A GROUP of Winchester people will be running to its twin town in Germany.

On August 23 the team will set off to run a relay to Giessen, more than 540 miles and taking in five countries in eight days. They start by going cross-country along the 100-plus miles of the South Downs Way.

The run mirrors that of last October when a group from Giessen ran a relay to Winchester.

The Winchester athletes aim to do it a day quicker. The youngest is 11 and the oldest 67, and at least two of the team will run at any one time.

The Mayor, Cllr Eleanor Bell, will start the relay from The Broadway at 7am on Friday.

The evening before the runners will have a pasta supper at the Italian restaurant ‘ASK’ on the High Street.

Already through sponsorship and donations the group expects to raise more than £3,000 for the Winchester Hospice appeal.

A contingent of the Giessen runners will run the last 20km, with a police escort due for the last 3km and the Mayor of Giessen will be at the finish line along with Winchester’s former mayor, Cllr Frank Pearson and his wife, Anne.

They are due to arrive at at 3pm on Friday August 30.

Lead organiser Adrian Haughton said: “It’s quite a logistical undertaking: from finding and booking overnight accommodation in just the right places; planning a safe running route; and working out which sections each runner will tackle. But we are confident that we will get there on time.”

Anyone wanting to see daily updates of the team’s progress can visit the website: http://run870.co.uk/ - where there is also an on-line opportunity to make donations.