The British Grand Prix of Race Walking will be staged on the new cycle circuit at York Sport Village next year.
Part of European Athletics Race Walking Permit Meetings, it will add to the series of race walking events held across the continent in Switzerland, Slovakia, Portugal, Czech Republic, Lithuania, and Russia.
The meeting on Sunday 8 June 2014 will be one of the last major warm-up events for the top European race walkers ahead of the European Athletics Championships in Zurich in August.
The event will feature a Men’s and Women’s 20km as well as a Junior Men’s and Women’s 10km race.
Event Director Ian Richards said: “It is great that we can re-establish a European Race Walking Permit Meeting in the UK and build on the legacy of the 2007 European Cup in Leamington Spa and last year’s Olympic events that drew crowds of 50,000 people. We are also pleased that we can bring this competition to the fantastic new facilities here at York Sport Village.”
Yorkshire and York in particular has a long history of staging race walking events. The world’s first amateur race walking event was staged between Bradford’s George Hotel and the Windmill Hotel, on 31 May 1903 over a distance of 39 miles.
There will be a strong Yorkshire contingent in the race; including Jo Jackson the reigning Commonwealth champion and British record holder over 20km.
Joining her in the Women’s race will be Bethan Davies, who is based at the National Race Walking Centre in Leeds. In only her second year as a race walker, she made her Great Britain debut in the 2013 European Cup Race Walking in Slovakia, as well as setting numerous Welsh records.
Leeds Metropolitan University student Tom Bosworth has been one of Britain’s top two male walkers for the last four years and represented England in the 2010 Commonwealth Games and will compete in the men’s 20km.
Also stepping up to the distance in 2014 will be Jamie Higgins who finished 7th in this summer’s European Athletics Junior Championships in Rieti, Italy over 10km, the best finish by a British athlete in this event since 1987.
Andi Drake, Head Coach at the National Race Walking Centre in Leeds was glad to hear the news “It is fantastic for the best British walkers to be able to race against top level international competition on home soil.”