#ETW17: Middlesbrough sport and leisure

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.

stewart-parkrunIf 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.

We will return to running at the end of the article as we have made a brand new Love Middlesbrough route for you to try out.8km

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

cycle-trackTime to give a big mention to Middlesbrough Sports Village.

sports-village-1Middlesbrough 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.

sports-village-gymThe athletics stadium has a 8 lane 400m track, 10 lane 100m track, a grand stand with 584 seats, 4 long jump pits, high jump, hammer throw and pole vault.

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.

tennis-worldFrom 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.

middlesbrough-ascAs 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.

golf-clubNow 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.

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The Ali Brownlee Riverside Run

The Ali Brownlee Riverside Run was first renamed last year in honour of the local broadcasting legend who died last February after a short battle with cancer.

The new name for the Middlesbrough 5k Road Race and 2k Fun becomes a permanent fixture when the event returns on Sunday, July 2.

Middlesbrough Council and leisure services partner Everyone Active are hoping for another record turn-out for the run which takes in some of the town’s most striking landmarks including Temenos and the Transporter Bridge, before a memorable finish beside the hallowed turf inside the Riverside Stadium.

I chatted with Race Director Jimmy Wattis at a gathering of Alastair’s family and famous Boro personalities to officially launch the 5km run.

The launch of the Everyone Active Ali Brownlee 5K Riverside Run took place at the Riversiode Stadium on Wednesday 1st March. 1-3-17  Pic Doug Moody Photography
The launch of the Everyone Active Ali Brownlee 5K Riverside Run took place at the Riversiode Stadium on Wednesday 1st March.
1-3-17 Pic Doug Moody Photography

Q: We are here at the Riverside for the launch of the Ali Brownlee Riverside Run – I believe the name is now a permanent memorial to Alastair.

JW: Yes, Ali first ran the 10k probably about 10 years ago. We both decided that his skills were probably best used doing the commentary. Then I organised the Sport Relief Mile from the Town Centre in 2008 and we wanted to develop that and we felt that we could extend it to a 5k and take it round the Riverside. So from 2009 Ali did the commentary on this event as well. And I know how much it meant to him being able to come out and meet so many people in a position where he could encourage people and see the joy on peoples faces as he shouted their race number out or if they had their name on their shirt, he would shout their name out. He was just an incredible man all round and I know that he had these events in his heart and I thought that it was only right that we named the event after him.

Q: Of course one of Alastair’s daughter’s ran last year.

JW: Yes, I wasn’t involved last year but Alison ran last year and I think Emily, Alison and Alastair’s wife, Wendy are all going to do it this year.

It is great for the town. We hope that all those thousands of fans that still sing Ali’s name at the games come out in force and support the run and I am sure they will have a great time.

The launch of the Everyone Active Ali Brownlee 5K Riverside Run took place at the Riversiode Stadium on Wednesday 1st March. 1-3-17  Pic Doug Moody Photography
The launch of the Everyone Active Ali Brownlee 5K Riverside Run took place at the Riversiode Stadium on Wednesday 1st March.
1-3-17 Pic Doug Moody Photography

Q: For anyone that jogs, parkruns or races, whatever ability it is special to finish in a football stadium, isn’t it?

JW: Oh it is, there is a fantastic atmosphere because obviously there are two events, we have the 2k fun run and we also have the 5k run, so as people are finishing whichever one they are running in you have got the support of the other runners sat in the stadium cheering them on. Other than last year but it will be back this year, we play Chariots of Fire theme as they run into the stadium. I know that each runner loves that and it will be back on this year. Hopefully, all being well, we will have pictures of Ali and commentary of Ali up on the big screen, that is what we are hoping to achieve this year. So, it will be fantastic for all involved.

Q: So, people that run the 5k can progress to the Middlesbrough 10k can’t they?

JW: Yes, that is what we are trying to do. We have tried to create a stepping stone for the 10k  because that has been a major event in the town since 2005. We are always out there beating the drum about people being healthier and fitter and so there are all the stepping stones there, there is a 2k, the 3k, the 5k and the 10k. Obviously and on top of that there is the Redcar half marathon that we would like to think people could achieve at some point as well.

Q: How long after the 10k is Redcar half marathon?

JW: It is 4 weeks after 10k, it is October 1st Redcar half marathon. So, you could train up for the 10k and then still get a couple of longer runs in and then start to taper off in time for the Redcar half marathon. So, I think the timing for the runs in Middlesbrough and on Teesside is perfect.

Q: It is a great thing that there seem to be more people running than ever before.

JW: Oh there are. I think everyone notices now the nights are starting to get lighter you can see people out all the time. The 10k route especially with it being marked, so people know the distances and they know the times and I think that route has been great for the town as well.

It is always a great event and one of my favourite day’s of the year but the permanent renaming after the great, late Alastair Brownlee and the involvement of his family is bound to make the Riverside Run that bit more special.

Alastair’s widow Wendy said: “I am really honoured to have such a wonderful and prestigious event named after Ali – he would be so proud.

“I know what this event meant to him, he was always excited when he was leaving the house on the morning knowing he was going to meet so many people and to be able to cheer and encourage each and every one of them on.”

To register for either the 5k or 2k please visit www.runmiddlesbrough.com

Entries are also being taken for the 2017 Taylor Wimpey Tees Pride 10k and 3k Fun Run which takes place on Sunday, September 3.

For further information contact Jimmy Wattis on 01642 20083

The launch of the Everyone Active Ali Brownlee 5K Riverside Run took place at the Riversiode Stadium on Wednesday 1st March. 1-3-17  Pic Doug Moody Photography
The launch of the Everyone Active Ali Brownlee 5K Riverside Run took place at the Riversiode Stadium on Wednesday 1st March.
1-3-17 Pic Doug Moody Photography
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