One week to go: check out the astonishing success story of Sheffield Half Marathon and why it’s attracting 7,500 men and women

If there is an appetite for any sporting event on Sheffield's cafe/restaurant-lined Ecclesall Road, it's the half marathon.

By Bob Westerdale
Saturday, 06 April, 2019, 23:00
Sheffield Half Marathon 2017: Steve Bayton fastest man to win it ever woth 1 hour nine minutes and 25 seconds

The crowds love to get behind competitors in the annual event, ever since it was re-vamped to take in the city's prestige dining-out road and smart suburbs.

The change of direction - the race was once a full marathon and headed in the direction of Sheffield Wednesday's ground instead of Ecclesall, Ringinglow and Bents Green - has proved to be, well, a recipe for success.

Last year no fewer than 6,700 men and women pounded the streets.

This year there will be around 7,500.

That will be their biggest entry yet - and is now set to overtake Leeds half marathon in size.

At its heart Sunday’s Sheffield Half Marathon will be three things:

* A challenging 13-mile (21.09 km) sporting event which attracts athletes and clubs from all over the country

* An event to raise hundreds of thousands of pounds for great charities like St Luke's and Cavendish Cancer Care

* And a colourful, fun day out in which Sheffielders can proudly show off their city and wear crazy costumes.

It is also an opportunity for 400 volunteers to selflessy give their services for the day to the Race, the city and what they both stand for.

Sheffield Half Marathon 2018 fastest woman Nicola Squires

Every good story needs a hero - and they are never in short supply on the day.

Runners cover the full spectrum, from nervous first-timers to established, veteran Running Club members - with Steel City Striders, particularly keen participants.

They are aged from 17 to 80 - the oldest participant being Handsworth's Man with a Pram John Burkihill, at 80.

He has taken part in 1,000 charity races raising cash for Macmillan Cancer Support.

Sheffield Half Marathon

Siobhan Curtis, Head of Commercial at Run For All, which has managed the event for Sheffield Council since 2015, says the change of route four years ago had refreshed the event.

That had been illustrated by increasing numbers and the "sea of people" who turned out to show their support.

"The support we get on Ecclesall Road and Ringinglow alone is phenomenal and makes such a difference to the runners," she said.

"We have taken away barriers to allow people of all abilities to take part.

“Every cheer and word of encouragement makes a huge impact, it really does. It is great to watch people handing out jelly babies or water to help the runners get through, particularly in warm weather and on the uphill parts of the route.

"Our 400 ‘ eventeers’ include groups of people from organisations like Sheffield Tigers RUFC, the Girls Venture Air Cadets and the Dore Community Group and they keep the whole thing going."

Sheffield Half Marathon

Since the new route was established the fastest male was Steve Bayton with one hour nine minutes and 29 seconds in 2017.

Last year, Nicola Squires became the quickest woman one hour, 19 minutes and 21 seconds.

It was one of around 18 events she entered in 2018.

Their performances and times represented a double success for Hallamshire Harriers, an athletics club formed way back in 1896.

But records are there to be broken...and that could happen on Sunday.

But if they are not...who cares?

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SHEFFIELD HALF MARATHON. 14TH APRIL 2019. 9.30AM. ROUTE:

Starting on Arundel Gate, in the heart of the City Centre. Runners then travel down ‘Eccy’ Road .

From there on, they pass Encliffe Park and Sheffield Tigers Rugby Club.

The course heads downhill to the outskirts of Dore and back to Ecclesall Road.

Runners finish in front of the Town Hall.

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Last year’s top 10 leaders.

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Michael Kallenberg, Cardiff AAC

2 Joe Sagar, Spenborough

3 Joseph Newman-Billington City, Sheffield AC

4 Jamie Hall, Biggleswade AC

5 Zak Mellard, Hallamshire Harriers

6 Stephen Schubeler, Heaton Harriers & AC

7 Stuart Carrack, Steel City Striders RC

8 Peter Nimmo

9 Liam Turner, Steel City Striders RC

10 David Millns, Totley AC

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It's a huge event - and a national advert for the great city of Sheffield.

Yet last month, the website runnersworld.com, listing their "15 of the best half-marathons" made no reference to the thriving South Yorkshire event, which features the added attraction of views on the fringe of the Peak District.

Sheffield's version costs £35 to enter - or £25 for early birds. Here are runnersworld’s chosen few:

Poole Half Marathon, Dorset, Saturday 1 June £23-£25.

Torbay Half Marathon, Devon Sunday 23 June £25-£27.

Hitchin Hard Half Marathon, Hertfordshire Sunday 23 June £19-£21.

Bath Two Tunnels Half Marathon, Somerset Sunday 14 July. £29-£31.

Run Aintree Half Marathon, Liverpool. Sunday 21 July £26

Simply Health Great Aberdeen Run, Aberdeen Sunday 25 August £36

Great North Run, Newcastle. Sunday 8 September £56

Richmond Runfest Sunday 15 September. Royal Botanic Gardens Kew .£34

Robin Hood Half Marathon, Nottingham. Sunday 29 September £32.95-£34.95.

Cheltenham Half Marathon Sunday 29 September £36-£38.

Windsor Half Marathon, Berkshire Sunday 30th September £36.50-£38.50

Bournemouth Half Marathon Sunday 6 October £34.75-£36.75.

Oxford Half Sunday 13 October Cost: Ballot closed.

Manchester Half Marathon Sunday 13 October Cost:£34-£36.

Royal Parks Half Marathon Hyde Park, London Sunday 13 October: Ballot closed.

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WILL YOU BE TAKING PICTURES AT THE HALF MARATHON ON SUNDAY?

If you take any great images of friends, loved-ones, other competitors, we'd love to see them and publish the best.

Please email jpegs to bob.westerdale@jpimedia.co.uk

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