LOCAL athletes will bid a fond farewell to a Teesside sporting icon at a special event next week.
Runners, joggers and walkers will take to the track at Middlesbrough’s Clairville Stadium for a celebratory Smile Mile.
They will complete some of the venue’s final laps before the 51-year-old facility closes to make way for the new Middlesbrough Sports Village which is rapidly taking shape nearby.
The event on Thursday evening (October 23) is the culmination of a week of celebration which will see reduced admission to the track of £2 for the general public from Monday (October 20), with all proceeds going to local charities that are partners of the Runmiddlesbrough programme.
The Smile Mile event will take place on the track from 7.15pm, with the first lap due to be led by a veteran local athlete who attended the opening of Clairville Stadium in 1963.
The final lap bell will ring at 7.25pm as a reminder to those who have not already completed their Smile Mile run their final lap.
The veteran athlete will then carry a baton at the start of a final lap marking the move from Clairville to the new athletics facility at Middlesbrough’s Sports Village.
After 350m of the final lap the baton will be passed to a junior athlete who will run the closing 50m, and will also carry the baton on the first lap of the new track at its official opening event in the spring.
Clairville Stadium was officially opened on Friday, July 26, 1963 by the Duke of Edinburgh.
Over the next five decades the Stadium has played host to some of the world’s finest athletes as both a training and competition venue, as well as introducing countless schoolchildren from across the region to the joys of athletics.
Middlesbrough Mayor Ray Mallon said: “In its 51 years Clairville has provided many happy memories for generations of participants and spectators.
“It’s truly part of the fabric of Middlesbrough, and a well-known venue far beyond the town.
“As the curtain comes down on its great contribution to life on Teesside, it’s fitting that people of all ages should have a chance to share their memories of it, and to run the track for one last time.
“The Smile Mile will be a fitting tribute and a memorable send-off for a true local icon.”
- Members of the public can use the track at any time during opening hours next week: Monday 7.30am-8pm, Tuesday 7.30am-8pm, Wednesday 7.30am-8pm, Thursday 7.30am-8pm/Smile Mile event night) and Friday 7.30am-7pm.