Olympic gold medalist Mary Peters has given her backing to a charity world record attempt to have the biggest relay race ever staged in Londonderry.
The Relay 1000 event has been organised by Derry-based charity Children In Crossfire, with all funds raised going to support projects in Africa, Asia and South America.
The event will be staged on Saturday, October 11 at the brand new Meadowbank sports arena in Magherafelt and follows on from the 10,000 Santas world record attempt in Guildhall Square last December.
Speaking ahead of the event, Dame Mary Peters said: “If my presence can inspire even one child to take up sport and follow their dream, then it will have been worth while for me to be involved.”
Children In Crossfire are hoping to put local young people in the Guinness Book of Records by smashing the current record of 801 people in a 100m relay in 24 hours.
Berni Ryan, youth campaign co-ordinator for the charity said: “The mission of Children In Crossfire is to enhance the dignity and improve the lives of people living in poverty; to enable people to help themselves by providing practical opportunities to create a better future; to work with determination and care to empower people in need, regardless of race, gender, religion or political affiliation.
“This will be a fabulous day for all involved, with lots of activities planned in the run up to the relay.”
Father Willie Maningi, a priest from Tanzania, receives funding from the charity for various projects in the Moshi area.
He said: “Because of fundraising initiatives such as Relay 1000, children living in extreme poverty are given a chance in life — a chance they may not have been given if it was not for the generosity of the people of this country.”
The last record was set on April 28, 2005 in Cheshire, England. Iain Robinson along with 801 runners broke the world record for the most participants to run a relay leg in 24 hours. Ms Ryan said: “We think we can beat that, and we also think we can raise a lot of money to help aid our causes in Ethiopia and Tanzania at the same time.
“In 2007 over 12,000 Santa's walked the streets of Derry and broke a world record, raising thousands of pounds for each of the sponsored charities, including Children in Crossfire. This was a major record breaking attempt and made the news all over the UK and Ireland.
“Following on from this extremely successful event we are attempting to break the record for most number of participants to run a 100m relay in 24 hours. This event will not only help raise funds and awareness for Children in Crossfire but also help promote healthy living and exercise for many of the young people in the UK and Ireland.”
The Meadowbank arena is the largest of its kind in Europe and boasts an impressive set of facilities including a 400 metre, six lane synthetic athletics track which will be used for the record attempt.
Further information about the event can be obtained from Children In Crossfire on 028 71269898 or log onto: www.relay1000.com.