A FREE weekly parkrun event will soon be launched in Gosport.
Hampshire County Council has given a £3,000 grant to help start the 5k – which is just over three miles – event at Stokes Bay.
Supporters of the three-mile race say it is a good way to keep the town healthy after it was ruled the sixth fattest local authority area in England.
The £3,000 was donated from the county council’s Community Activity grants and is expected to benefit hundreds of people.
It will pay for equipment needed to get the event going.
Gary Heather, from Alverstoke, applied for the grant and said: ‘It is brilliant that the council agreed to give us the money. Parkrun is desperately needed in this area because we don’t have one close by. You put that with the high obesity levels and you can see that it is needed.’
Parkrun is a free, timed event which invites people of all ages and abilities to run 5k. Runs on Southsea seafront and at Staunton Country Park in Leigh Park see about 200 people take part every Saturday morning.
Gary, 51, added: ‘The great thing about parkrun is that anyone can take part.
‘Families can do it and there are no winners. It isn’t a race so people don’t have to feel intimidated.
‘When I did it last year, I fell in love with it and I think it is a great event.’
The idea has got support from Gosport business Absolute Running in Stoke Road, which organises the town’s Golden Mile and Golden 5k events in June.
Owner Nick Carter said parkruns are beneficial and one is needed for the people in Gosport and Fareham.
‘It was always important that Gosport and Fareham had a parkrun between them,’ he said.
‘It is a great way to encourage all ages to take part.
‘The race is family-friendly, free and fun.
‘Despite Gosport being the sixth fattest town, it has got a lot going for it and this will only help.
‘We’re chuffed that it is coming to Lee-on-the-Solent.’
Obesity levels in Gosport are being looked at by Gosport Borough Council’s Health and Wellbeing Board.
Cllr Roger Allen, who sits on the board, said: ‘The parkrun is very, very good. We already have the Golden Mile and 5km here and they get runners from all over the place. I am all for parkrun.’