A RUNNING group has come under fire as it plans to hand out INVISIBLE medals to race finishers to make it more “sustainable”.

Leigh-on-Sea Striders have been awarding medals to runners for the last 11 years, but have now announced it is taking more of a sustainable approach and ditching the prize for the next 10k event in January.

The club say the “unique medals will be invisible” and plan to give out vouchers instead.

But one runner, who wants to remain anonymous, feels a medal is a key part of a race.

They said: “The idea of being more sustainable I think is good, but runners, like me, do love a medal.

“One thing I would like to put out there is whether they could possibly do an environmentally friendly one, I think that would be a good middle ground.”

Dean Ovel, the men’s captain for the club and co-organiser of Leigh 10k, said they wanted to give runners something to keep.

He said: “Rather than the medals, which are manufactured from metal, they are made in China with shipping, we’ve gone away from that, controversially.

“We want to give all the runners something that will firstly be worthwhile to them, something rather they hang on a wall or just stick in a box, we’re hoping to give a voucher for our partner RunActive, so they have something to spend in the shop or online.”

A statement from Leigh-on-Sea Striders added: “After 11 years of running this event, we are taking a more sustainable approach and among many other aspects, our unique medals will be invisible, instead we will have something a little more useable for everyone who crosses the line.”

The next race will be held on January 2. It was originally due to take place in October, but it had been pushed back due to the pandemic.

This year the group will be supporting two charities, Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) and the Southend Hospital Trust – Oncology and Stroke Dept.

By doing this 10k race every year, Leigh-on-Sea Striders have raised well over £30,000 for a number of charities.