RUNNERS and a special needs sports club are delighted to be enjoying the new state-of-the-art all-weather track at Marl Pits in Rawtenstall.

Following a massive community fundraising effort, which involved Rossendale Harriers, Rossendale Triathlon Club, Rossendale Leisure Trust and special needs sports club Rossendale Rays, £190,700 was raised towards the new track and Rossendale Borough Council added a further £100,000.

More was raised offline including £70k from the will of the late Harry Frost, a former councillor.

The original cinder track, which was impossible to use in bad weather meant the members of Rossendale Rays could only ride their bikes in fine weather – now they can use Marl Pits springy new surface all year round.

Paul Mulderrig, who helps with the running of Rossendale Rays and fundraises for the special needs sports club, said: “It is a brilliant achievement to have progressed from what was a chat back in May 2021 to seeing the dozens of young athletes running round a new track in September 2022.

“It is possibly one of the best things that has been achieved by voluntary groups in Rossendale – it is incredible.

“The difference it will make now to the special needs club being able to operate all year round is difficult to describe.

“I want to give our thanks to Ken Masser and all the Rossendale Leisure Trust team, everybody at Rossendale Borough Council, Rossendale Harriers and Rossendale Triathlon Club.”

Work began on the new track in February and has just been completed.

The track will be open for the public to use, but users will have to register for a sign in code to access the facility, and this is still being set up.

Rossendale Harriers runners Christine Smith and Caroline Smith were delighted to try out the track.

Caroline said: “There will be no more children coming back home looking like they have been wrestling in a mud bath. It is amazing”

Christine added: “The juniors have been really excited about the track reopening, and loved their first session on it.

“We had 87 attending tonight. It’s like a breath of fresh air for the groups that use it and will be a valuable resource for the whole of Rossendale.”

Chair of Rossendale Harriers Graham Wright BEM said: “Considering what a big job it has been, it has been done quite quickly.

“The children love it and as soon as you walk on it you can feel the difference, it is so springy.

“I was a founder member of the harriers in 1966 and the track has been unsafe for runners for many years; for me the new track is fantastic.”

Rossendale Triathlon Club had been struggling to attract new members for 18 months and Chairman Stephen Hutchings said the track was the reason.

He said: “Our numbers were low because the track was not for for purpose because of the risk of injury, now we have one this magnificent facility, it is absolutely brilliant.” -Cathrine Smyth Media