Tall Ships youngsters get on-board with Steve Cram for Sunderland's 10K and half marathon

Sunderland's annual road races will be shipshape and Bristol fashion next year.

As the city gears up to host the Tall Ships race, a group of young sail trainees, who have ambitions to join a crew, will be taking part in the Run Sunderland Festival's 10K race as part of their preparations.

John Seagar (left) and Coun John Kelly have Steve Cram and the Tall Ships ambassadors under starter's orders

John Seagar (left) and Coun John Kelly have Steve Cram and the Tall Ships ambassadors under starter's orders

Some of them joined Steve Cram, of organiser Events of the North, to launch the eighth festival, which will take place on Sunday, May 13. The firm has provided free places in the race for up to 20 trainees.

Fifteen-year-old Harton Academy pupils Becky Small and Caitlin Buddy are both thrilled to be taking part in the Tall Ships race - but a little apprehensive at the prospect of the run.

Both have had experience of sailing before.

"We haven't really started our training for the Tall Ships Race yet," said Caitlin.

Tall Ships race ambassadors including Caitlin Buddy and Becky Small (second and third left)

Tall Ships race ambassadors including Caitlin Buddy and Becky Small (second and third left)

"We're on a week's holiday at the moment but we'll be starting before Christmas.

"But I've never really done any running, I am not going to lie."

Becky said sailing training had been a brilliant experience: "It was all about learning to work with other people, learning to work as part of a team," she said.

Siglion, the development partnership which is carrying out major regeneration projects on the Vaux site and at other locations across the city, will again sponsor both races and has extended its support for an additional three years.

Steve Cram at today's launch

Steve Cram at today's launch

The festival is being organised in partnership between Events of the North, Sunderland City Council and Active Sunderland.

The Siglion Sunderland City Half Marathon and 10K will start and finish in Keel Square, so runners and spectators will be able to see for themselves the latest developments in the area, including the recently laid Keel Line.

The extension of Siglion’s sponsorship will allow Events of the North to develop new ideas for showcasing the city centre to visitors and ensuring that all runners and spectators experience a rewarding and enjoyable day in Sunderland

Steve Cram said: "2018 will be our third year based at Keel Square and it has been fantastic to witness the ongoing transformation of the site. The Siglion Sunderland City Half Marathon and 10K offer a brilliant opportunity to share some of the most exciting developments taking place in the city with both local residents and a wider audience.

"We look forward to working closely with Siglion and Sunderland City Council to make sure that we make this event better every year. Sunderland is a really vibrant and ambitious city and has a lot of very exciting plans in the pipeline. The Run Sunderland Festival intends to be at the heart of those.”

Siglion CEO John Seager added: "Siglion is delighted to reaffirm its commitment to Run Sunderland, by extending our sponsorship until 2021, when hopefully the city will have been crowned UK City of Culture.

"This event is fast establishing itself as one of the great UK city centre sporting events and gains in popularity every year, reflecting what is happening elsewhere in the city with increased development and exciting new businesses arriving every day.

"I would urge all runners, both keen and enthusiastic participant, to sign-up and sample one of the best race-day atmospheres going and pit themselves against a course that takes in a host of Wearside’s many wonders."

Sunderland City Council Portfolio Holder for Public Health, Wellness and Culture Councillor John Kelly, adds: "Our city has a lot to look forward to, and the growing popularity of the Run Sunderland Festival is a fantastic example of what has been, and can be achieved, when we all work to promote what Sunderland has to offer in hosting top class sporting and cultural events.

"My thanks to all our partners helping us to stage these events, and showcase Sunderland as a city with an exciting future in which everyone is invited to play their part."

Events of the North is offering a discount on entry fees for both races until midnight on Thursday, November 30. Runners affiliated to a club can enter the half marathon for £29, while the price for unaffiliated runners is £31.

The early bird prices for the 10K are £20 and £22 respectively.

From Thursday, December 1, the entry prices for the half marathon will be £33/£35, and for the 10K £23/£25.

For more information about the 2017 events and to book a place on one of them visit www.sunderlandcity10k.com.