The event was just one of countless projects under the overall umbrella of Cityzens Giving for Recovery, a 12-month global initiative launched in June 2020 to help communities around the world to get back on their feet.
Mobilising CFG’s ten clubs, thousands of staff, players, coaches and millions of fans, the campaign has raised more than £1 million through donations from kind-hearted City fans and partners which CFG has matched pound for pound, seen over 10,000 hours of staff volunteering dedicated to local recovery-linked projects near to each of CFG’s clubs and supported over 100,000 people globally to date.
Overseen by CITC, Manchester City’s official foundation, the Blue Run challenged fans to complete a two, five or 10km challenge in their local area to help support the mental wellbeing of youngsters across Manchester.
More than £25,000 was raised in aid of CITC’s mental health programme, which helps to provide support for thousands of people aged 14 to 25 through specially adapted football sessions, one-to-one mentoring and group workshops.
One such participant was 70-year-old Peter Owen who completed a 10km run around his local area.
Keeping fit with regular activities such as walking football before the pandemic, Owen initially adapted to ‘the new normal’ by starting on the NHS Couch to 5k scheme to maintain his fitness.
However, he saw Blue Run as an opportunity to continue that lifestyle whilst also giving something back to both his community and a Club close to his heart.
Owen is no stranger to making a difference in his local community having been a member of Round Table, an association for men aged 18-45 aimed at empowering them to positively impact their work and home life as well as their local area.
He has also taken an active role in organising the Gatley Festival since 2015, which raises money for the community and brings the village together for a full weekend of events.
Owen admits he hadn’t initially planned to run 10km but, after being given guarantees by some of his friends that they would increase their donation based on the distance he ran, he saw it as an opportunity to further push himself and benefit others in equal measure.
“Come the day I was determined to achieve that goal (of 10km),” Owen recalled.
“I kept thinking of the communities CITC were supporting and mentally compared this minor struggle I was experiencing trying to run to what many of those people suffer every day and that kept me pushing on.
“At halfway the weather changed dramatically and I was battered by wind and by hailstones.
“Too committed now to give up, I pressed on thinking if I do make 10K my income should increase.
“And as I completed the 10k and posted the news on Facebook etc my donations kept going up and up and that made it all worthwhile.”
Owen was delighted by the motivational and financial support that he received during his successful completion of Blue Run but, according to his favourite anecdote from the experience, it didn’t save him from some gentle ridicule.
He recalled: “One of my sponsors, a lifelong friend couldn’t bring himself to say well done when he realised I had doubled his promised contribution per K ran.
“Instead, he chose to highlight my receding hairline in a photo where I was running in the hailstones. Ironically, he hasn’t got a hair on his head!”
For more information about Cityzens Giving for Recovery including project impact and volunteer stories, please visit www.mancity.com/cityzensgiving