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Weir and Pavey inspire Mini-Marathon runners at Southwark Track

Ahead of Sunday’s Virgin Money Giving Mini London Marathon, David Weir and Jo Pavey visited the recently refurbished Southwark Park Athletics Track to check out the new facility and to provide advice and encouragement to members of the Southwark team who were making their final preparations for the event.  

The track, which was part-funded by Southwark’s Olympic legacy fund and backed by The London Marathon Charitable Trust, was officially opened in November and is now home to London City Athletics Club and King’s College Athletics Club, as well as a host of junior athletes from across the borough.

“It’s great to see the kids training and doing the Mini Marathon, because that’s where I started out,” said seven-time winner Weir who has gone on to win the senior race six times.

“It’ll give them a bit of confidence to come down to a place like this, it’s a good surface to train on with good facilities, and it’ll spur them on for Sunday. It’ll give them that little bit of belief but it will also bring them back because they know they’ve got somewhere nice to train and be safe, to socialise, get good coaching and get good guidance in life.

“I love seeing kids taking part in athletics, and facilities like this drive the youngsters to keep fit – they don’t need to reach Olympic level, even if it’s just to come and try sports on the track, it puts a smile on my face.”

Pavey didn’t get to experience the Mini Marathon but was inspired by the young athletes who will line up on Sunday.

“It’s lovely to hear their stories and to see how excited they are,” she said.

“I grew up in Devon and didn’t get the chance to run the Mini Marathon, but I always watched it on TV and wished I could be part of it. It’s great that they have the opportunity to take part as it’s the start of their career in the sport and they’ve all talked about how much they enjoy running on front of the crowds on Race Day.

“This is such an amazing facility and it’s so exciting that funds from The London Marathon Charitable Trust have made it possible.

“It will encourage children to give it a go – they see athletes on the telly and now they can give it a go themselves. It’s just brilliant for the whole community as well as the London Marathon athletes who can also train here.”

Councillor Barrie Hargrove said that it had been a long time coming but it’s been very well received. “We’re very proud to have an Olympic standard athletics track in this area,” he said.

“We wanted to provide a legacy following the 2012 Games and we now have two resident clubs with a minimum of 40 athletes at sessions.”

The Southwark Park Athletics Track improvement works are on-going and phase two, which includes an upgrade to the adjoining athletics pavilion and changing facilities, is scheduled for later this year.