Sunderland’s 10k and Half Marathon are set to be the biggest yet, with 4,000 runners to hit the city’s roads on Sunday.
The longer run, now in its fifth year, will feature three-time London Marathon champion Paula Radcliffe as well as the city’s own long-distance star Alyson Dixon.
The remaining competitors will take part in the 10k run, which was launched seven years ago, and now starts at Keel Square.
Its organisers and partners are delighted the event is growing each year - with Sunderland City Council to host a 3k event for youngsters for the first time - but all have their sights set on making it even bigger as time goes on.
Steve Cram, who founded and oversees the organisation of the event, said: “We know 4,000 people are taking part this weekend, which is more than we’ve had before.
“There’s a lot of people involved in this event, and we’re never going to be the Great North Run, but in terms of planning this event, it takes a lot of people, volunteers, we’ve got a lot of people out on the water stations, we’ve got 150 marshals out on the route.
It’s absolutely fantastic and a great event for our calendar that shows off the city to residents and visitors.Victoria French
“I don’t think people realise how much goes into it, but the city council and other partners have been great.
“There’s been a real running boom and it’s really interesting because when I started running around the streets of Jarrow, it was a bit odd, where as now, everybody runs and that’s great.
“There’s the Couch to 5k app and people get up to 5k and then they think, can I do a 10k, then a half marathon.”
The race will be started by Sunderland’s mayor, Coun Alan Emerson, and charity fundraising Colin Burgin-Plews, aka Big Pink Dress, who will wear his Sunderland AFC dress for the occasion.
Paula, who will fly in from commentating on a marathon event in Monza, Italy, to take part in the run, visited the city yesterday to show her support.
She, along with Mr Cram, Jonathan Edwards and Colin Jackson have been told they could lose their European records under proposals by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) because it does not hold samples from before 2005, so their results would not meet its new criteria.
Athletes affected have called on a rethink due to its unfairness.
Paula, who visited St Benedict’s Hospice, one of the event’s nominated charities, on her visit to the city, said: “I’ll taking in the atmosphere and helping other people, encouraging them along.
“If you’re still thinking about it, take the plunge.
“You could come along and watch to check it this year, but there will be people who do the 10k and then move on to the half marathon next year.”
Among those half marathon runners will be Victoria French, the council’s head of events.
She said; “It’s absolutely fantastic and a great event for our calendar that shows off the city to residents and visitors.
“They will see the new developments and it’s increasing year on year and it’s a lovely sporting addition to our cultural events.”
The event, which is backed by the Sunderland Echo, will see the 10k runners set off at 10am and the half marathon 25 minutes later.
For more information visit http://www.sunderlandcity10k.com/