Olympic champion Sally Gunnell set to fire the starting gun at the Run Sunderland Festival

Sally Gunnell

Sally Gunnell

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AN Olympic gold medallist will be calling starter’s orders at the Run Sunderland Festival.

Sally Gunnell will be kicking off the Junior Run and the 10k this weekend, which will also see the first Marathon of the North.

Click here to see the list of marathon road closures.

The 10K, Junior Run and Marathon of the North will all start at The Stadium of Light as part of the Run Sunderland Festival.

Former 400m hurdler Sally, who won the gold medal in the Barcelona Olympic Games in 1992, is excited to be in Sunderland for the first Marathon of the North.

Sally said: “It’s great that it’s a whole weekend of running rather than just one morning of it.

“So many people are getting into running and getting inspired by it and of course it’s a chance to raise money for charity.

“That’s what’s so good about it. Running has changed so many people’s lives.”

Sally will be in Sunderland during the whole weekend, offering tips and advice for youngsters eager to take their first steps into running.

Sally said: “We’re trying to encourage people to take up running a bit more. We will be on the look out for any young talent as well and if we do, we can hopefully show them the right direction to go in.

“It’s always lovely to play a major role in the whole weekend. It’s an honour.”

Sally was keen to emphasise the health impact running could have on Wearside.

“For so many people with health problems, exercise and running can really help you. You hope that by having events here you can inspire the people of Sunderland, that they will love it and carry it on.”

She added; “I came up to watch a Sunderland match with Steve Cram and had a great night. I’m looking forward to being there for the weekend and feeling the buzz in the city.”

The athlete has a few tips for people taking part in events.

“For the kids’ race, it’s all about having some fun and enjoying the day. When it comes to the marathon, don’t go off too fast.

“It’s easy to get carried away.

“Respect the distance, drink plenty of fluids and get plenty of carbs in beforehand.”

Steve Cram, founder of the Marathon of the North and Sunderland City 10k, added: “I’m delighted that Sally is joining us – she’s one of Britain’s all-time great athletes and her enthusiasm for the sport is bound to have a positive effect on people she meets up here in the North East.”

People can meet Sally at the Stadium of Light this weekend at the McCain Track and Field Roadshow at the Run Sunderland Festival.

For more information on how to get involved in athletics, visit www.mccaintrackandfield.co.uk

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