Paula Radcliffe’s new family athletics event to make global debut in Durham

Paula radcliffe Family Relay

A new concept that encourages families to exercise together will make its global debut in the North East this summer.  

The brainchild of marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe, ‘Paula’s Families on Track’ will give family groups the opportunity to work together to complete a set distance, in a secure setting and a format that allows everyone to contribute, no matter what their age or ability.  Sponsored by Atom Bank, the world’s first ever Paula’s Families on Track event will be held on Saturday 27 July, the final day of the 2019 Durham City Run Festival.  The three-day festival is being organised in a partnership between Durham County Council and Events of the North.

Thanks to support from Durham University, Paula’s Families on Track will be based at the university’s site on the old racecourse on the banks of the River Wear, a short walk from the city centre.  Mums, dads, children, grandparents and other family members will be set the challenge of completing 10K in a continuous relay in laps of either 1,000m, 500m or 250m, on a safe, enclosed course.

Marathon world record holder and mum of two Paula Radcliffe has developed the Families on Track conceptand explains the background: “I have so many fond memories of trips up to race in Durham as a family.  Sharing my passion for running with those I love the most is really important to me.  That’s why I want to encourage everyone to get fit and active together, running as a family unit and enjoying the experience.  My new concept embraces the importance of exercise, but in a fun ‘race’ format that includes everybody, no matter what age or ability. 

“There’ll be a real festival atmosphere with music, entertainment and the perfect start to the summer holidays. I look forward to returning to the city where I raced as a youngster in July and bringing my own children with me to take part in my very first Families on Track event during the Durham City Run Festival.”

During the first ever Paula’s Families on Track event in Durham, each family must complete their 10K target in any combination of laps (e.g. 6x1,000m, 5x500m and 6x250m = 10K). Each leg is completed by an individual who then hands over to another family member for the next leg.  Families can run in any order and run legs of any distance,as long as they complete 10K. A family group can be three, four or five people, of which at least one must be under 16 and at least one over 18, with every participant completing at least one lap.  Changeovers will take place in the ‘family pit lane’ where each team will have its own area. When the 10K distance is reached, everyone in a family unit will run the ‘Glory Leg’, crossing the finishing line together to receive their medals, goody bags and T-shirts.

The global debut of Paula’s Families on Track will mark the finale of the first Durham City Run Festival, a three-day event from 25-27 July, which will take over the centre of Durham and the Gala Theatre, featuring films, talks, book signings, a running expo, free running activities, a new mile challenge called ‘Run Like a Legend’, and the already popular Prince Bishops 5K and 10K runs. 

Neil Costello, head of marketing at Atom Bank, comments: “We love Paula’s Families on Track concept including adults and children running together, no matter the age or ability, and are delighted to support the inaugural event here in our home city of Durham.”

Professor Martyn Evans, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Colleges and Student Experience) at Durham University comments: “We believe in the extraordinary power of sport and exercise to bring together people of all backgrounds and abilities – whether they be students, staff, or members of the community – and the Durham City Run Festival is a prime example of this. We are proud to be supporting this event, which will make its debut in Durham this summer, offering a great way for families to get active and participate in the festival.”

Cllr Ossie Johnson, Durham County Council’s cabinet member for tourism, culture, leisure and rural issues, adds: “It is really exciting to have an athlete of Paula Radcliffe’s global standing giving her Families on Track concept its worldwide debut in County Durham.  This new event promises to be a fitting finale to the Durham City Run Festival as well as another standout date in our #Durham19 year of culture calendar, with the potential to attract hundreds of first-time visitors to the county.

“Families On Track is a great way for people to get fit and active while enjoying the experience of running with their loved ones, and we’d encourage everyone to sign up.”

Charity partner for Paula’s Families on Track at the Durham City Run Festival will be Kids Run Free.  Founded in 2010, Kids Run Free creates free, fun and sustainable outdoor running opportunities for children of all ages, from toddlers to teens.  The charity aims to ignite a passion for sport and physical activity and encourage young people to become healthier, happier, and more confident through running.

Full details of the Durham City Run Festival can be found at, including information about how to sign up for the first Paula’s Families on Track event.  For the latest news on the festival, follow @durhamcityrun on Twitter and search for the event on Facebook.