A running festival is to be held in Portadown next month.
The event, to be organised by Portadown Running Club, is expected to draw large crowds with on-street vendors and caterers to serve the needs of participants and spectators alike.
Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council’s environmental services committee has given its backing for plans to host the big event.
At its February meeting, members were told Portadown Running Club plans to host the festival on Sunday, March 12 which will include a 10k race, a half marathon race and a full marathon.
The club intend to use Portadown People’s Park as a start and finish point for all three races and have chosen to hold the event on a Sunday on health and safety grounds, as the clubs believes roads would be much quieter, which will aid the event which is expected to have more than 500 participants.
If everything goes to plan, the festival will run from 7am until 3.30pm on Sunday, with the race route taking in mainly closed roads and a section of the Newry Portadown Canal Towpath and the Woodlands Walk in Gilford.
Portadown Running Club has also requested permission to allow vendors to trade at the event to provide catering services for participants and spectators who wish to attend as well as fundraise for the Southern Area Hospice Services.
With vendors responsible for their waste/litter and its disposal after the event, council officers recommended approval was granted for the club to set up event infrastructure and trade as part of Portadown Running Festival, subject to all relevant health and safety and insurance documentation being provided to council officers.
Councillor Julie Flaherty said she was happy to propose the officer’s recommendation to approve but asked if assurances could be provided to churches eager to know their congregations will be able to access their place of worship on that Sunday.
“I know the club has already spoken to some individuals and organisations in the town but a number of the churches have been in touch with a slight concern,” said the UUP councillor.
“They are slightly concerned about some of their congregation getting in, in the morning, along the route. Can we just have some assurance that they can pass on to their congregation to ensure all can be accommodated?”
The proposal was seconded by Sinn Fein councillor Paul Duffy, who called on council to start notifying residents near the People’s Park immediately.
“I am happy to second the proposal to approve this event,” said the Portadown councillor.
“I would just ask that we don’t wait for this decision to get ratified at full council before we ask the running club to start notifying local residents in the Park Road area.
“I know a lot of them will have home help coming in on a Sunday so even if the club could talk to the residents’ groups in the Obins Street area to let them know what is happening.
“If this is left to after full council, it is probably only two weeks away so it’s just if the residents could be notified now that gives them as much notice as possible.”
The committee’s Vice-Chair, Councillor Catherine Nelson, who was chairing the meeting, said officers had confirmed with her they would reach out to residents’ groups and notify them of the event so this does not become an issue.
Following that assurance, the committee voiced its support for Cllr Flaherty’s proposal to approve the event which was seconded by Cllr Paul Duffy.