BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 13 Oct '14

RUNNERS UNITE TO PROTECT PRECIOUS GREEN SPACES

Former Olympic Gold ice-skating star Jayne Torvill and TV presenter and adventurer Ben Fogle sounded the starting horn for the Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon in Hyde Park yesterday, launching 16,000 runners on a 13.1 mile race past the capital’s most iconic landmarks.

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The celebrities – both ambassadors for the race – then joined runners past Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, the Houses of Parliament and the Royal Albert Hall – winding through four of London’s eight Royal Parks: Hyde Park, The Green Park, St James’s Park and Kensington Gardens.

Runners ranged from enthusiastic 17-year-olds taking part for the first time to 81-year-old Tom Briggs from the USA, with 43 different countries represented. There was also a host of runners in fancy dress running for charities close to their hearts.

£3m for charity

This year’s event is expected to raise more than £3million for the 262 charities taking part , and the annual Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon benefits the Royal Parks Foundation which funds sport, education, art, heritage restoration and wildlife conservation projects across London’s eight Royal Parks.

‘The 5,000 acres of London’s Royal Parks are one of Britain’s greatest national treasures. Funding has been cut each year for the past four years so it is especially wonderful to see runners coming together from all around the UK to support these precious green spaces.’

Sara Lom, founding Chief Executive of the Royal Parks Foundation

Royal Parks Foundation trustee and race ambassador Ben Fogle ran for Team Squirrel, the charity’s 180-strong running team which is hoping to raise £50,000 for activities in the Royal Parks – including an education programme for young people at the Isis Education Centre in Hyde Park.

The finish line

Coming in at a perfectly respectable time of 1 hour 48 minutes, Ben Fogle said, ‘What a beautiful, happy and optimistic event; all I’ve seen is smiles on everyone’s faces, the Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon is the top running event of the year.’

First-time half marathon runner Jayne Torvill, running on behalf of Children with Cancer UK, took the route at a slower pace and finished after 2 hours 15 minutes.

The winning runner was Carlos Fernando García Mañas from Granada, Spain – he made it around the course in a time of 1 hour 12 minutes. The fastest female runner was Amy Clements, from East London, who covered the distance in 1 hour 17 minutes.

For more information on the Half Marathon, visit royalparkshalf.com