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Haverhill Running Club launch Olympic Torch Relay through the town and surrounding villages

The coronavirus outbreak may have stopped the Olympic Torch Relay on its route through Japan, but a version of it has been flying proudly through Haverhill and the surrounding area.

Haverhill Running Club’s juniors coach Sil Clay got the ‘HRC Flame’, which has morphed into a cutout drawing in a sealed plastic bag, on its way earlier this month by running from Ridgewell to Clare.

After posting a picture of her cutout version, the challenge was set to see how far it could go.

Haverhill Running Club member Sil Clay got the HRC virtual torch relay started with her run to Clare (33828167)
Haverhill Running Club member Sil Clay got the HRC virtual torch relay started with her run to Clare (33828167)

The next nearest club member, effectively picked it up on a separate run to take it on the next leg of its journey, finishing in Sturma. It has since become a fixed physical object.

Club secretary Trevor Burch explained: “One of our coaches came up with the idea, like the Olympic torch, to keep a flame burning.

“It started up in Ridgewell and every day the virtual running club torch gets moved around. I believe it is in Bartlow now.

“Because a lot of our members are in outlying villages we are trying to keep everyone involved.

“Obviously all the runs are being done solo.

“It spent about a week going around Haverhill before someone grabbed it and took it out to the villages such as Steeple Bumpstead and Castle Camps.”

It is one of a number of ways the HRC members, totalling more than 300, are keeping active and engaged with each other during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Weekly indoor challenges have also been set and so far encompassed: press-ups, sit-ups, dips and planks with members posting videos or pictures on social media and combining for a club total.

One of the most popular events in the club’s annual calendar, the Kevin Henry Series, should have got under way at the weekend from Impington.

But Haverhill, one of eight clubs in the area to take part in a six-race series, have started running it virtually with members asked to record their 5k on whatever route they can locally before it is uploaded to a spreadsheet (see next week’s Echo for first round results).

Burch said he felt it was important the club’s activities carried on during a tough time for people.

“We know a lot of members run for their physical and mental health and at these times mental health is even more important for us to help maintain. That is why we have gone all out to keep members engaged and give them some extra motivation to go out and do their daily exercise.”

He said the club had increased their mental health champions from three to eight since the lockdown.

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