LOVE was in the air as soap star Chris Chittell paid a Valentine’s Day visit to Sheffield.
But it was a passion for running, not romance, which brought him to the streets of the city centre in honour of the occasion.
The actor, who plays Eric Pollard in ITV’s Emmerdale, stationed himself outside Sheffield Town Hall for the official launch of the Bupa Great Yorkshire Run.
Around 1,000 people have already signed up to take part in the 10k race and junior events taking place in the city on September 29, but Chris was drafted in to help boost the number of entries even further.
Taking a leaf from Pollard’s book, the 64-year-old charmed passers-by dishing out red and white roses urging people to sign up.
Clad in lycra and his best running trainers, the unlikely heart-throb was quickly surrounded by an army of fans seizing the opportunity for a Valentine’s Day kiss.
Chris, who has completed the 10k three times since it began in 2007, said: “We’re trying to encapsulate the mood of the day and give them a bit of motivation to do the Great Yorkshire Run.
“I’ve done the Sheffield one before and I’ll be doing it this year. It’s a bit of a lumpy, bumpy route but there’s always a great atmosphere.
“If you’re thinking of doing it then now is the time to get signed up and start your training.
“It’s not about what time you do it in, it’s about enjoying it. I always think as long as I get to the end I’ll be happy.”
The 10k run starts and finishes on Arundel Gate in the city centre before heading out onto Penistone Road to Hillsborough Stadium and back, with live music to keep runners motivated.
Youngsters can also get involved, with the Bupa Junior and Mini Great Yorkshire Run taking place on the same day, with 1.5k and 2.5k distances to choose from.
Donna Baxter, 51, of Jordanthorpe, Sheffield, said: “I didn’t know Chris was going to be in Sheffield. I don’t think I’ll be doing the run but I do support it.
“I’ll be there on the day shouting for him.”
Pals and Emmerdale fans Megan Beresford, 18, and Emily Miremvani, 17, were inspired to take part after meeting their on-screen hero.
Megan said: “I’ve only ever done a run for breast cancer before, but I think we’ll give it a go. He’s 64, so if he can do it so can we.”
n Visit the website www.greatrun.org/yorkshire to register.