Meet the 11 Wearside superheroes taking part in the 2020 Sunderland City Runs

Eleven ‘Sunderland Superheroes’ from all walks of life have assembled to encourage the public to get involved in the 10th anniversary of a major festival of running on Wearside.

Monday, 6th January 2020, 1:05 pm
Updated Tuesday, 7th January 2020, 3:07 pm

More than 5,000 runners are expected to take part in the 2020 Sunderland City Runs as the event celebrates its 10th anniversary.

Kicking off with the Sunderland City 5K on the evening of Saturday, May 9, the 5K route includes the iconic Northern Spire Bridge, providing a spectacular venue for runners and spectators alike.

The following morning, Sunday May 10, will see thousands of runners take part in the well-established Sunderland City Half Marathon and 10K, and the Active Sunderland BIG 3K.

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Colin Burgin-Plews joins the other 'Sunderland Superheroes', Sandra Dormand, Darren Tate, Dominic Lavelle, Scott Baker, Michelle and Paul Mustard, George Harden and Marie Brett at the launch of the 10th Sunderland City run event.

All three events will start and finish in Keel Square in the city centre.

In the run-up to the event athletics aces Aly Dixon and Steve Cram have been on the lookout for superheroes to sign up for the 2020 Sunderland City Runs.

And now the 11 inspirational individuals have been revealed, with the group coming together for the first time on Monday, January 6, at the The Grand Hotel, in Sunderland.

Nominated by members of the public towards the end of last year, the Sunderland Superheroes include charity fundraisers, grass roots athletics volunteers, and people who have continued to run despite having to also battle conditions such as multiple sclerosis or cancer.

Colin Burgin-Plews (left) right Karen Dobson (Grand Hotel Seaburn) Steve Cram (right) with Superhero runners Sandra Dormand, Darren Tate, Dominic Lavelle, Scott Baker, Michelle and Paul Mustard, George Harden and Marie Brett at the launch of the 10th Sunderland City run event.

Each superhero has been given a free place at one of the Sunderland City Run events, organised by Events of the North in partnership with Sunderland City Council.

At the meeting they were played a video message from the North East’s own ‘Wonder Woman’, World record holder Aly Dixon, who is currently training in Kenya.

And in her absence, Colin Burgin-Plews – also known as the Big Pink Dress – transformed into Big Pink Wonder Woman for the occasion.

Colin has been chosen as one of the Sunderland Superheroes and will take part in the event to raise funds for St Benedict’s Hospice once again.

Sunderland Superhero Scott Baker at the launch of the 10th Sunderland City run event.

He has battled back from heart problems after becoming unwell in 2019 and is now returning to his beloved charity work.

He said: “I love the Sunderland run, it’s one of my favourites.

“When I was told I heart problem my first thought was that what if I can’t do the Big Pink Dress anymore and raise money.

“But I am 100% back in the game now and will be doing the London Marathon and this event the week after.

Sunderland Superhero Marie Brett at the launch of the 10th Sunderland City run event.

“For this one I am going to get as many people to dress as superheroes.”

Dominic Lavelle,31, has also been selected as one of the Sunderland Superheroes, after being nominated by his wife.

He suffers from multiple sclerosis and has undergone gruelling treatment, but still manages to take part in running events to raise funds for the MS Society and plans to do the same again in Sunderland in May.

He said: “Ten years ago I was diagnosed with MS so found exercise a struggle.

“A few year’s back I became quite poorly and underwent chemotheraphy treatment and since that I have a renewed vigour of energy.

“Over the past year I have started running and took part in different races and found that it really does help with MS.

Colin Burgin-Plews at the launch of the 10th Sunderland City run event.

“Now I want to show people that anything like that shouldn’t stop you.”

Event founder Steve Cram said: “From the day we launched the first Sunderland City Run event, we have always focused on encouraging more people to get involved in running.

“Throughout my time as an athlete, coach, commentator and fan, I have always known how much good running does for physical and mental health and we want to get that message out to as many people as possible.

“Our Sunderland Superheroes all have brilliant stories that showcase how running can transform lives and we’ll work together to share those and inspire more people to join us on the starting lines on 9 and 10 May.”

As well as taking part in either the Sunderland City 5K, 10K or Half Marathon, the Sunderland Superheroes will help to promote the events to the North East public, pushing the message that there is a run suitable for everyone and supporting the city council’s Step Up campaign and a series of free Start Me Up For Sunderland training events, starting on Wednesday, January 29.

Places on the 2020 Sunderland City Runs are available now at www.sunderlandcity10k.com

Those who enter a Sunderland City Run event can sign up to the SMUFS sessions by emailing [email protected]

Meet the Sunderland Superheroes:

Dominic Lavelle – Despite his diagnosis with multiple sclerosis, the 31-year-old hasn’t let his condition hold him back and has still managed to run in aid of the MS Society. June Hindmarch – June is 72 and has only been running for a couple of years, but her enthusiasm for the sport as an older runner is infectious and inspirational to all who know her. Scott Baker – Last year, Scott finished an epic challenge of completing 1,000 10K runs in 1,000 days, raising money for Target Ovarian Cancer in the process. Sandra Dormand – Sandra has fought cancer twice and in January 2019 joined a beginners’ course at Sunderland Strollers. Darren Tate – Darren is a keen athlete who spends most of his running time working with the GoodGym initiative to help others, and is also in the process of setting up a community interest company called Suitability that will help men find employment by offering them free interview clothing and advice. George Harden - George is from Washington and has been part of the North East’s running community for longer than most people can remember, giving up his own time to coach runners of all ages and volunteer at a huge variety of events, week in week out. Deb Howell-Smith – Deb supported a close friend who had gone through treatment for cancer, helping her to get active and fit again by building up to Sunderland City Run events in 2019. Michelle and Paul Mustard – Michelle and Paul lead the Silky Striders, a Sunderland based running group for beginners, which has many members who have battled back from a wide variety of illnesses. Colin Burgin-Plews – known as the Big Pink Dress – Colin is a North East charity fundraising legend, who has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for good causes in recent years. Stephanie Hutchinson – Stephanie is integral to the success of Big Pink Dress, helping Colin with his fundraising, dress preparation and race planning.

Sunderland Superhero Sandra Dormand at the launch of the 10th Sunderland City run event.
Sunderland Superhero George Harden at the launch of the 10th Sunderland City run event.
Sunderland Superhero Dominic Lavelle at the launch of the 10th Sunderland City run event.
Sunderland Superhero Michelle Mustard at the launch of the 10th Sunderland City run event.
Sunderland Superhero Paul Mustard at the launch of the 10th Sunderland City run event.
Sunderland Superhero Darren Tait at the launch of the 10th Sunderland City run event.