Marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe will make a return to distance running next year after confirming she will compete in the 2017 Sunderland City Half Marathon. News of Radcliffe’s participation came as she led a group of 50 runners, including north east marathon star Aly Dixon, for a ‘flash mob’ style 3k run from The Bridges Shopping Centre.
The Run Sunderland Festival, scheduled for Sunday 7 May 2017, includes both half marathon and 10k distances and will once again be under the direction of Events of the North, in partnership with Sunderland City Council and Active Sunderland. As with this year’s event, the festival is being sponsored by Siglion, which is currently carrying out major regeneration projects throughout the city.
Since the first festival in 2011, the Sunderland City 10K and, later, the half marathon have become firmly established on the north east calendar. May’s event drew a field of almost 4,000 runners (a 15% increase on 2015), and a new home at Keel Square.
This momentum looks certain to carry on to 2017 and the theme of next year’s event is ‘What’s going to make you do it?’ Those who enter either the half marathon or 10k are being encouraged to share their reasons for taking part to encourage more people to take up running. For the ‘flash mob’ who descended upon Sunderland earlier this week, the message was spelled out on their T-shirts – ‘Paula made me do it.’
On widening participation across the UK and confirming that she will be running in the half, Paula commented: “I'm looking forward to joining thousands of others on the start line of the Siglion Sunderland City Half Marathon in 2017. I've always enjoyed competing in the North East but have never run in the city. Although I'm not as competitive these days, I know how important motivation is and I'd like to encourage as many people as possible to find their own reason to come and join me at next year’s event.”
Early bird discount for the Run Sunderland Festival is available until midnight on Wednesday 30 November; registration up until this point is priced at £31 for the half (£29 for affiliated runners) and £22 (£20) for the 10k. Further details at the event website.