If you enjoy spending your leisure time indulging in sport then English Tourism Week could not be better timed. Longer days and lighter nights means far more opportunity to get out and about and sporty. Just drive along any road it seems and you will soon be made to feel guilty as you pass by jogger after jogger. So, if you cannot beat them then join them. Here is a guide to a few of the options Middlesbrough has on offer to entice you out of that car.
I think we should start by looking at things that are totally free to do. If you were thinking about a lie in on Saturday morning, then think again. The start time for parkrun nationally is 9am Saturday and in Middlesbrough you have a choice of two 5 km courses lapping Albert and Stewart Park. Parkruns are exactly what they say, not a race but a run and all ages and abilities are welcome with open arms. Simply click on the website beforehand, register and print off your barcode and then pop along to the start line. Then afterwards join the runners and volunteers for a cup of tea in the cafe. Oh and yes you can have that slice of cake, you earned it. Register with parkrun.
If you are not visiting on a Saturday then don’t worry you can do the parkrun courses anytime, permanently marked out around Albert Park. They call them Freedom Runs when you run the routes on your own.
Middlesbrough has two very popular and well established annual community runs in the Tees Pride 10k and Ali Brownlee Riverside Run. The former 10km route describes a square around the south of Middlesbrough. It is marked out with kilometre signs so is a great way to practice throughout the year ahead of the 3rd September event. You can try and emulate last year’s winner, Middlesbrough and GB runner Matty Hynes, although you might struggle to match his time of 33 minutes and 44 seconds.
Never to be forgotten, oh so popular Boro commentator and Mr Middlesbrough Alastair Brownlee is remembered in the run that finishes with a circuit of Ali’s favourite football stadium the Riverside, on Sunday 2nd June.
Talking of the Riverside and the Boro, one of the biggest draws to Middlebrough is football tourism. Premier League status means football fans making pilgrimages to the Riverside from across the North Sea as well as around Britain. Middlesbrough Football Club has signed an agreement with DFDS Ferries opening up the club and the town to football followers from across northern Europe.
There are no Boro games during English Tourism Week but you can book to go on a Riverside stadium tour and learn something of the heritage of the club. You even get to experience the walk from the changing rooms and down the tunnel and out into the stadium itself.
I am staying with free now. If you have a bike then why not take it along the many miles of cyclepaths to Middlesbrough Sports Village where there is a 1 kilometre long track that you can cycle in complete safety and yes it is free. There are also cycles and equipment that can be hired for free. Book on the hour to ensure availability. Middlesbrough Cycle Circuit
Middlesbrough Sports Village is a wonderful hub for sports outdoor and indoor in one hub. It offers state of the art, bang up to date facilities, expert tuition and guidance. You are truly spoilt for choice with the options available here.
Things on offer are a large gym, athletics stadium, skate park, cycle circuit, velodrome, fun village, cafe, astro turf pitches, grass pitches, sports hall, ample parking and more.
You can play 5, 7, 9 and 11 aside football on the 3G football pitches. Badminton, table tennis, indoor football, basketball, volleyball , netball, hockey and short tennis can all be played in the main sports hall.
The latest addition is a £1.6 million outdoor velodrome track. This is available to anyone who have track cycling accreditation from any indoor velodrome in the country or either of the outdoor velodromes at York or Bournemouth.
Right next door to the sports village is Tennis World. This long established indoor and outdoor tennis facility offers the chance to play and also be coached in all weather. You can play outside for £5 an hour on hard court, £10 per hour on artificial grass or £6 on clay courts. Play out of any wind inside from £12 per hour off peak and weekends.
There are special tots tennis times and coaching is available for individuals and per group. Ring 01642 322388 for more details and bookings. My nephew recently booked some coaching here when he was visiting from Hong Kong and got a lot out of the experience.
From tennis to table tennis. Founded in 1957 Ormesby Table Tennis Club were once European Champions. Now established in excellent facilities in East Middlesbrough, on Cargo Fleet Lane you could play at a club with an incredible sporting history.
You might well be wanting to get in the swim. In which case Neptune Centre on Ormesby Road or Rainbow Centre at Coulby Newham could be just the places. Aimee Willmott trained for the London Olympics and Glasgow Commonwealth Games at the Neptune Centre, the base for Aimee’s old Club Middlesbrough Amateur Swimming Club, MASC.
As well as swimming, there are a full variety of sporting activities, exercise programmes available at the two leisure centres. If you are visiting long enough you can join Everyone Active for a month and use all of their facilities across Middlesbrough.
Everyone Active also run Middlesbrough Municipal Golf Club on Ladgate Lane. There has been a course here for 30 years now and it is set in a beautiful scenic parkland location. The course also includes a nine hole pitch and putt course as well as a floodlit driving range.
Now and finally for our heart-shaped Love Middlesbrough run taking in so many of the sights and sounds of Middlesbrough, something no visitor or resident could possibly not want to do. Specially designed with love from Middlesbrough to you. Enjoy the run. Enjoy your leisure time in Middlesbrough.