THE Cookstown Half Marathon Road Race will be one of the events included in the 2013 World Police and Fire Games which will take place next summer.
Hot on the heels of the Olympic Torch Relay, and following the Paralympic Flame Celebration coming up in August, the district will host the half marathon from August 1 to 10 next year
The announcement follows a ten day visit by the World Police and Fire Games Federation in April when every location was visited and matched against exacting suitability criteria.
The games hope to attract 25,000 visitors from over 70 countries including an estimated 10,000 competitors, plus 15,000 friends and family with a large influx expected from North and South America, Australia, New Zealand and mainland Europe.
It is hoped the event will generate at least £15m for the Northern Ireland economy. The organisers said they would also require 3,500 local volunteers to help host the event.
The concept of promoting sport and fraternity within the police and fire fighting communities began in 1967, with the staging of the first ever California Police Olympics. This concept grew and led to the establishment of the World Police and Fire Games Federation (WPFGF) in 1983, with the first event taking place in San Jose in 1985.
WPFGF is made up of serving and retired fire, police and prison officers from across the world. Their mission is to create community interaction and awareness, educate children on the benefits of sport, and develop camaraderie between members of the emergency services from around the world.
John Tully, Chief Executive of the 2013 WPFG said the Federation Directors were impressed by the range and quality of the facilities and share their confidence that Northern Ireland will deliver the most successful and the friendliest games ever.
Preferred sports venues are subject to further planning discussions with the governing bodies of sport, commercial negotiations with a view to securing value for money and contractual arrangements.
Caral Ni Chuilin, Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure said the games will be the biggest sporting event ever held in this part of Ireland.
“While this is a tremendous opportunity for tourism, there will also be other economic benefits for the areas hosting the 66 events over the ten days of the games,” she added.