European champion, Pavey set to highlight Richmond Running Festival

Richmond Running Festival

European 10,000m champion, Jo Pavey (handicap MINUS 2.5)  will be the star attraction at Sunday’s Richmond Running Festival as she tackles the Kew Gardens 10k in her quest for the Queen of Richmond title.

Celebrating her 41st birthday the day before, the mother of two from Exeter comes into the event full of confidence following her European victory in Zurich in August and her recent third place finish over 5,000m at the IAAF Continental Cup in Marrakech last weekend. The European team captain in Morocco, Pavey’s stellar 2014 campaign also includes a 5,000m bronze medal from July’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow so she will be keen continue her fine form in Richmond.

Her nearest challenger is likely to be St Mary’s University graduate, Beth Potter (handicap MINUS 1.7). The 22-year-old Scot has enjoyed a breakthrough year, which was capped with a fine fifth place finish in the Commonwealth Games 10,000m final. Unlike Pavey, Potter has not raced since the European Championships, where she placed 14th over 10,000m,  so her fresh legs could help her to spring a surprise.

Meanwhile in the men’s 10k race, London 2012 Olympian, Chris Thompson (handicap MINUS 5.9) aka King Thommo returns to defend his crown. International distance runners, Charlie Grice(handicap MINUS 6.2), Ross Murray (handicap MINUS 3.9) and Charlotte Purdue (handicap MINUS 1.2) will be on hand to support the Nike Kid’s Mile later on in the afternoon. The Nike Kids’ Mile races will invite school children between the ages of 4 and 15 to take part in the races free of charge. Every child will receive a medal, a Nike t-shirt and a special autograph signed by an Olympian.

Sunday’s festivities will be officially started by six-time Paralympic champion, David Weir CBE and Commonwealth Games marathon champion, Michael Shelley of Australia. Based at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, the Richmond Running Festival hopes to additionally inspire the next generation of junior wheelchair athletes with the NIKE Kids’ Junior Wheelchair races for 11-17 year-olds. Part of Richmond’s London 2012 Olympic legacy programme, the races will be supported by Weir and coach, Jenny Archer’s charity – the Weir and Archer Academy.

Britain’s London 2012 Paralympic hero, Weir said: “I am delighted to be able to start this fantastic junior wheelchair event. “After training so many miles in nearby Richmond Park, I am pleased that London 2012 has inspired Kew Gardens to host Paralympic champions of the future.
“I am happy to see that the Borough of Richmond is building on the legacy of London 2012 in this way, and I am especially pleased that the Festival and Nike are allowing children to compete for free. “It will give them a great opportunity to experience the joy and sense of achievement you get when you cross that finish line in a world heritage site.”

The Festival at Old Deer Park will also be a fun family day out with local bands and DJ’s providing the music, while the gathering of London 2012 Olympians will be on hand to help make it a true celebration of running and fitness.

The Festival’s Race Director Tom Bedford said: “Last year, we started something very special that has enabled us to expand and target more of our Olympic Legacy aims.

Paul Buckley, Head of Visitor Services at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew said:
“We are delighted to be hosting the start of the Richmond Running Festival and support a local event that promotes active lifestyles for all abilities. “Sport in the Gardens is a rare privilege, and we are very excited about being part of this community event supporting Richmond’s London 2012 Legacy programme.”