OLYMPIAN Sally Gunnell has championed a new race launched to raise funds for Cumbria's Herdwick sheep farmers.

The Herdwick 10k, being held on July 6, is to support the farmers whose methods shape the iconic landscape of the Lake District.

Recent recipients of a grant from the Princes Countryside Fund, Taste Cumbria has worked with the Great Langdale Road Races to set up the event, from which profits will be returned to the Herdwick Sheep Breeders' Association.

Sally Gunnell OBE, who was born and raised on her parents farm, knows only too well the value of farming to the landscape, and has offered her best wishes to all taking part.

She said:  “My first hurdles were haystacks as I ran by my father’s tractor on our farm. The Herdwick 10k will be a fantastic event, it’s all about getting exercise and having fun. I am a patron for the Princes Countryside Fund and believe the investment in this project is invaluable.

"Run, walk, jog or even hop for a wonderful cause – farming is very close to my heart and the Herdwick farmers need our support.”

Mary Houston, Taste Cumbria Manager, said: "Langdale is the heart of herdwick country, so what better place to raise awareness about this wonderful, unique sheep breed than on their home turf.

"Cumbria would not have the landscape it so famously boasts if the Herdwick wasn't farmed on our fells. It is a heritage that we need to support and encourage, and the funds raised by this run will offer a real, tangible benefit to the Herdwick Sheep Breeders Association.

"The life of a Herdwick farmer is harsh, and we need to do all we can to continue this valuable way of life - valuable to residents, food, tourism and the economy." Held in the Langdale Valley, it is hoped that nearly 500 runners will be racing under the steely gaze of some of Cumbria's 50,000 Herdwick sheep poised on the hills and fells, and fancy dress is, of course, optional."

Every entrant who completes the course will receive a prize from the Herdy Company, and to ensure it is a great family day out, there will be local food, traders and entertainment.

The following day, Chapel Stile hosts the famous Langdale Gala, which features many, traditional sporting events including children's flat races, Cumberland and Westmorland Wrestling and much more. There will also be a pet show, fancy dress for the little ones, craft stalls, music, and food and drink.

Entry to the race costs £12-15 which also includes entry to the traditional Langdale Gala the following day. The race is also suitable for wheelchairs and buggies.

For more information and to enter the race, please visit http://greatlangdaleroadraces.co.uk/herdwick-10k/