The expanded festival of running saw the biggest turnout to date at the Siglion Sunderland City Runs as a record field of 4,500 participants were greeted with sunshine over the course of the weekend. Festivities kicked off on the evening of Saturday 11 May, followed by the ever popular Siglion Sunderland City Half Marathon and 10K on the following morning.
Runners at Saturday's Sunderland City 5K were given the honour of being the first in a mass participation event to use the new Northern Spire Bridge. Almost 600 people signed up for the run and after a very close race and sprint finish, Joshua Dack of Lothian RC claimed the first title in 15: 57, a fraction ahead of Tipton Harriers’ Nick Hardy in 15:58. Sam Beckett of Crook & District AC was third in 16:30.
Local team GB star Aly Dixon of Sunderland Strollers won the women’s race in 16:52, with Hazelle Webster-Costella of Jarrow and Hebburn AC in second in 19:51 and Sophie Mcphillips third in 20:19. For Aly, this was the first leg of a double header - along with many other participants, she had signed up to take on the Bridges Challenge by running the 5K and then either the 10K or Half Marathon the following morning.
Following hot on the heels of the new race, the 10K saw a bumper turnout of over 1860 runners, with Oliver James of Sunderland Harriers securing a comprehensive win in 31:32, followed by clubmate Liam Taylor in 33:13, while James Meader of Heaton Harriers claimed third in 33:22. The women’s race was won by Wendy Chapman of Sunderland Strollers in 39:22, with fellow Stroller Amy Callaghan second in 41:05 and Alexis Dodd third in 43:10.
5K winner Aly Dixon nearly managed an incredible double header, taking second in the Half Marathon in 1:20:31. She was unfortunate to come up against a superb performance by Phillipa Williams who was first (and ninth overall) in 1:16:40. Claire Mcmanus of North Shields Poly took third in 1:28:21. Stephen Jackson of Elvet Striders was the first male in 1:10:30, with Daniel Alexander of Gateshead Harriers second (1:10:40) and clubmate Conrad Franks third (1:10:57).
Event founder and race director Steve Cram comments: “It’s been a brilliant weekend of running in Sunderland. The Northern Spire Bridge was a spectacular setting for the first Sunderland City 5K and it was a wonderful sight to see hundreds of runners charging across it.
“Then the weather on Sunday morning was amazing – the sun brought out the biggest crowds of supporters we’ve had here, all around the course, and they created a fantastic atmosphere and inspired some excellent performances in all of the races. With four distances over the weekend, we now have runs for all ages and abilities, which is all set up very nicely to 2020, which will see the tenth year of the Sunderland City Runs.”