With 7,000 runners entering Sunday’s Leeds Half Marathon, the event celebrated its biggest field in its three-decade history and cemented its reputation as one of the UK’s most popular races. Tesfaye Debele followed up his success at the Asda Foundation Leeds 10K with another victory in the city, coming home in 1:08:26.
The course started in the Headrow and took competitors out of the city centre along Meanwood Road and Stonegate Road to the Ring Road. It was then down Butcher Hill and Hawksworth Road returning to the city centre via Abbey Road and Kirkstall Road and across the finish line in Cookridge Street, alongside the showpiece Millennium Square.
Among those who took part in the event, organised since 2012 by Jane Tomlinson’s Run For All, was England Rugby Union coach Stuart Lancaster, who achieved his aim of breaking 2 hours. Stuart, who finished in a time of 1:57: 27, said: “It was tough, but I really enjoyed it. The support was amazing and I’m so pleased I managed to break the two hour mark.”
At the front of the field, 20-year-old Debele scored a convincing victory, coming almost four minutes ahead of Matthew John (1:12:18), with Josh Ridley in third position (1:14:08). In the women’s competition, Pauline Munro took top spot in 1:19:41. John Johnson, from Garforth, Leeds, was the oldest competitor in the field at 85 years old and finished in 2:29:40.
Last year’s half marathon raised a record-breaking £150,000 for partner charities and tens of thousands of pounds more were raised by runners taking part for other good causes of their choice. The 2014 event is expected to be equally successful.
Entries are now open for 2015’s Leeds Half Marathon which takes place on Sunday 10 May. Anyone entering before 00:01 on Tuesday 13 May can do so for the early bird price of £24 - a saving of up to £8 on the usual fee.