Olympian Andy Vernon has helped four-strong training group to get ready for their half-marathon debuts

The very first Simplyhealth Great East Run will take place on Sunday September 24, with 3000 runners set to tackle the half-marathon distance in Ipswich, Suffolk.

The 13.1-mile course will welcome participants of all abilities from around East Anglia and across the country in the UK-wide Great Run Series.

Four of those runners have been supported by the event’s Elite Athlete Ambassador, middle distance runner Andy Vernon, and Ipswich JAFFA Running Club.

Olympian Vernon, a European silver medallist, has offered advice and training tips to the group through Skype calls and weekly online chats. He met up with them to give them some final words of advice at St Matthew’s Primary School in Ipswich, where they joined a group of children who were taking on the Daily Mile.

Vernon also visited a host of schools across the region to celebrate their commitment to encourage physical activity into the children’s daily lives, including Kyson Primary School and Northgate High School.

The group of Sara Spreadbridge, Faith Archer, Tony Holland and Jeff Allum started training in February by attending free weekly Great Run Local sessions at Needham Lake, before joining the bespoke JAFFA sessions when they reached a 5km distance.

Alison Beech, Chair of Ipswich JAFFA, said: “Ipswich JAFFA is delighted to have supported the four runners, helping them with training plans and advice as well as welcoming them to our club sessions.

“They have worked very hard and we can’t wait to cheer them over the finish line.

“We are proud to be one of the event’s partners and our race director Carl Ashton has worked tirelessly with his team of volunteers to facilitate Great Run bringing such a prestigious event to Ipswich.

“We look forward to watching it grow and develop over the coming years and would like to wish all this year’s participants a successful and enjoyable event.”

Richard Ward, Director of Propositions at Simplyhealth, the event’s title sponsor, said: “We’re looking forward to the very first Simplyhealth Great East Run and it’s fantastic to hear that so many people want to get involved.”