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Running through Smithills

Can just anyone get involved in running and where is best to visit across Smithills for an afternoon jog?

There are many sporting hobbies you can take up in our woods; one of the easiest, and most popular, is running.

Running through woodland, along streams and across farmland is one of the best ways to learn about your local area whilst getting fit and healthy. On the Smithills Estate there are 1,700 acres of different landscapes to enjoy. 

One local group dedicated to getting more people running is Time 2 Run events, organised by Dave Pearson; he answers our questions about the event below.

What is Time 2 Run events?

It’s relatively new to be honest. Phil Eccleston, a local running enthusiast, realised there was potential for more local people to get involved with his favourite outdoor hobby. Phil created Time 2 Run, incorporating a lot of smaller based races. He wanted to attract new runners to smaller events – Time 2 Run offers a broad range of events designed for one and all.

This year we put on a run from Smithills School to the Winter Hill mast and we were oversubscribed by race day. At 10k it was great for runners who couldn’t quite manage a half marathon. 

What events do you hold on the Smithills Estate?

There are four races over four months around the Barrow Bridge area called the Barrow Bridge 5K.

The races are designed to attract people who aren’t really runners and will find a 5k run doable. The idea of having four races is to mark their improvement across several months and be able to see what results you can get from just doing a few runs.

Participants get a medal for each race all combining to make a picture of Barrow Bridge.

What attracts runners like you to Smithills?

The beauty of it, the openness, the stillness and the views. I would go up to Smithills to train and I could just stand there, have a breather and enjoy a 360 degree view all the way around. It’s breath-taking and that’s what runners like – soft trails underfoot and being out in the open.

When people complete our races they have often been in awe. People have never been to this area. They ask ‘how have I missed this? It’s on my doorstep and I’ve never been up here’. It’s great hearing runners talk about a race that we put on in this way.

When do the Barrow Bridge runs take place?

Each race will be in the evening at 7:15pm. Registration is at 6pm at the Barrow Bridge Mission.

The next races in 2017

  • Tuesday 11 July
  • Thursday 21 September
  • Friday 13 October

Do you have any advice for new runners?

I got into running through taking my daughter to the local track during her after-school club. I watched her for weeks on end whilst I did no exercise at all. Until one day I plucked up the courage to see if I could run.

During that first evening I realised I couldn’t run 200 meters but as the weeks went on I went to 300, 400, 500 meters. I noticed I started losing weight and eventually the coach asked me if I’d like to help coaching. I ended up coaching kids and getting seriously fit in the process. After a year and a half I realised I was hooked.

I'd gone from not being able to run 200 meters to doing 10k races and more at 52 years old. I did it to get fit but I believe you need an incentive to get into running.

It has had a big effect on my health and my life. Up until I started running the furthest place I’d been was the edge of the Smithills Estate and I never had a desire to go any further but through running, I now see a path and wonder ‘where does that go?’ Suddenly I know Smithills like the back of my hand and it’s great.

It is infectious. When someone says I can’t run, it always makes me think of when I started running and I tell them you can. It will make you stronger and fitter and they do thank you for it in the end. I would seriously recommend it to anyone from 17 to 70.

Get involved with Smithills

If you are interested in volunteering with the Smithills Estate, please email our estate ranger