The Backwards Running Championships took place in Heaton Park on Sunday, raising much needed cash for Forever Manchester. Daniel Alston reports back on the day…

Imagine the scene: You’re walking your dog in the local park on a typically casual Sunday morning, surveying the lake and enjoying the peacefulness. Your dog’s ears prick up and from around the corner emerge a small herd of runners. Backwards, coming towards you in reverse. A truly surreal sight.

The UK Backwards Running Championships arrived at Heaton Park on Sunday 14th August, sponsored by Forever Manchester. As well as the national race, there was also the opportunity for anyone and everyone willing to take part in the Fun Run, all in the name of raising funds for the charity.

A well-marshaled 1km circuit was laid out and the assembled crowd set off at their respective paces after a coached warm-up. An incline and a low dip had to be navigated amidst the meandering park path – not exactly easy when running normally. All runners completed the route, with some setting personal best times and others achieving great first attempt times. The event raised a load of cash for Forever Manchester – we’re still adding up the exact amount so we’ll be announcing that soon. In addition, no injuries were reported, which is always a bonus.

Backwards running is no gimmick or joke. It is a sport that is slowly beginning to gain wider recognition, with those involved calling for it to grow and be a featured event at the 2020 Olympics. UK and World Champion, Garrett Doherty spoke of many of the advantages of the sport.

“People really loved it and they’re keen to try it again. It’s just the stigma of going outside and giving it a go on your own. It’s great for your confidence, your co-ordination and your balance.”

“Five minutes backwards is the same as twenty forwards; it’s ideal for busy people. It can cure obesity, it can cure addictions like smoking because it gets you out of your routine. Everything has an opposite. Which is more stupid; to go forwards all of the time, or to go backwards some of the time?”

A good question indeed. For more information on backwards running, visit www.reverserunning.com

Words: Daniel Alston

Visitors to Heaton Park on August 14th may think they’ve wandered into some weird Rewind Twilight Zone where everything’s in reverse.

But never fear; it’s just 250 or so loons taking part in the UK Backward Run. Or nuR drawkcaB KU, if we’re being clever about it. Why? Because running backwards is so much more fun than running forwards. AND you look really, really cool while you’re doing it. Just try it.

And of course we love the UK Backward Run all the more because it’s raising lots of lovely money for Forever Manchester. All entrants are asked to raise a minimum of £20 for Forever Manchester – but of course we’d be thrilled if you want to raise more.

On the day there’ll be a one mile backward race, as well as a more leisurely Fun Run – so whether you’re a superfit backwards running pro, or you’re more comfortable with a backward stroll, there are races and runs for all abilities.

And apparently, you burn a third more calories running backwards as you do running forwards. Hurrah!

There is a t-shirt and medal for all participants, and there will also be a special prize for the fundraiser who raises the most money for Forever Manchester.

The charity run is limited to 250 entrants so enter now to avoid disappointment.

If you would like to find out more and register to take part, please email Terry Snowden (terry@communityfoundation.co.uk) with details of your team or register online by visiting the Backward Running website.

Oh, and check out Danielle Sharp’s great account of last year’s run to find out a bit more about what you’ll be letting yourself in for.

See you at Heaton Park, and good luck!

UK Backward Run, Heaton Park, Sunday 14th August 2011