The founder of a community running group says Larne needs a Mary Peters-style athletics track to hone talent and boost health in the town.
Event Director of Larne parkrun Nat Glenn says he would like to see a track plus changing facilities and a sand pit to enhance the town’s sporting potential.
Running is a popular sport in Larne, with two clubs, East Coast Athletics and Larne Athletics Club, in addition to the parkrun events.
“I would like to see a track and changing rooms like the Mary Peters track in Belfast which people can come and use for a variety of activities such as the high jump and long jump,” Nat told the Times.
“We would have between 60 and 80 people coming every Saturday for our adult parkrun at Carnfunnock and our junior parkrun on Sundays is also well-attended.
“Larne has always hit above its weight in sport and I think we need a track as this would enable coaches to see how the runners are performing and would help to develop future athletic talent.
“It would be open to the whole community and to people outside of Larne.
“There are running clubs in Ballyclare and Carrickfergus and it could be used by all.
“In the nineties we had Larne Olympian James McIlroy who had to leave the town to train, and the facilities haven’t improved much since then.”
In addition to helping tackle obesity, Nat says an athletics track would prove popular for safety reasons, with runners including young families able to exercise without having to dodge traffic.
Nat revealed that since the Larne parkrun began in 2013, he has seen many people change their lives by through running.
“The parkrun is for any activity level at all, even people who want to walk,” Nat explained.
“Slowly but surely the walkers start to run and then they start going to races and marathons. Running is fantastic; it’s pure, clean and fun and the atmosphere is incredible.
“Parkrun is free; all people have to do is get a bar code from www.parkrun.org and turn up.”
Larne’s 5k adult parkrun takes place at 9.30am every Saturday at Carnfunnock, meeting at Dixon Hall. The junior 2k parkrun is held at 9.30am every Sunday at the town park.