RUNNERS are being encouraged to don trainers and hit the road in memory of a man whose sudden death two years ago shocked the community.

Derek Hurden was a stalwart of the St Neots Riverside Runners and loving father to three daughters when he collapsed following a training run while at home in February 2008.

On March 20, to mark the second anniversary of his death, close friend and fellow runner Keith Ritchie has organised a nine mile road race entitled Hurden Nine.

Mr Ritchie, 45 of Longsands Road said: “Derek was one of the fittest blokes you could meet.

“He went training one evening with the club, sat down, had his dinner, and died. The doctors think he had some sort of irregular heart-beat he did not know about.

“He was a junior coach at the club and he was very well liked by the juniors. He spent a lot of time with the club. His daughters are all members of the club and they are still training.

“I have been organising some events and I wanted to name an event after Derek as a memorial for him.”

Mr Ritchie, who has been a keen runner for 23 years, set up the NiceTri triathlon club in October. The nine mile run will start and finish in Millennium Green, Offord and will take participants through Great Paxton, Toseland, and Gravely.

A donation of £1 from all entry fees will be made to the British Heart Foundation. Hopes are to attract 500 entrants and raise £500 for the charity.

Mr Ritchie said: “It is an unusual distance, but people like things different. There will be no goals to achieve, just a chance to go out and run.

“The route is 'undulating.' It takes in Great Paxton hill, which is quite a steep hill and is bound to sort the men from the boys.”

INFORMATION: To enter the race go to www.nicetri.co.uk or email Keith@nicetri.co.uk.