THERE was a festival atmosphere at a running event hosted in Verwood for Sport Relief at the weekend.

Verwood Arts and Leisure Amenities hosted three races at the recreation ground at Potterne Park, including runs across 10km, three miles and one mile.

The charity’s general manager Jacqui Sainsbury said the day had been a huge success and estimated more than 500 people had participated, raising thousands of pounds for the appeal.

“It was truly a great atmosphere with lots of families taking part and enjoying themselves,” she added.

“There were people playing football on one of the pitches, walkers strolling around and our hundreds of runners.”

The picturesque spot, which has 12 acres of recreational space, now hosts the event every year and is growing in popularity.

“It is becoming a much anticipated annual event,” said Jacqui.

“This year we had an aerobics instructor helping everybody warm up before the runners started. It was a wonderful sight.”

Jacqui also heaped praise on her namesake Jackie Smith, a gym instructor who has led the organisation of the event for the last two years, and said it could not have happened without her.

The races in Verwood were one of many fundraising efforts across the area, with youngsters and adults throughout Dorset donning trainers and sportswear to take part in a plethora of sporting-based activities for the cause.

The television charity marathon raised £51.2million on the night, in a show which featured David Beckham starring in an Only Fools and Horses special and footballers answering questions on Mastermind.