Hertfordshire LEP is delighted to sponsor Your Town, a Community Interest Company (CIC) created to support and grow local communities with a uniquely personal brand that people can identify with. Its mission is simple: ‘to bring local people together and connect with the places in which they live’.

It all began in 2011 when founder Mark White had the idea for a running event that started and finished in his home town of Hoddesdon. It was here that Your Town opened its first street office in 2015, holding weekly running and walking clubs. In 2017, it piloted ‘Get Togethers’ in three Hertfordshire towns comprising run, walk and bike rides for up to 100 participants at a time.

During the summer of 2017, it launched its ‘Give Your School the Run Around’ programme, with 10 local primary schools taking part in activities to raise awareness on health, well-being and community, and culminating in a grand finale hosted by a local secondary school.

Eight years since the initial idea, and now with major partners and sponsors to advocate on the brand's behalf, its founder is about to embark on his biggest challenge to date: a back to back marathon over two days linking towns across Hertfordshire.

Mark, accompanied by well-wishers and a film crew, will set off on Tuesday 18th June and run from Waltham Cross to Hoddesdon, Hertford and Stevenage, spanning a total distance of 39 km. The next day, Mark will run from Hatfield to St Albans, Hemel and finish in Watford, covering a distance of 37 km. A Hertfordshire LEP member will be joining him on parts of his journey.

Read Mark’s blog below and see how it all began.

So much more than a run!

Your Town Run Across Hertfordshire from Your Town on Vimeo.

It all began in our home town of Hoddesdon six years ago with “Give Your Town The Run Around”. From day one we have had so much interest in our model and what it represents from towns across the UK. Every conversation, every meeting, every town visited, everything we have seen and felt over the years has gone into creating something that lent itself to more places, more easily.

If we ever did have opportunities to grow and impact other towns and communities, we didn’t want it to lose its energy around locality which is very important to us. Local people and local places, supporting local projects/causes and showcasing the power of communities getting together is what we are all about.

We have always suggested we are more than a run!

We have done well in Hoddesdon, and now with our “Get Together” model, we feel we have a really great opportunity for others to be part of the Your Town community: a social gathering in town a few times a year, not just to run but also to walk or cycle.

This year, Rushden Town & Higham Ferrers were the first to take on a Your Town franchise. They had their first sold out run in March and recently hosted a sold out 2k kids run with 250 taking part, with another run soon to go live in October. We are really proud to announce another six towns are joining the Your Town Community, including Hatfield, Hemel Hempstead, Watford, Waltham Cross, Stevenage and Hertford.

The journey over the past few years has been incredible with many highs and many lows. We are still here pushing hard, and with the belief and support of others along the way, we are as passionate as ever to keep cracking on to build on what has been achieved over the years.

We are so proud to be working with the several organisations across the towns; they truly are amazing people who are so passionate about the work they do and really want to use this opportunity to do more and connect in new ways.

We are excited to announce our partners North Hertfordshire Hospital Trust (Stevenage), Dacorum Council/DENS Homeless charity (Hemel Hempstead) , Hertford House Hotel (Hertford), CHEXS Children’s Charity (Waltham Cross) & Watford Housing Trust (Watford).

Also a huge thank you to local supporters and sponsors of Your Town which include Ocado, Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce, Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, The Herts Sports Partnership and Volker Wessels.

So one of the ways we are going to connect towns and communities together and shout about what is happening is though 'Mark’s Run across Hertfordshire’…

Over two days (18th & 19th June), I will be running through all of the towns listed above, stopping at each one to refuel. The total journey will be approximately 76k (which is a back to back marathon). We are meeting our partners in each town and handing over a Your Town flag… a bit like when you visit the moon but without the moon!

Approximate run pace is 6.30 per km. It needs to be mentioned, I have never run a marathon so two in two days is a huge effort. The approximate pace is steady and hopefully realistic.

Our intention is to make this a great couple of days connecting the towns and communities, which is something we have always been passionate about.

Your Town will be filming so it would be great opportunity showcase the next steps for Your Town.

Follow Mark's progress and tweet your words of support using: @yourtown #townsmatter @HertsLEP

Visit www.yourtown.community.com.