Wigan Warriors have joined forces with organisers of the inaugural Run Wigan Festival to offer a special reward for competitors.
For as well as receiving a medal for their efforts, participants can have free entry to Warriors’ Super League match against Huddersfield Giants on the same day.
There will also be a discounted rate for supporters wishing to attend the match at the DW Stadium.
Race organiser Matt Johnson, from charity Joining Jack, and Kris Radlinski, general manager at Wigan Warriors, decided to do something after discovering the races and match were on the same day, Sunday, March 19.
Mr Johnson described it as “an incredibly kind gesture” from the Wigan club.
He told the Observer: “We agreed to make it a big sporting day for Wigan.
“We wanted to extend it and get people to run, walk or jog one of the three events, get a medal, enjoy the European food markets and the bands, and make their way down to the stadium to watch the Super League game free of charge.”
The Run Wigan Festival will see three races held in the town centre, covering one mile, 5km and a half marathon.
It is the first time the event has been held and follows the success of the popular Wigan 10k, which was held in September 2016 for the fourth year running.
Mr Johnson said Wigan Warriors had been “very supportive” of Joining Jack, which was founded in honour of his nephew, eight-year-old Jack Johnson, who has Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
Jack’s dad Andy Johnson played nearly 100 first team games for the club.
Members of Warriors’ first team handed out water to runners in this year’s 10k as they went along to the athletics track at Robin Park next to the DW Stadium.
It is hoped free entry to the match will encourage more people to join the hundreds of runners who have already entered the races.
Mr Johnson said the offer could attract runners who may not have been to a rugby league match before.
He added: “They are two independent events but we can support each other and increase the profile for Wigan at the same time.
“Hopefully it will help people in the town who might be attracted to their first Warriors game or who haven’t been for a while, but it might also attract people who have never been to a Super League game from out of town.
“I think it’s nice added value to runners. It becomes really attractive for people and might also be an incentive for people to take up running, especially when people are looking to get fit in the New Year, it might get them motivated.”
Warriors’ marketing director Simon Collinson said: “Sunday, March 19 promises to be a great day for the town of Wigan. The inaugural Run Wigan Festival will be a fantastic occasion and our game against Huddersfield Giants later in the day will see the celebrations carry on as we host all of the runners that have taken part.
“The game against Huddersfield, our first of two on a Sunday this year, will be a huge family fun day with lots going on in and around the ground.
“It’s great to see so many runners already signed up and we very much look forward to hosting them down at the DW Stadium.”
To take part in Run Wigan Festival or find out more, go to runwiganfestivals.co.uk.