Leigh-Ann Newburn and Mac the dog take part in the relay

Leigh-Ann Newburn and Mac the dog take part in the relay. Photo: Tara Burns Photography

A group of residents completed a ‘lockdown relay’ run on the fringe of the Lake District to raise funds for their local medical practice.

The 24-hour relay round a five-mile circuit was completed without batons – runners communicating their positions via social media.

The 28 participants, who included business owners and residents of Shap, the Cumbrian village just outside the western boundary of the national park, used the event to raise their spirits, along with some cash for the local NHS.

Ruth Kirk, one of the organisers, said: “The ‘race’ involved a circuit of 5.3 miles, starting on Main Street, Shap at 4.15am on Saturday and looping round the old ‘concrete road’ created for the building of the Haweswater dam, on the fringe of the Lake District national park, and back to the start with the last runner finishing at 4.42am on Sunday.

“Unlike most relay races, there was no baton to pass. To adhere to the government’s social-distancing and exercise regulations, the runners did not assemble but communicated via social media from households along the route so that as one person finished on one side of the street, the next was ready to start on the other – more than 10m apart.”

Villager, Vicky O’Neill, who came up with the idea for the challenge with her partner, said: “It had been a tough few weeks for all of us adapting to lockdown restrictions in Shap.

“The reality of the impact it was going to have on our lives and businesses was beginning to settle in. My partner and I were trying to be upbeat about the situation and came up with an idea, the Shap Lockdown Ultra Relay.

“It would be something we could do as a team, while following all lockdown regulations, in an effort to lift everyone’s spirits. At first it was just between us and a few close friends but within 24 hours neighbours and friends had heard on the grapevine about our idea and wanted to get involved so we decided we had to aim for a 24-hour relay to symbolise those on the frontline working round the clock.”

Some of the team members who have businesses in Shap have been hit hard by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and said they saw the event as a way of building resilience for both their mental and physical health.

Scott Newburn, owner of accommodation business New Ing Lodge, said: “It’s completely devastating and will affect us not just at the present but for at least another couple of years.

“We are lucky that we will still have our business and a job to go back to after this is over but it’s very deflating to know that 12 years of very hard work is resulting in getting into even more debt and losing so much money.

“We do feel lucky to live in a part of the world where even in very hard times the community can pull together like this and create an uplifting and happy event. When the idea was mentioned there was never any doubt that we would be a part of it.”

The lockdown relay took place over 24 hours

The lockdown relay took place over 24 hours

Wiz Lees, owner of Wiz Lees Fitness and co-owner of Fox Red Events said: “Both my fitness and events businesses changed overnight. Classes and personal training stopped and my events business partner and I had to cancel the adventure festival we host in June, so going from two jobs to none.

“We decided we wanted to do something to keep Wiz Lees Fitness tribe alive by doing virtual classes at a minimal price or free for people who have also been affected financially. When one of our tribe members Vicky came up with an idea of the Shap Lockdown Ultra Relay we saw it as a way we could run together while apart, with the excitement and camaraderie of an event, whilst sticking to all the NHS and government guidelines.”

The run comprised 32 laps totalling 169.28 miles and so far, more than £1,600 has been donated to provide funds for Shap Medical Practice.

Donations can be made via a JustGiving page.

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