Runners in Herefordshire have launched a campaign to stop the county becoming the only one in England without a competition-standard athletics track.

Laid in 1988, the state of county's only accredited track at Hereford Leisure Centre is hampering the training, performance and development of the county’s athletes, and could soon lead to it losing its competition licence from the sport’s governing body England Athletics.

But to get the whole track re-laid will cost up to £350,000.

A Dawn to Dusk run at the track on January 2 to highlight the problem drew around 150 runners from several of the county's athletics clubs, and was featured on BBC Midlands Today.


However, an online fundraiser launched on the same day by the Herefordshire Athletics Association has so far raised less than 1 per cent of the sum needed.

“The track has got into its current condition due to years of under-investment,” according to association secretary Ben Skinner, who helped organise the Dawn to Dusk run.

This “was more of a awareness event, making people understand that investment is desperately required, and has already started some good conversations”, he said.

The popularity of running in the county is growing, partly due to the rise regular, informal Parkrun events, he said.

But if the funding target is not reached, “the only track facility in the county will not gain future licenses to host meetings and events – a fundamental part of the development of our county’s athletes”, he warned.

“The track would be able to host training sessions, but without these meeting and events we are worried about its long-term future.”

The track, along with the rest of the leisure centre, is owned and managed by Halo Leisure. Its partnership manager Alex Haines said: “We are working closely with the running clubs to explore all funding opportunities for the resurfacing of the running track.

“Funds are currently being raised by local fundraising efforts and Halo Leisure is also proactively investigating wider grants and financial support.”

Want to stay up to date with all the latest news for your local area? It's easy, just sign up for our weekly email newsletter here and all the important stories that matter to you will be delivered straight to your inbox.

The campaign has now been backed by current 1500m world champion Jake Wightman, who was a contender for the 2022 BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

“Hoping the total can be made, with family deep rooted in Herefordshire and athletics this would be a great loss,” he said.

His mother Susan (née Tooby) and her identical sister Angela grew up in Woolhope near Hereford, before both went on to have successful distance running careers in the 1980s.

Jake Wightman’s father Geoff was also a champion marathon runner before becoming his son’s trainer and a regular athletics commentator, and has also given the campaign his support.

What are your thoughts?

You can send a letter to the editor to have your say by clicking here.

Letters should not exceed 250 words and local issues take precedence.