One of the greats of distance running has signed up for the 2017 Run Sunderland Festival. Paula Radcliffe will take part in the Siglion Sunderland City Half Marathon on Sunday 7 May next year, and today joined other runners to surprise shoppers in Sunderland with a ‘flash mob’ style run from The Bridges Shopping Centre. Along with North East marathon star Aly Dixon, Radcliffe led a group of 50 local runners on a 3K training route around the city centre.
The Siglion Sunderland City Half Marathon and 10K are being organised by Events of the North, in partnership with Sunderland City Council and Active Sunderland. For a second year, both races are being sponsored by Siglion, the development partnership which is carrying out major regeneration projects on the Vaux site and at other locations in the city. The 2017 events will also be sponsored by Totum Sport for the first time.
The theme of Run Sunderland in 2017 is “What’s going to make you do it?”. Everyone who enters the half marathon or 10K is being encouraged to share their reasons for taking part in the event, in order to encourage more people to take up running. For the 50 runners in Sunderland today, the message was spelled out on their t-shirts – “Paula made me do it”.
In an elite career that spanned two decades, Paula Radcliffe was one of the most successful female distance runners of all time, winning multiple races and medals. Radcliffe won the Great North Run twice and the London Marathon three times and secured a gold medal in the marathon at the World Athletics Championships in 2005. She still holds the marathon world record that she set in London in 2003. Since retiring from competitive athletics in 2015, Radcliffe has continued to be a prominent figure in the sport through her work in the media.
Paula Radcliffe comments: “I’m looking forward to joining thousands of others on the start line of the Siglion Sunderland City Half Marathon in 2017. I’ve always enjoyed competing in the North East but have never run in the city. Although I’m not as competitive these days, I know how important motivation is and I’d like to encourage as many people as possible to find their own reason to come and join me at next year’s event.”
Event founder Steve Cram adds: “Paula is one of the all-time greats of distance running and it’s a huge boost that she has agreed to run in the Siglion Sunderland City Half Marathon. Paula has been an inspiration to so many people and I am sure that runners in the North East will relish the opportunity to line up alongside her next May. However, although she may have retired from elite competition, I think that Paula will still be showing most of the field a clean pair of heels!”
Portfolio holder for Public Health, Wellness and Culture, Councillor John Kelly comments: “It’s fantastic to have an athlete of Paula’s calibre signing up for the half marathon. I’m sure her presence will be a great inspiration to others.”