'Running mayor' to champion active travel in Wanstead Flats area

Forest Gate resident Mollie Millington on the go

Forest Gate resident Mollie Millington will champion running as a form of active travel and for sport and leisure in the Wanstead Flats area. - Credit: Mollie Millington

A personal trainer is on a mission to promote running as a form of active travel and a remedy for some of society’s biggest challenges.

Mollie Millington, an American national who has lived in Forest Gate for more than five years, has been appointed as the “running mayor” of Wanstead Flats by the RunSome campaign.

The 42-year-old part-time personal trainer and avid runner is part of a network of running mayors across the UK.

Mollie Millington with London Marathon medal

Mollie has completed numerous races in the UK and abroad, including the London Marathon. - Credit: Mollie Millington

They promote running for not only leisure and sport, but as a viable alternative to driving for short errands and everyday trips, advocating it as a practical way to improve mental health and reduce air pollution.

Mollie said: “I have a few ideas of what I would like to focus on for my community, but also am keen to learn what my neighbours need to run some of their local journeys.

“I hope to kickstart my efforts by increasing the number of new runners in my area to develop a local sense of community and encourage a healthier lifestyle.” 

As part of this, Mollie wants help to make running feel safer for women and more fun for families. 

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“I will encourage women to connect with other runners so they feel safe when out for a run,” she added. 

“For families, I am developing simple downloadable Bingo cards to help gamify running and make it more fun."

Mollie has completed numerous races in the UK and abroad, often taking part in community park runs before the pandemic and “run commuting” to central London for her full-time job at the Francis Crick Institute. 

The running mayors network is an initiative of the RunSome campaign.

Led by Runners World, Active Things and running brands and organisations, the campaign is urging the government to include running in its £2 billion active travel funding alongside walking and cycling.

With a quarter of a million people in the UK already running everyday journeys, RunSome wants to double that number within the next 12 months, while providing a timely boost to mental and physical health.

According to charity Sustrans, a quarter of UK journeys are a mile or less, while data from analytics company Inrix shows more than two-thirds of car trips in UK cities are less than three miles - highlighting the potential for many people to run more.