Hoisting heavy oak tree logs on your shoulder and charging up and down hills in London’s Hyde Park is one way of having fun and gaining outdoor fitness, but it was also all in a good cause when a group of runners put their backs into it this month.

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The good cause was the annual Poppy Day Appeal, which raises funds for ex-Servicemen and women and their families – and the sporting event was the launch of a new cross-country mud and obstacle running series named The Royal British Legion Major Series.

The Major series, as it was previously known, has teamed up with Britain’s biggest Armed Forces charity, the Royal British Legion (organisers of the Poppy Day Appeal), to create the fun new event, whose 2016 programme kicks off in March.

Produced and delivered by British Military Fitness (BMF), Britain’s biggest supplier of outdoor fitness programmes, the series is a 5km and 10km event, designed to broaden your fitness. It’s also all about fun and at every run, the Chief Officer in Charge, ’The Major’, a moustachioed, uniformed figurehead, supervises arrangements on event day. poppy 1

Race Director Alex Stanley, who’s also Head of Events at BMF, explained: “The Royal British Legion Major Series is accessible and ideal for all ages and abilities. Our runners are aged 17-70 … and 55 per cent of people who take part are female. Anyone can take part.

“Our 5km course, with 15-20 obstacles, is ideal for entry-level first-timers and participants with a wide range of fitness levels. Our 10km course features 30+ obstacles and is a bigger challenge.”

More than 20,000 runners are expected to take part in the fun-and-friendly event, with seven runs planned across the UK, starting in The Midlands on Saturday, March 12.

For more information, check out www.majorseries.com and the dates so far announced are:

Midlands: Saturday, 12 March 2016. Venue: Ragley Hall, Alcester, Warwickshire, B49 5NJ.

North: Sunday, 20 March 2016 . Venue: Bramham Park, Leeds, W. Yorkshire, LS23 6LT.

South: Saturday, 9 April 2016. Venue: Eridge Park, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN3 9HS.

Scotland: Saturday, 4 June 2016. Venue: Cardross Estate, Port of Menteith, Stirlingshire, FK8 3JY.