3,000 runners and the Sussex Beacon Half Marathon run on Sunday had almost 5,000 entrants, so there was a growing demand for running events.

Mr Carter said: "It is bound to get people out and running. There are a lot of people out there who would like to run a marathon once in their life and will take this as the motivation to get active."

Brighton Kemp Town MP Des Turner said a marathon would be good for health in Brighton and Hove and would be a good addition to the city's calender of events.

Dr Turner said: "It would be tremendous. I just wish I was fit enough to be able to think of entering."

Negotiations about the route are on-going but the provisional plan is for runners to start at Preston Park and head north on the London Road A23 to the junction with the A27, where they will turn back on themselves and run back to The Level. There they will head north on the Lewes Road to the junction with the A27 and back again before heading along St James's Street, through Kemptown and on to Marine Parade as far as Roedean school.

Turning back towards the city centre they will move onto the seafront then head through North Laine and The Lanes then go towards Hove, either on Western Road or the seafront. They will run as far as St Leonard's Road in Hove before turning back once more and finishing the race with a long stretch along the seafront to the end on Madeira Drive.

Mr Hutchings said he wanted bands, sports clubs, schools, scouts, guides and other community groups to line the route, man refreshment stations and contribute to a carnival atmosphere.

Tony Mernagh, executive director of Brighton and Hove economic partnership, said a marathon and the additional visitors would contribute greatly to the city economy during an ordinarily quiet time, particularly as many people would stay overnight at hotels. The latest statistics indicate the average spent by visitors to the city is £53 a day.

Mr Mernagh said: "This would be a very nice booster to the economy and might tie in with a strategy to have more events during the closure of the Brighton Centre for redevelopment and the drop in the conference trade that is likely to create."

Talks between Grounded Events and the council are set to continue in the autumn.

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