THE biggest Sheffield Half Marathon was a scorching success - with organisers saying the event is set to raise a record sum for worthy causes.
In total, 5,792 runners braved the heat yesterday - including some sweltering in fancy dress - to run the 13-mile course from the Don Valley Stadium to Hunters Bar and back - up from 5,500 last year as changes to the route have allowed more runners to enter.
Participants included snooker star Steve Davis, while veteran Sheffield fundraiser John Burkhill pushed his pram around the route filling a large bucket with donations for charity Macmillan Cancer Support.
There were also soldiers in uniform carrying heavy kit - and numerous sprightly pensioners.
Margaret Lilley, organising committee chairman, said: “This is the first year the capacity has been raised above the old 5,500 limit and we almost reached capacity again. It’s a record turnout and I certainly hope that will be reflected in a record sum of money raised once it all comes in.
“Last year, £110,000 was given away to good causes.”
Margaret said preparations for the race had taken into account the warm weather, with extra water bowsers installed on Bramall Lane and an additional sponge station.
However, ambulance crews had to deal with cases of heat exhaustion, although nobody was seriously injured.
Former snooker world champion Davis, 54, was one of 16 supporters of the Paul Hunter Foundation - set up in memory of the late snooker star - to run the half marathon.
After finishing in a time of two hours, 42 minutes, Davis said: “It was very tiring. I last did a half marathon when I was 40 and that was 14 years ago so this was much harder. I’m pleased to have finished.”
The group, which also included members of Hunter’s family, hopes to raise £20,000 for the foundation from the race and other activities over the last six months.
Mr Burkhill, who was out on the course with his trademark green wig and pram, finished in about three and a quarter hours - with his Macmillan nurses collection bucket getting so heavy by the time he finished it weighed several kilos.
He said: “It’s been great - and it wasn’t bad to make it around with such a heavy bucket and a 70-year-old pram.”
One of the oldest runners was Allan Bamford, aged 74, of South Anston, a member of Sheffield Running Club, who finished in one hour 57 minutes.
He said: “I have been running in events locally since I did the Sheffield full marathon in 1984. I’m slower than I used to be but still enjoy it. We had 42 of our 110 members take part which is a pretty good turnout.”
Mark Jelbert, aged 30, who lives in the city centre, was among a group running in memory of Mathew Hook, 28, who was killed in a road accident while cycling at Carr Top on the A621 last September as he trained for a triathlon
Mark and Mathew were best friends from Sheffield Hallam University and used to run the half marathon together. Mark was joined by seven of Mathew’s former colleagues from Aviva insurance and the group have raised £1,800 for Oxfam, which Mathew supported.
Mark said: “I’d run the half marathon with him every year since 2006 and we did the London Marathon together as well in 2009. I just wanted to run it this year in his memory.”
Chris Hook, Mathew’s dad, said: “It’s fantastic Mark and the Aviva group have raised so much money, Mathew would have been staggered.”
John Figiel, 46, was drenched in sweat having run the distance dressed in costume as comic and film character Iron Man, in support of the Royal National Lifeboat Institute.
He said: “I managed it in one hour and 50 minutes, which was a bit slower than usual, but that’s with the costume and the heat.
“I’ve come from Great Yarmouth, but am staying with friends in Wadsley. It’s the first time I’ve done the Sheffield Half Marathon.
“Around the course there was brilliant support from members of the public who lined the route and cheered everyone on. I think it kept people going in the heat.”
Others were just taking part for the fun or it - and the chance to support worthwhile causes.
Sheffield University student Laura Curran, aged 20, from Crookes, running for British Heart Foundation, raised £200.
She said: “I’ve never done an event like this before and the longest run I did in training was seven miles, but I managed it OK and it was a great feeling to have finished.”