Scottish record holder Andrew Butchart revealed he had raced the Callendar Park cross-country route in his younger days, before heading to Olympic glory at Rio.
The middle-distance runner, part of Team GB at this year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, was inspiring young runners ahead of Tuesday’s INEOS Go Run for Fun event for Falkirk primary schools.
The race also incorporated the first leg of Falkirk Victoria Harriers’ primary school cross country league.
Around 1,200 primary school children, aged 8-11, joined forces to cover the course – and hills– cheered on by parents, friends and the GO Run For Fun mascot, Dart. The Falkirk run is the first of the Scottish events to take place this academic year.
The youngsters were joined by 24-year-old Butchart – the current Scottish record holder in the 3000 metre and 5000 metre events, having broken the Scottish 5000m record earlier this year in Holland, running the last lap with only one shoe. He recently returned from competing in the 5000m event in Rio.
Andrew, who training partner Mo Farah recently called ‘the man’, said: “It’s great to be involved in an event like GO Run For Fun, to help inspire the next generation of sporting talent and to encourage more kids to get fit. You never know, there might even be a future Olympian in the mix!”
There was when Butchart went over the course in his younger days at one of the many athletic pursuits hosted in the park which this year hosted the local children for their first run of the school year.
Caroline Lawless, additional support for learning administrator at Falkirk Council and treasurer at Falkirk Victoria Harriers, said: “As our Primary Schools Cross Country league starts its 15th season, it is once again fantastic to welcome the Go Run for Fun team to our event. Their involvement adds to the occasion, creating a wonderful atmosphere for the children to enjoy. Having yet another superb ambassador in Andrew Butchart, the current Scottish Cross Country Champion (winning the title at Callendar Park) and an Olympic 5km finalist, who many will have seen running with Mo Farah, will be a huge inspiration and encouragement for everyone.”
The GO Run For Fun campaign is the idea of Jim Ratcliffe, owner of INEOS, which announced a £1.5m donation over three years to encourage children to run for fun via the GO Run For Fun charitable foundation.
Having encouraged more than 163,000 children to get running through over 250 events so far, GO Run For Fun is the biggest children’s running initiative in the world.