THE Bradford fires still burn bright in Chile.

Former Saltaire Strider and Airedale Athletics coach Hardy Matamala revealed: "I found my vocation from the response I got from runners in Bradford."

After five years in Yorkshire, Matamala returned to Vina del Mar – the seaside resort of Chilean capital Santiago – to set up a running business modelled on what he had seen in the UK.

This weekend he takes part in the Buenos Aires half-marathon, alongside a dozen members from his 70-strong club.

Your correspondent gatecrashed a 14K race over much of the half-marathon course on Sunday.

The circuitous route started from near the River Plate stadium, site of the World Cup final win by Argentina in 1978. The nine-mile course was entirely through the extensive parklands and gardens that run from the old docks to the plush northern suburbs.

Almost every weekend a major race takes place on the closed but wide park roads. The 14K drew several thousand for an 8am start.

Rosedal gardens has a daily stream of walkers, runners and roller-bladers. Training groups do strengthening exercises and drills on the lawns. Running is clearly a mass sport for the Argentinian middle classes.

Park-based training, common in many cities worldwide, is what Matamala brought from Bradford to Chile.

The weekly PARK RUN at Lister Park (or Skipton's Aireville Park or Crow Nest Park, Dewsbury) offers a mini-Buenos Aires experience.

Free 5K runs each Saturday at 9am are a perfect entry point to the sport or to those training for the BRADFORD CITY RUNS on Sunday, October 26.

For more serious runners and prospective coaches, enrolment is taking place for a 14-week programme until Christmas, starting on September 8.

Monday gym-based strength and conditioning sessions (Bradford Grammar School, Manningham) and Wednesday drills and speed work on the track (UAK school, Keighley) are offered.

Runners register for either Mondays or Wednesdays, each from 7-8.45pm (block of 14), or both (28 sessions).

Men running 10K in 36 minutes or quicker, or women under 42 minutes, can register with a sub-group of a dozen on the Wednesday evenings, convened by Will Kerr and coached by Brian Scobie.