It was a long way – almost 10,000 miles to be precise – from the Sunshine Coast in Australia where Sam Mallinder usually runs.
But a chilly Sheffield and its new look half marathon was the place to be yesterday for thousands of runners of every age, all with different reasons for taking part.
For mum Sam, who grew up in Crosspool, it was time to raise cash for Sheffield Children’s Hospital Charity.
“It took a long time to get here – and it’s a little bit colder!” said 41-year-old Sam as she shivered in the Peace Gardens before the run got under way.
“My sister was in and out of the hospital and when my mum had twins one had muscular dystrophy so we needed the hospital again – sadly he died when he was four months old.
“It was easy to pick a charity because we had so much help from them.
“I’ve raised about $1,000 which is lovely because I’ve had so many donations from Australians, it shows their spirit in getting behind something they are not going to benefit from.”
Former World Cup referee Howard Webb and current world welterweight champion Kell Brook joined the 7,000 runners.
Kell, who posed with a young fan for a selfie photograph at the start line, was also running for the Children’s Hospital team.
He wished runners ‘all the luck in the world’ and said it was a ‘great day’.
Asked if he thought he would get round, he answered: “I’ll have to!”
Yesterday was the debut of the new-look Plusnet Yorkshire Half Marathon Sheffield, organised by Jane Tomlinson’s Run for All.
Last year’s race turned to chaos when it was cancelled due to lack of water and the voluntary organisers later stepped down.
This year’s race was hitch-free – except for a slight delay at the start because of two parked cars on the route!
“I know it was a bit of a disaster last year,” said Joel Littler, 18, running with a team of Sheffield University medical students for St Luke’s Hospice.
“But I’ve done different half marathons before and it was nothing like this – they’ve even got a massage tent.”
Roads across Sheffield were shut to allow the run to take place, some from 4am, while buses were diverted and extra trams laid on.
Sheffield city centre was buzzing from 8.30am – the streets a riot of colourful running clothes and fancy dress, from people dressed as superheroes to shoes and a Bradfield Brewery beer bottle to Scooby Doo.
Justin Pryce, 23, of Sharrow, was in a team wearing ears to promote city charity All Ears, which raises awareness of tinnitus and hearing protection.
Volunteer Justin said: “This is the first time we’ve done the half marathon, we haven’t done much training though! I think we will finish but I don’t think we will be very fast.”
The runners made their way from Arundel Gate and heading towards Ecclesall Road then out to Ringinglow for country views, before returning.
Bringing up the rear was legendary MacMillan fundraiser and grandad John Burkhill who high-fived spectators as he walked past with his familiar pram and collection bucket.
He had joked he ‘should be finished in time for the 10 o’clock news’.
The first runner to cross the finish line outside Sheffield Town Hall was Hallamshire Harrier Dave Archer in one hour, 13 minutes.
Some runners had said they were ‘nervous’ about the new route and its incline.
Debbie Green, of Parson Cross, who ran with pals Ja Dring and Jayne Cheshire, said: “It was tough going up to the Norfolk Arms in Ringinglow but we managed it – it was hard with the wind too!
“The best bit was the crowds , they were going wild to keep us going and handing out lots of Jelly Babies.”