The Run Sunderland Festival witnessed record entry levels of almost 4,000, a 15% increase on last year, as the event celebrated its new home at Keel Square, a symbol of the city’s regeneration. Sunday’s (1 May) events, which included a 10k and half marathon, were both started by Mayor of Sunderland, Barry Curran, and local runner Aly Dixon, a week after she secured her place at the Rio Olympic Games.
Organised by Events of the North in partnership with Sunderland City Council and Sunderland Live, the Run Sunderland Festival has become firmly established in the North East calendar since its first staging in 2011.
Despite chilly and damp conditions, a series of exceptionally fast times were recorded, with Morpeth Harriers’ Jonny Taylor leading the 10k field home in 29:56, followed by Wondiye Fikre (31:08) and Taylor’s club mate, Ross Floyd (32:29). In the women’s competition, Justina Heslop continued her fine form of late to win convincingly in 35:48, with Sharon Barlow (37:20) second and Rhiannon Silson of Border Harriers (37:29) third.
It proved to be a successful day for Elswick Harriers as Heslop’s clubmate (and husband), Tadele Mulugeta, secured top place in the half marathon in 70:23, followed by Conrad Franks of Gateshead Harriers (72:33) and Luke Adams of South Shields Harriers (72:51). Gateshead Harrier Michelle Nolan won the women’s race in 82:22, with Rachel Barnes of Heaton Harriers (89:34) in second and Debra Crozier (90:53) third.
Event founder and race director Steve Cram commented: “It’s been an excellent day of running in Sunderland. Bringing the Siglion Sunderland City Half Marathon and 10K closer to the city centre has worked really well and Keel Square has proved itself to be an excellent base for big events like this. Once again, the weather added to the challenge for runners and spectators, but they all rose to it brilliantly.”
“With a sub 30 minute winner in the 10K, we know that the new course is fast, and the half marathon also produced some great performances. We’re hugely grateful to our sponsors and all of our fantastic volunteers who helped make the Run Sunderland Festival possible – once again, they did a brilliant job.”