Revamped route set to be quicker

Neil Bennett.
Neil Bennett.
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IT will be all change when the 2014 Run Sunderland Festival is staged on Sunday, May 4 from the Stadium of Light.

While the marathon has been dropped from the programme, the organisers have come up with a faster course for the half marathon.

The Sunderland City Half Marathon will follow a new route that will be mainly in the city centre and along the coastal road. It will use much of the Sunderland City 10k route, which is very accessible for spectators, designed to encourage even more people to lend their support to the runners.

Following feedback after last year’s events, there will be fewer twists and turns in the half marathon course, providing a good opportunity for distance runners from the North East and further afield to chase quick times.

Event organiser DS Media & Events has agreed with event partners Sunderland City Council and Sunderland Live to suspend the Marathon of the North for a year due to significant city centre development works. This will also allow options to be explored for developing the event in the future.

During the 2013 marathon and half marathon, the incorrect placement of marshals led to both the marathon and half marathon being short by 264 metres.

The organisers took full responsibility for the error and all runners in both races will be offered a 25 per cent discount from any of the events.

The standard entry cost for the Sunderland City Half Marathon is £32 and the cost to enter the Sunderland City 10k is £23.

Club runners can enter at the reduced prices of £30 and £21 respectively. In addition to the individual races, the Sunderland City Club Challenge will offer an opportunity for running and athletics clubs to win cash prizes.

To qualify, a club must enter a minimum of three competitors in each event and at least one of those three must be female.

The team with the lowest cumulative time from their best three performances in the 10k and half marathon (including at least one female in each event) will be crowned winners, with a prize of £500 (£200 for second team and £100 for the team that finishes third). This is a change from previous years, as then only one female counted.

Sunderland Harriers have won this competition every year since its inception three years ago. Last year the winning team was: 10k – Weynay Ghebrisalasie (32.51), Nathan Reed (34.17) and Amy Coulson (45.35). Half marathon – Mark Hood (1.11.06), Craig Isherwood (1.11.51). Marathon – Paul Redman 2.52.56.

Sunderland Harrier Mark Hood was the only runner to run the correct course from the half marathon and marathon last year.

He was out on his own, winning the half marathon in 71min. 07sec. A time under 70 minutes will be expected this time over the faster course.

The event organisers are expecting around 5,000 people to take part in the events, with thousands more lining the streets of Sunderland to support the runners.

For more information about the 2014 events and to book a race place visit

H Sunderland Stroller ultra distance runner Neil Bennett completed his toughest race at the weekend, a seven day extreme endurance event of 268 miles.

The Spine Race covers the Pennine Way and is regarded as Britain’s most brutal race.

Of the original 80 starters only 30 finished in conditions that were said, by the runners, to be tougher than last year’s snow and blizzards.

One competitor had to be rescued by helicopter from RAF Boulmer after getting into problems at a remote point on the Scotland-England border.