Orwell Walk in Ipswich set for big additions next year for 40th anniversary

Walkers and cyclists enjoyed the stunning scenery on the Orwell Walk on Sunday 21st June.
Ronnie Da

Walkers and cyclists enjoyed the stunning scenery on the Orwell Walk on Sunday 21st June. Ronnie Daley on his 37th Orwell Walk. - Credit: Archant

After 40 years, and having raised more than £1million, you could be forgiven for thinking the Orwell Walk and Cycle may be resting on its laurels. No such thing...

Next year’s event on Sunday, June 26, which will be the 40th Orwell Walk, is set to be bigger and better than ever, according to organisers the Rotary Club of Ipswich East.

So what is new about the 2016 edition?

For a start, the walk and cycle will be joined by a run. For the first time determined joggers and runners can tackle the 25-mile course.

The addition was considered after regular runner Nick Collinson decided to run the 25-mile course last year, clocking an impressive time of around three-and-a-half hours.

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He was so enthused by the experience that he duly put forward the idea to BBC Radio Suffolk presenter and Rotary Club member Mark Murphy, leading to next year’s inaugural Orwell Run.

“It was fantastic, and really quite challenging,” Mr Collinson said. “Last year I saw Mark at the end and said that was so brilliant, you should have people running it as well.

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“I think there will be lots of people that support it.”

The day offers different course lengths to suit people of all abilities, with walkers and runners able to attempt the 12, 19 or 25-mile routes, and cyclists pedalling their way across a five or 15-mile course.

But for the first time next year, the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) around Orwell Country Park will be opened up as part of the cycle route, providing cyclists with a chance to experience the area on two wheels for the very first time.

Mark Murphy said: “No-one is allowed to ride through that park, but we have got special permission for you to ride on that day as part of the 15-mile route.

“It’s absolutely stunning, beautiful countryside, and seeing the port in the distance is just brilliant.”

The event also prides itself on its strong community atmosphere, with the 25-mile trekkers helping each other along, and entertainment at the checkpoints, including live music, homemade treats and a service from the NewLife Family Church in Stowmarket.

“It’s great to see families, work colleagues, charity fundraisers, people in team t-shirts, all helping each other out – it’s really quite heartwarming,” Mr Murphy added.

The Rotary Club prides itself on providing a ready-made opportunity for people to raise money for causes close to their hearts, including national and local charities, as well as football kits for local teams, with a staggering £1.63million raised in its history, and £400,000 raised for the Rotary Club’s own good causes alone.

The event also includes regular checkpoints for people to rest at, and free water refills for everyone on the route.

Mr Murphy said: “They haven’t got to worry about getting permission, or check points – it’s all done for them.

“By having a launch event we can reach out to existing charities, who can all go away and tell their fundraisers about it.”

Michelle Bevan-Margetts added: “It’s an exciting opportunity this year that we are getting everybody together for the walk, cycle and wild run.

“It should be a great day and we are very proud to be hosting the 40th year.”

The entry fee is £15 for adults and £10 for children under 12, which includes free drink refills along the route.

Those registering before December 31 will be eligible for a 20% discount.

The event takes place on Sunday, June 26, starting and ending at Gainsborough Sports Centre, from 7am.

For more information and to register, visit www.orwellwalk.co.uk.

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