Torrential rain did nothing to dampen the atmosphere as thousands of runners took to the streets of Sunderland for the annual half marathon and 10k road races.
In a first in the event’s six-year history, the runners were sent on their way from Keel Square, which was rife with party atmosphere as participants were excitedly getting ready for the races.
Starting both events was Sunderland’s very own star athlete, Aly Dixon, fresh from finishing first at the London Marathon last week, which earned her a place competing at the Rio Olympics.
Aly told the Echo: “The weather is quite damp but everyone still seems to be in high spirits.
“It’s great to see 3,500 to 4,000 runners over the two events and it’s just great to see so many runners out here with a smile on their faces and enjoying themselves.
“I would love to the race because it’s right in my home town – it’s literally a mile from where I grew up – but I’m still recovering from the marathon last week and I’ve got another one in 14 weeks, so I’ve just got to be sensible and will be out here cheering them all on instead.”
I would love to the race because it’s right in my home town – it’s literally a mile from where I grew up – but I’m still recovering from the marathon last week and I’ve got another one in 14 weeks, so I’ve just got to be sensible and will be out here cheering them all on insteadOlympic runner Aly Dixon
Sunderland Mayor Barry Curran was among the spectators with his wife and mayoress Carol.
He said: “It’s fantastic we started off with the children’s race, and to see so many people here in Keel Square is great. It’s not the best of days – we could have had a day like yesterday, but it’s been wonderful this morning, absolutely fantastic. Well done everybody, particularly Steve Cram for organising this.”
Event spokesman Chris Lines said: “As you can see, we have a record number of people, who have signed up this year and the atmosphere is building really magically here on Keel Square, which is the new base for the event.
“We’ve got runners from all over the region and further afield, and with the new sponsor Siglion, we were able to bring it all close to the city centre this year and we are really exited.”