SUNDERLAND is to stage its own half marathon.
After the success of the Sunderland City 10k and Marathon of the North events on Wearside, next spring will also see the first Half Marathon of the North take place.
The Stadium of Light will once again be the start and finishing point for an expected 6,000 runners, with the three races taking in some of Sunderland’s best-known landmarks.
Business leaders are hailing the race as a major tourism coup for Sunderland, with thousands of runners expected to pound the pavements on Sunday, April 28.
About 1,700 people took part in this year’s Sunderland marathon, with more than 2,000 doing the 10k as many travelled from across the UK to get involved.
Organiser and former Olympic athlete Steve Cram was today unveiling plans for next year’s races at a press conference.
He will be joined at the launch by Richard Whitehead, one of the Team GB stars of this summer’s Paralympic Games in London, who set a world record in the T42 200m final.
Steve said: “Over the last two years, we have successfully established both the Sunderland City 10k and the Marathon of the North.
“After London 2012, the popularity of running has never been greater, with people up and down the country being inspired to take up the sport by the amazing achievements of Richard Whitehead and other athletes.
“So, I think this is the perfect time to introduce another high-quality event to the North East.
“The Half Marathon of the North will be the ideal event for any club runner in the north of England or southern Scotland who is looking for a spring road race to tackle.”
Steve added: “Experienced and novice runners alike should mark 28 April 2013 in their diaries now – it’s going to be another great occasion.”
Gary Hutchinson, chairman of the North East Chamber of Commerce (NECC) Sunderland Committee, said: “It is great that we will see a half marathon coming to Sunderland in 2013, another great event to help the city economy.
“Steve Cram and his team have worked very hard with the council to develop the programme to date, and a further event which is accessible to another market is a positive development for the concept.
“The NECC and the football club will support this move and I am sure the businesses and population of the city will get behind it and support.
“We need more events happening in Sunderland in future months and years to get visitors to see what we have to offer.”
l To enter the Marathon of the North, Half Marathon of the North or the Sunderland City 10k go to www.marathonofthenorth.co.uk