Record number of athletes and fun runners pound pavements in Sunderland City Run

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A record number of athletes and fun runners pounded the pavements of Sunderland for this year’s instalment of The Sunderland City Run series of events.

It was the seventh annual event – starting and finishing in KeelSquare for the second time – and was divided into a children’s 3k, a 10k and half marathon.

And they're off! Some of the runners in today's Sunderland City race.

And they're off! Some of the runners in today's Sunderland City race.

Just over 2,500 runners took part in the 10k, with the half marathon making up the rest of the 4,000 athletes.

The women’s half marathon was won by Sunderland’s darling and Olympic athlete Aly Dixon, in a nail biting sprint against runner-up and marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe.

The children’s race had a bit of a false start, beginning about 20 minutes late after a car was found to be blocking the course.

However, once the shivering youngsters actually got over the start line they appeared to thaw out and enjoy themselves.

Event director and North East former athlete Allison Curbishley said: “This is the seventh Sunderland City 10k and half marathon and it’s our second here in Keel Square with our partners Siglion and we are just overwhelmed we’ve got 4,000 across the two events 10k and the half and the Paula factor has certainly helped – Paula Radcliffe running in the half marathon.

“This morning has been a long time in the planning and we have been really looking forward to it.

“We want to showcase this as a real events city and an events area.”

For Sunderland Mayor Alan Emerson, who started the three runs, it was particularly poignant as a number of participants were running as Team Emerson in memory of his late wife and mayoress Jan, who died suddenly last year.

He said: “It’s an honour to set these races away – it’s absolutely brilliant.

“It puts the city on the map so that people know who we are and where we are,

“It’s amazing to be here to see so many people enjoying themselves.

“The fun run for the children – we’ve just got to look at some of the children with really big smiles on their faces, really enjoying themselves.”