All set for milestone marathon

editorial image

Don Valley Stadium is on the last lap - but not before it hosts another Sheffield half marathon.

Sunday sees the focus firmly on the event, which has started and finished at the stadium since 1991, when it was relocated from Hillsborough Park to coincide with the World Student Games (although there was a year-off from Don Valley because of Supertram construction).

It has grown not only to be a staple of the city’s sports calendar, with elite and club runners testing themselves over 13.1 miles between Attercliffe and Hunters Bar, but also a chance for many fun runners to take to the streets and to raise money for a good cause.

Margaret Lilley, who has been involved in the organisation for 27 years, said: “It’s a fantastic atmosphere. There are a lot of faces you see coming back year after year. The aim is to get everybody out and back safely. There are lots of compliments afterwards.”

The event started as a full marathon and half marathon, but struggled to attract competitors over 26 miles.

“We couldn’t justify the disturbance to the city of the people taking part in full marathon so we decided to concentrate on the half marathon, which was good,” said Margaret, a schools administrator from Swallownest. “Since then numbers have trebled.”

The capacity was raised three years ago from 7,500 to 10,000, once ways were found around bottlenecks such as roundabouts and underpasses.

This year it looks as though there will be 7,000 competitors. One day it is hoped to hit 10,000. Certainly, runners should not be deterred by Sheffield’s reputation for hills.

The route for the SIG Insulation Sheffield half marathon is flatter than the one in Leeds, for example. “People perceive Sheffield to be a hilly route, but it runs along the valley bottom.”

In the meantime, Margaret highlights the large sums of money raised for charity - £175,000 last year.

Official charities for 2013 are Myasthenia Gravis Association, St Luke’s Hospice, Multiple Sclerosis Therapy Centre South Yorkshire, Sheffield Wildlife Trust, Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice, Support Dogs, Breast Cancer Care, the Children’s Hospital Charity, Safe at Last and the Sheffield Academy of Young Leaders.

Margaret said: “I love the event. Every year, as the gun goes off and the runners are cheered off, it makes the hairs on my neck stand up.”

Drinks stations are at Fred Mulley Road, Bramall Lane, Cemetery Road, Ecclesall Road, Effingham Street, Brightside Lane and Don Valley Stadium.

The half marathon is followed by the 3k Fun Run, which starts at 9.10am.