THE Burton and District Summer League celebrates its 10th anniversary this year – and organisers are hoping for bumper race entries.
It comprised just five events in 2004 and now boasts eight, starting with the Conkers Five on April 27.
The series’ success over the last decade has been born out by a massive upsurge in participation levels and Burton Athletics Club chairman Matt Benfield is hoping that trend continues.
He said: “Many of the clubs enjoy the local rivalry of a league competition.
“The league has a great range of races varying from a two-mile Washlands Relays team event up to a half marathon held in Uttoxeter each year.
“With a wide range of races there is something for everyone – and we often find different clubs and athletes winning the various competitions.
“We have seen competitors travel from miles away to take part, and the numbers have risen steadily.
“Not only has it been a focus for club runners, but local keep-fit clubs, casual joggers and amateurs have joined in to make the races a great focus for the community.
“The races form a valuable part of the local running scene.
“The money raised from these events goes back into the community, either to local charities or to promote health and wellbeing through further sporting activities for youngsters, as well as supporting the local economy.”
In addition to Burton AC, the other club’s involved in the league are South Derbyshire Road Runners, Uttoxeter Road Runners, Hatton Darts, Washlands Women Runners, Ivanhoe Runners, Peel Road Runners and Tamworth Athletics Club.
The series was the brainchild of Roland Gibbard, who sits on the Burton and District Summer League committee as an advisor.
He said: “I had growing concerns at the declining competition that we had in the area.
“This corresponded with the increase in clubs – Washland Women, Hatton Darts to name but two – and my thoughts were that we could get the clubs together both competitively and socially.
“Through my articles (in the Burton Mail) I called an open meeting at the Burton Bridge Brewery one midweek evening and it was surprisingly well attended with the clubs very much interested in creating a league.
“The rest is history.”
The Midsummer 10k was one of the original five races, and former Burton AC member Nick Chapman recalls how entries more than doubled within two years of it becoming part of the series.
He said: “This increase was mainly as a result of the league.
“As the number of clubs within the league expanded to include Tamworth (Athletics Club) and then Peel (Road Runners), runners within those clubs got to hear about and participate in the Midsummer 10k.
“The breadth and variety of runs that are held each year within the league also gives people a genuine choice of runs to take part in and still compete for the league prizes – so if people get a little jaded, or cannot make certain runs for a particular year, they can return to that race one of two years later.”