Thousands of runners take part in city races

A group of people with their medals
Both the Sunderland City 10k and Half Marathon sold out with more than 4,000 people signing up [Sunderland Strollers ]

Members of a running club say a city's races are helping boost its membership and encourage people to take up the sport.

More than 100 runners from Sunderland Strollers took part in the weekend's races in the city.

Both the Sunderland City 10k and Half Marathon sold out, with more than 4,000 people signing up.

Strollers chair Harry Harrison said the benefits of having such a big event on the club's doorstep were "simply huge".

A huge group of runners all wearing Sunderland Strollers bibs
More than 150 members of the Sunderland Strollers running club were involved, either as runners or marshals [Sunderland Strollers ]

"To be able to walk from your home, and take part in a huge running event with loads of support from your family and friends is fantastic," Mr Harrison said.

"We get recruits from it, because I think people see runners of all shapes and sizes and think well if they can run, I can too."

The first Sunderland City Run was held in 2011, with just more than 1,500 taking part.

Now one of the North East's largest running events, it includes a 3k, a 10k and a half marathon with all three distances going through the city and along the sea front.

Among the runners was Colin Burgin-Plews, a South Shields-based fundraiser known as Big Pink Dress, who signed up for the 10k despite a cancer diagnosis.

He has taken part in many events wearing eye-catching fancy dress.

Since he first took part in the Great North Run in 2014, he has raised more than £150,000 for North East charities.

A selfie shot of a group of runners
The first ever Sunderland 10k was held in 2011 [Kayleigh Pickersgill]

Mr Harrison hopes the message from the event is that anyone can run.

"We had two members running who are over 70, and in fact one of them won the 10k for that category," he said.

"It's never too late to start running and we welcome everyone."

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