The bright lights of Sunderland

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HUNDREDS of runners lit up the dark tonight for a race with a difference.

Almost 1,800 people donned their brightest outfits to take part in the Neon Run around Herrington Country Park.

The Neon Run on Herrington Country Park, Sunderland on Saturday night.

The Neon Run on Herrington Country Park, Sunderland on Saturday night.

Already a successful event across Australia and South America, the Neon Run made its British debut in Sunderland after it was chosen, alongside Leeds, as host for the first UK Neon Runs.

And, everyone taking part was having a ball with a massive party atmosphere and a music concert feel.

There were lasters, strobes, dancers and DJs and fun-runners made their way along a 5km route around the dark park.

Participants were all given LED sound-activated flash bands and a T-shirt to wear, with most adding lots of extras to their outfits, such as glow sticks, neon wigs and fluorescent tutus and colouring their faces with luminous paint.

One of the organisers, Karen Matthews, said she was delighted with the turn-out.

She said: “I think it has been popular because it is a really different sort of event.

“We have a huge age range, from children about seven or eight-years-old to people in their 60s.”

Karen said the plan is to bring the event back to Britain next year, hosting it at many more venues around the country.

Although some of those taking part were using the race as a chance to raise sponsorship money for charity, for most it was just a really fun evening.

Among those joining in the party was a team of eight staff from Sunderland’s Alex Smiles Waste Management company.

Kevin Cobb, 58, one of the group, said: “We just thought it would be a good laugh, it’s something very different.”

Ashley Robertson, a 23-year-old beauty therapist, took along seven of her friends from South Shields after winning the tickets in a radio competition.

She said: “We are having a really good time. We are going to stay dressed up and go out for the night after the run.”

The event was brought to the city by Sunderland Live, who teamed up with race organisers Sport 3 Event Management UK. Entry costs were £30 per individual or £27 per person as part of a group of four or more.