Shape up with the stars ahead of Sunderland half-marathon

Alyson Dixon.
Alyson Dixon.
Have your say

Wearsiders can shape up with the stars ahead of a marathon challenge.

Sunderland AFC striker Duncan Watmore, BBC’s The Apprentice star Katie Bulmer-Cooke and international athlete Alyson Dixon will join sporting legend Steve Cram to help runners get in shape ahead of next year’s Sunderland City Half Marathon and 10K events.

Organisers have confirmed the popular ‘Start Me Up For Sunderland’ fitness sessions are returning and will have a VIP presence.

The first hour-long session will take place at the Stadium of Light on Tuesday from 6.30pm, when 35 people will be put through their paces by qualified running guides, former 1,500m world champion Cram along with Katie Bulmer-Cooke, a successful personal trainer, and Sunderland Strollers member Alyson Dixon.

Duncan Watmore will also be on hand to encourage those taking part and to chat about his footballing rise to fame with the Black Cats.

Chris Lines, a member of the Events of the North team, which is organising the 2016 Siglion Sunderland City Half Marathon and 10K, said: “The sessions are aimed at those wanting help to run or those wanting to challenge themselves.

“We want to get more people in and around Sunderland to get fit, active and healthy. These sessions will get them on the right path in a way that is really accessible and enjoyable.

“Some people are daunted by the idea of running so with the sessions they can have a go at it with like-minded others in the hands of qualified coaches.”

During Tuesday’s session, all running will be done within the stadium’s vicinity with the stand stairs set to feature frequently.

All those taking part will also receive a free T-shirt. Places are free, but limited, and offered on a first come first served basis.

To sign up, email

Mr Lines added: “The Bridges is a partner in this initiative and we’re aiming to hold the next SMUFS session there, with others to be hosted at Sunderland’s leisure facilities and, hopefully, by Siglion.

“It’s first come first served on a session by session basis.”

The dates for future sessions are yet to be confirmed, but they will take place on a regular basis between 
now and the runs on May 1, 2016.

Start Me Up For Sunderland was introduced at the earlier this year and is designed for anyone who wants to lead a more active lifestyle, but doesn’t know where to start. Runners can get fit through a combination of mentoring, easy group runs with qualified coaches and training tips.

For more information about the 2016 Siglion Sunderland City Half Marathon and 10K and to book a place on one of the events visit