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The NFU is challenging thousands of rural residents to put on their running shoes and come to London to join international bare-foot star Zola Budd-Pieterse on a fun run past some of the city's top tourist attractions to raise money for farmers suffering in the foot and mouth crisis.

Funds raised by entrants in the Countryside Team in the 10km British Open Road Race on July 22 will go to the NFU's "Supporting Farmers in Crisis" Fund for rural communities that have been devastated by the disease.

Anybody can enter the race, which will include the razz matazz of ceremonial bands along a Union Jack-bedecked route, stretching from the Hard Rock Café on Piccadilly to St Paul's Cathedral and finishing on the Embankment opposite the London Eye.

NFU President Ben Gill said: "This will give everybody a chance to leg it for farmers. It's being run over a distance that many could walk in two hours and I hope lots of people will join in the fun to help farmers, who are facing one of the gravest times in the industry's history."

South African-born teenage long-distance star Zola Budd -Pieterse, who represented Britain in the 1984 Olympics, said: "I am looking forward to running on behalf of rural charities to help these farmers."

Several other celebrities, including stalwart countryside defender Clarrisa Dickson, who will fire the starting gun, will join her.

People who want to run in the race should call the Race Hotline on 01538 703333 and ask for the Countryside Team form.

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