A MARKET town is to stage a high-profile sporting event as part of a campaign aimed at putting it more firmly on the map as a major visitor destination.
Hundreds of athletes are expected to converge on Morpeth to take part in the duathlon event – which it is hoped will attract a large crowd of spectators and raise the profile of the town as a tourist draw.
Morpeth has won the right to host what the sport’s governing body has accredited as a qualifying competition for the ITU Sprint Distance World Championships, to be held in Ottawa, Canada in August 2013.
The event will be held on Easter Monday, April 1, after the recently-formed Morpeth Town Team worked with locally-based Vo2max Racing to secure it.
The duathlon – which comprises a 6km run, a 29km bike ride and a 4km run – will start and finish in the town centre. Competitors will be flagged off from the Telford Bridge before heading through the market place and then into Carlisle Park, to complete the race circuit through Castle Square and into New Market. They will then jump on their bikes for a cross-country ride taking them through Pigdon, Netherwitton and Mitford, and back into Morpeth.
The final run will be around a town centre circuit, before crossing the finishing line in the market place.
The organisers are planning a series of family and children’s events on the day before the main event, including a 5km fun run.
Vo2max Racing evolved through the Tri-Northumberland club, which has been successfully staging triathlons at Woodhorn and Newbiggin-by-the-Sea for the last four years. David Lodge, chief executive of Greater Morpeth Development Trust and chairman of the town team, said: “The duathlon is one of a series of big events that will draw both locals and visitors into the town centre in 2013.”
Gary Wright, of Vo2max Racing, said: “We are incredibly excited about staging this event in Morpeth. There’s been a huge upsurge of interest from both spectators and competitors in the sport, thanks in no small way to the success of the Brownlee brothers, Alistair and Jonny, in winning gold and bronze medals for Great Britain in the London Olympics triathlon.
“So we’re hoping for a terrific turnout for the race, which could become firmly established as a great event for Morpeth and one of the top duathlons in the country.”