The Sunderland City Half Marathon and 10k race will both start and finish from Keel Square next year, organisers announced today.
The change comes after five years of the event being staged from the Stadium of Light, although most of the races’ routes will remain in place.
The 2016 runs, which are expected to attract 4,000 participants and will be sponsored by Siglion, will take place on Sunday, May 1.
Since the first Run Sunderland Festival in 2011, the Sunderland City 10K and, later, the half marathon have become firmly established on the North East sporting events calendar.
Steve Cram, whose company Events of the North organises the runs, said: “We’ve enjoyed five fantastic years based at the stadium, but have always been keen to bring the Run Sunderland Festival closer to the city centre.
“When Siglion stepped forward to get behind the event, we felt that this presented the ideal opportunity to do that and also use the races to showcase some of the exciting regeneration that is underway in Sunderland.
“Keel Square symbolises that renewal in its own right, but it is also next to the former Vaux site, where very exciting plans are in the pipeline.
“In an Olympic year, we’re looking forward to working closely with Siglion, Sunderland City Council and Active Sunderland to deliver the biggest and best Run Sunderland Festival to date and that process all starts here.”
The Marathon of the North, which took place in 2012 and 2013, remains off the bill. It was left off in 2014 and 2015 because of developments taking place around the city.
Aly Dixon, a Sunderland Stroller and one of the UK’s leading long distance runners, who has won both the Sunderland City 10K (twice) and Sunderland City Half Marathon, added: “It’s great that the Run Sunderland events have grown over the years and continue to improve and I’m very proud to have been involved in them.
“We have a great history of running here in Sunderland and having races like these bang in the centre of the city is a fantastic way of showcasing not only the top guys at the front, but also the huge running community right throughout the field.
“Next year is an Olympic year and I’m sure that will inspire all to make these races to be the biggest and best yet.”
Siglion, a partnership between Carillion and Sunderland City Council, managed by igloo Regeneration, is currently carrying out major regeneration projects at five locations in the city, including a phased redevelopment of the nearby former Vaux Brewery site.
Coun John Kelly, Sunderland City Council’s Portfolio Holder for Public Health, Wellness and Culture, said: “As the city council has always said, with its commitment to bring investment and more big events across the whole city, creating Keel Square was about a new landmark to welcome people into the heart of Sunderland.
“This news about the square being the start and finish of the half marathon is exactly what we set out to do with Keel Square – it’s a place to meet, greet, a great location for events, and a landmark we can all be proud of. I’m sure there’ll be a great turn-out of both participants and spectators.
“The award winning Keel Square is a wonderful and fitting venue to continue offering opportunities for people to be involved with events organised between the city council and its partners as part of the city’s approach to an increasingly active Sunderland.”
John Seager, Siglion’s chief executive, added: “Events such as the Siglion Sunderland City Half Marathon and Siglion Sunderland City 10K, alongside initiatives like the City of Culture bid, contribute to the vibrancy of the city. Bringing the events to Keel Square helps us to demonstrate to runners and spectators alike that this is the start of what Sunderland will look like in the future.”
Entries open in November
‘Early bird’ entry fees for both the half marathon and the 10K are available until midnight on Monday, November 30.
Runners affiliated to a club can enter the half marathon for £29, with the price for unaffiliated runners is £31.
The early bird prices for the 10K are £20 and £22 respectively.
From Tuesday, December 1, the entry prices for the half marathon will be £32/£34 and for the 10K they will be £23/£25.
There will be prizes for leading runners in several categories and all finishers of each race will receive a medal, technical t-shirt and goody bag.
Early next year, organisers will announce details of the popular Start Me Up for Sunderland sessions and other activities designed to get runners to the start line, fit and ready to go.
For more information visit www.sunderlandcity10k.com.