One of the oldest running festivals in the region will in 2022 unleash an event that'll take road running in the bush to a new level.
Run each year since 2007, the Orange Running Festival will, for the first time, stage a mile event come March next year, organiser Anthony Daintith launching the 2022 event with the "exciting" news.
The festival will be run on March 5 and 6, 2022, and Mr Daintith is anticipating a COVID-free event will be possible in nine months time, although he admitted no one really knows what we'll face in the future.
No one knows that more than the Orange Running Festival, with the 2021 heavily impacted by restrictions - just three races were staged, the 2km dash and then two 6km runs for men and women - while the 2020 festival was held just a week before the initial wave of coronavirus impacted Australia's eastern seaboard.
Mr Daintith said planning for a full festival takes time, and launching the dates now and giving people time to plan was key to ensuring a bumper event.
Officials are expecting a participation level around the 1500 strong mark for 2022.
We think this mile run will really round out the festival. It's something different, and attracts a different type of runner.Orange Running Festival's Anthony Daintith
"The people we've talked to about the mile run are very excited ... we'll attract some good athletes with that event and they'll likely back up the next day as well and make a real weekend out of it," Mr Daintith said.
"In 2020, had we been a week later we wouldn't have been on. In 2021, as you know, it was a limited edition ... we're planning on being the full suite of events next year. Hopefully, we don't know, all of COVID may have sorted itself out.
"We're planning for a COVID free event. We're still quite some time out."
That full suite of events will include the traditional 2km dash for juniors on Saturday, with the new mile event (1600m) to be staged on Gosling Creek's new road surface on the Saturday too.
Sunday's schedule will include the 5km - which will double as the challenge run for businesses and schools - the 10km, the half marathon and marathon distances.
"We think this mile run will really round out the festival. It's something different, and attracts a different type of runner," Mr Daintith added.
Entries for the 2022 Orange Running Festival will open on September 1.
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