Ealing Runners Get Church Blessing

Be a part of the borough's first ever half-marathon

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Having all the roads around you closed to traffic when your congregation is trying to get to your main weekly service doesn’t sounds like much of a blessing for a church minister.

 But churches in Ealing have turned a problem into an opportunity to participate in one of the boroughs biggest events, the Ealing Half Marathon.

The race starts in Lammas Park at 9.15am on September 30, with more than 4,000 runners covering the 13.1 mile route around central and north Ealing. And the last stragglers will not be expected back in Lammas Park before 1pm.

The event is expected to raise thousands for charities.

It could have been a headache, but church leaders have taken literally the advice from the New Testament book of Hebrews: “Let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us”.

When the Rev Steve Newbold of St Stephen’s Church in north Ealing learned that runners would be streaming past his church for more than an hour, he cancelled the regular 10am service.

Instead, some of his congregation will staff a water station and provide entertainment and encouragement for the runners and other spectators.

Meanwhile, he’s throwing open the church doors to allcomers, with a free café in its forecourt.

“Lots of people wouldn’t be able to get to our service,” he said. “But if we were locked away in a service while this was going on we’d be missing an opportunity.

“Instead, we’re bringing the church out into the community. We want to be part of what will hopefully be a fantastic day.”

Meanwhile, keen runner Fr David Neno - at St Peter’s in Mount Park Road - is unable to take part in this year’s race because of a knee injury.

But his church is also is going the extra mile in support of the half marathon, by hosting a “pasta party” between 5.30pm and 7pm on the eve of the race. Runners like to “load up” with carbohydrates to give them energy for a long run and will be able to get a tasty meal for just £2, with a voluntary donation to the church.

The party will be preceded on the Saturday afternoon at 5pm by a dedication service at St Peter’s to which all are welcome.

Father Neno said: “I got the idea from All Hallows by the Tower, which holds a service for the London Marathon, and thought we’d go one further and have a pasta party too.

“This is a great event and one the church should support as part of the community.”

In South Ealing, the churches of St John’s and St Mary’s are taking on the task of running the drinks station at the race finish.

More than 20,000 bottles of water, provided by sponsor evian®, will be given out during the race.

Leaders of other affected churches, including Ealing Abbey, St Andrews United Reform Church and Haven Green Baptist Church, are to give their congregations early warnings about access restrictions caused by unavoidable road closures and bus diversions.

Race director Kelvin Walker said: “We’ve been delighted with the churches’ approach to an event which we appreciate will cause disruption to their regular congregations.

“We’re particularly grateful for their help. They have embraced the community spirit of the event”.

To find out more about the race, visit: www.ealinghalfmarathon.com. Pasta party tickets will be available on the website soon.


16th September 2012