Meet the team delivering Beat the Street Barnsley!

Nat Jackson (left) with Claire Barnes from Barnsley Council at the launch of Beat The Street Barnsley

Barnsley’s Beat the Street challenge is now go for the second time! The game started on 10th June for six weeks with the aim of getting residents of all ages and abilities to ditch the car and to get active!

The game is funded by Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council, Sport England and the National Lottery, and is being delivered by Intelligent Health with support from Totally Runable.

Barnsley played the game in the summer of 2019 when 25,363 participants together walked, cycled, wheeled, and run a total of 144,810.5 miles. Now the game is back for 2021 and even bigger and better!

Totally Runable co-founder Natalie Jackson worked with local organisations, community groups and schools to sign up as many people as possible before the game got underway on Thursday 10th June.

The game’s ethos matches Totally Runable’s goals perfectly as it is accessible to all, fun and enables players to break barriers and get more out of life.

Natalie is a qualified lawyer and former director of a Law Firm in York who turned to running in 2011 when she decided that she would take part in the London Marathon for the first time.

She first heard about the Beat the Street games at a symposium at Loughborough University about running in schools where creator and founder Dr William Bird was one of the speakers.

She said: “It sounded so fun and something I’d never seen before. The idea of taking over a town and turning it into a game and having fun with it sounded amazing. Then out of the blue, several years later, we happened to hear it was coming to Barnsley on the morning of the launch of the game in 2019, so we went along in our running gear.

“As most people were in suits and we were in our kit, we ended up being in the promo photos which was fun and I think that was what got us involved and caught our imagination. We asked what we could do to help and got involved with presenting in school assemblies, guided walks and did some school visits. We also got involved in the celebration event and visited schools to present prizes and certificates.

“It was so much fun! I’ve never been involved in anything that’s had such a universally positive response from everyone; schools, children, teachers, and parents. When you walk around the town, you’re constantly seeing someone with their card or fob near a Beat Box and it always starts a conversation. Even if it’s raining, it motivates you to get outside and score some points. It’s a lovely reason to be more active and more sociable.”

Now the game is back, Natalie’s ambition is for more people to sign up and to go even further.

She said: “I would love to see every school in Barnsley involved. We signed up 78 out of 80 last time and we’d love every school to get involved this time. Within that, would love to empower the head teachers and PE coordinators and support them to them engage their own school communities no matter what demographic or what size the school. Beat the Street is such a brilliant tool for schools to use to get pupils more active.

“This year too, we will be encouraging players to visit the Trans Pennine trail as they play the game which is somewhere I love to ride or walk along as it’s traffic free and a really nice addition to the Beat the Street map. Also, the parks in Barnsley are just brilliant.”

Natalie already tries to walk and run around Barnsley and adds: “Where the rules are relaxing, we have tried to challenge ourselves to think a bit differently about the way you do things.”

Once the game comes to an end on 22nd July, Natalie’s next challenge will be completing a 150km run in one week across the whole of Yorkshire.


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