BwD Running Mayor – the story so far

Six months ago Andrew Gardner volunteered to be the first BwD Running Mayor

We asked BwD Running Mayor Andrew Gardner to tell us about the last six months promoting the health benefits of running in Blackburn and Darwen. Running is beneficial to both your physical and mental health whether you’re everyday running to get from A to B, part of a running club or taking part in an event to raise money.

World’s first Running Mayors include Running Mayor of BwD | The Shuttle: Blackburn with Darwen Council News

Andrew is passionate about running – especially the mental health benefits – which is why he volunteered for this new role to help get BwD residents into the low cost activity:

“I’m just over six months into being BwD Running Mayor, and whilst the pandemic has made the personal element of the role tough, I have had some real highlights.

One of these is working with Sara from the Blackburn Children’s University and children of Sacred Heart, St Aidan’s, St Michael with St John, The Redeemer and Wensley fold schools.

The children were fantastic and on a lovely Zoom call they asked me lots of questions about running. We held a competition to create a ‘celebration mayoral running chain’ where the children all created and submitted ideas, with the best ideas and themes added to a final chain which I was presented alongside the winners and the real BwD Mayor Cllr Derek Hardman! A brilliant day…

BwD Mayor meets our Running Mayor | Blackburn with Darwen Connect (

I have been slightly side tracked these past couple of months as I set myself a running challenge to raise money for The Manchester Children’s Hospital (where our daughter was treated). I ran four marathons in 22 days (London, Manchester, Yorkshire and Liverpool) and we raised an incredible £10,500 which I could never have dreamt of. Our friends and family and the running community have done us, and the charity, proud.

Running Mayor’s triple marathon attempt | The Shuttle: Blackburn with Darwen Council News

So, what’s next?

I’m keen to try to do some further work with local schools to encourage running and the benefits of running (and walking) as a way of transportation.

I am also keen to talk to children and young people about the mental health benefits of running and being outside in general versus too much screen time.

I’m also keen to communicate my “cheer don’t jeer” strapline. As winter nights draw in, it takes more and more effort for people of all ages and abilities to jump up off the sofa and put their high viz on and go for a run in the cold and wet. You’d be amazed how powerful a cheer or a “go on pal, keep going” encourages and lifts all runners – whether it’s the last mile of a marathon, or a cold and wet training run in Darwen town centre, let’s get this going!”

You can contact the BwD Running Mayor on Twitter @AndyJGard and catch up on his running tips blog here: Running Mayor tips to get started | Blackburn with Darwen Connect (

Read the running diaries from Andrew’s running club friends:

Running for wellbeing – Tracy Davies | Blackburn with Darwen Connect (

Staying alive – a runner’s tale | Blackburn with Darwen Connect (

And there’s still time to sign up and train for the Blackburn 10K

Register now for the Blackburn 10k! | The Shuttle: Blackburn with Darwen Council News


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