You have heard of mayors. You have heard of running. But have you heard of running mayors? Well, Ealing just got one.
With COVID-19 and social distancing changing the way we live and move, and the need for climate action requiring a green recovery from the pandemic, people around the world have been looking for ways to encourage ‘active travel’ such as cycling, walking and, yes, running.
In fact, running is one activity that has benefited from the pandemic: It is booming. According to Sport England, one in five UK adults ran regularly during the first lockdown. And lots of us have stuck with it since.
Running mayors to help ‘active travel’ push
A new network of ‘running mayors’ from all across the country have been announced by the RunSome campaign, led by Runner’s World magazine and backed by high profile supporters. These include five-time Olympian Jo Pavey and Scotland’s cycling and walking commissioner Lee Craigie.
In Ealing, Tom Kerry (pictured above) has been appointed the borough’s running mayor. He chairs Ealing Half Marathon CIC, the organisers of the popular annual event endorsed by Ealing Council.
The running mayors will promote running as a form of active travel, positioning it as a viable alternative to jumping in the car for short errands and local trips, as well as running for leisure and sport.
RunSome is urging the government to include running in its £2billion active travel funding. With a quarter of a million people in the UK already running everyday journeys, the campaign aims to double this to over half a million people by 2022.
According to Sustans, a quarter of UK journeys are a mile or less and more than two thirds of car trips in UK cities are less than three miles. Cities worldwide are adapting streets for people to enable more journeys on foot and bikes. If the UK’s 11 million runners ran just one or two everyday journeys a week rather than drive, it would make a significant difference to air quality. Improving air quality is something that plays a key role in Ealing Council’s climate action strategy. And the positive effects of exercise on your mind and body are well documented.
‘I’m excited to be our first running mayor’
The new running mayors will aim to provide a face and a voice to champion running in the place they know and care about, the area where they live.
Tom said: ‘I’m thrilled to be part of the RunSome campaign. Ealing is already a vibrant running community and a great place to enjoy running, but we can do more together. I’m excited to be our first running mayor and will be encouraging more people to make running part of their everyday lives, promoting running’s positive benefits to health and wellbeing, as well as championing running as a means of active travel.”
Jo Pavey said: “I’m thrilled to be involved in the RunSome campaign and to support running mayors. Encouraging people to make some everyday trips in an active way is great for both health and wellbeing and the environment. During these difficult times for everyone, it is also even more important to promote the massive benefit that running can have on our mental health.”
The running mayors will also work with other local stakeholders to champion a range of topics that they care deeply about. For many that also includes improving safety and security for women when running, walking and cycling – be that through better lighting, upgrading routes and pavements or ‘buddying up’ schemes.