THE starting pistol has been fired on next year’s running extravaganza in Sunderland.
Olympic medallist and former world record holder Steve Cram yesterday officially launched the first ever Marathon of the North, which will be held on May 6, 2012.
The only road marathon taking place in the North East, it will be on the same day as the second Sunderland City 10k.
The weekend will also feature live music and other entertainment for the crowds and runners.
Steve said that, with the 2012 London Olympics less than a year away, it was a hope of his that a marathon could be arranged for Sunderland.
“It was always the plan to build on the 10k and expand it for the people to take part in.
“It’s a big year for sport in the UK and we want to be part of that.
“Part of the reason we wanted to call it the Marathon of the North, is so that people from as far down as Leeds and York might want get involved.”
Team GB runner Alyson Dixon, of Silksworth, said: “It’s really good to get something like that back up and running in Sunderland.”
The Chester-le-Street Athletics Club member added: “It’s happening during marathon season too, so maybe those people who haven’t got into the London Marathon might see it as an option.”
Sunderland Council leader Paul Watson believes the run will be one of the standout events on Wearside next year, and can boost tourism by attracting runners from across the country.
He said: “The Marathon of the North and the Sunderland City 10k will form part of a whole running festival weekend in Sunderland, which promises to be a wonderful occasion for residents, competitors and visitors.”
Routes for both races are being finalised by organisers.