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  • Writer's pictureJurriaan Dupuis

Sunday’s 4 Mile Run Set to Inconvenience Groningen City Center For A Good Cause

Updated: Oct 4, 2023

This year’s edition of the Menzis 4 Mijl van Groningen running event is sure to disrupt the city center this Sunday, as people who are not taking part as runners or spectators will be unable to pass through the area easily. But the organization on the receiving end of the 4 Mijl’s Charity Run says the race’s benefits outweigh the cons.

The Menzis 4 Mijl van Groningen (Menzis 4 Mile of Groningen) is an annual running event which draws in tens of thousands of participants every year. Aptly named, the 4 Mijl sees participants cover a distance of four miles or 6.4 kilometers. Participants set off in Haren, a town just south of Groningen, and run north into the city along the Herestraat, before crossing the finish line on Vismarkt.

A staple of Groningen sporting events, the 4 Mijl takes over the city center every year, which can cause some hindrance for non-participants. Come Sunday, car and bicycle traffic will be barred from a number of streets, including Herestraat and Vismarkt, while pedestrians will find it difficult to make their way through the groups of spectators densely packed onto the sidewalks adjacent to the road course.

A typical day’s view of the unobstructed junction between Waagstraat/Herestraat (straight ahead) and Tussen Beide Markten (on the right), which leads to the Vismarkt. © The Groninger

But the 4 Mijl is more than an inconvenience for passersby and entertainment for participants and onlookers. The race includes a smaller group of runners who take part in the 4 Mijl Charity Run. These participants use their social networks to raise money and awareness for a local charity picked by the organizers. Proceeds from this year’s Charity Run will go towards the same cause as last year’s: the Jeugdfonds Sport & Cultuur (JFS&C; Youth Fund Sports & Culture).

Martina Haak-Snoek, coordinator of the JFS&C in Groningen, explains how the organization aims to provide children from poverty-stricken families with opportunities in sports or culture that might otherwise be out of reach.

The assistance offered by the JFS&C doesn’t come cheap. “Naturally, it costs money: membership fees, contributions for clothes or for renting a musical instrument, or for shoes, so that these children can participate in sports or other activities,” Martina says, “We’re always looking for extra money.”

The JFS&C helps children participate in sports and cultural activities.

Last year, the JSF&C received a check of €45,200 as the beneficiary of the Charity Run. Martina stresses the significance of the donation to the organization. “It’s an enormous sum of money,” she says, “We’re delighted with it.”

It remains to be seen whether a similar amount will be raised this year. Thankfully, donations are already coming in as FC Groningen and other local sports clubs have stepped in to help by collecting donations at their own events.

Moreover, spectators of the Charity Run will see a number of celebrities pass by, including former soccer star and local legend Arjen Robben and former speed skater Erben Wennemars, whose participation in the race will hopefully increase donations and awareness.

Setting the bar higher

Martina’s optimistic about the results. “It’s tough to predict,” she says, “but we’re hoping to exceed last year’s amount.”

As for the inconvenience, Martina doesn’t think it’s as big of an issue as some might think. “You can still make your way through the city,” she points out, “and it’s one afternoon a year.”

Sign-ups for this year’s 4 Mijl are closed, but Martina has some suggestions for anyone who attempts to pass through the area and runs into obstructions in the city on Sunday. “Take part in the activities! Cheer on the runners or register with the youth fund to help raise money for a good cause,” she recommends, “and mainly just have fun.”

And if that doesn’t help? Martina’s advice is simple: just wait for next year.

“Join the run!”

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