Be ‘inSPIREd’ by five to run at the first Sunderland City 5K

Details have been announced of a major new running event in Sunderland.  The Sunderland City 5K is being added to the Siglion Sunderland City Runs line up for May and will start and finish on the Northern Spire Bridge, the first time that the bridge will close to traffic for a mass participation event since it was opened.  Today, North East athletics legend Steve Cram joined four local people who have used running to change their lives – with support from Cllr Graeme Miller, Leader of Sunderland City Council, the five sent out a message that they hope will ‘inSPIRE’ others to run 5K.

Designed to appeal to people who are keen to make a start at running and challenge themselves to build up to the distance, the Sunderland City 5K will make its debut on the evening of Saturday 11 May.The event is also expected to attract fast club runners who are keen to lead the field across the bridge and set a good time on a new course.  The run is being organised by a partnership between Events of the North, Sunderland City Council and their Active Sunderland team and joins the well-established Siglion Sunderland City Half Marathon and 10K, and the Active Sunderland BIG 3K Run, all to be held on Sunday 12 May.  The Siglion Sunderland City Runs will see over 5,000 participants take to the streets of Wearside over the weekend of events.

Today, Steve Cram and Cllr Graeme Miller met four local runners with stories that the event organisers hope will inspire people in Sunderland and around the region to take up running and build up to the event.  In distinct ways, getting into running has made huge differences to the lives of Ann Rush, Richard Borrowdale, Deb Watson and Bill Wright.  Ann, Richard, Deb and Bill will all be taking part in one of this year’s Siglion Sunderland City Runs on 11 and 12 May and have shared their stories to encourage others to lead more active lives by giving running a try.

Steve Cram comments:

“Every runner starts somewhere and aiming to complete a 5K event is a really sensible and achievable objective.  We’re really excited about the new Sunderland City 5K on many levels.  We’re going to have the privilege of putting on an event that uses and showcases the region’s newest iconic structure.  It’s going to offer a great opportunity for runners of all ages and abilities, whether they want to build up from scratch to the 5K distance and have the experience of being part of a vibrant, mass participation event, have a gentle warm up before one of the longer races the following day,or simply set a fast 5K time.  We’re so pleased that Ann, Richard, Deb and Bill are able to help us launch the 5K – each of them has a wonderful story and perspective and I am sure that they will inspire people in Sunderland and further afield to sign up and join us on 11 May and 12 May.”

Cllr Graeme Miller, Leader of Sunderland City Council, adds: “I am delighted that this year we are adding a new 5K run for the first time which takes in Sunderland’s new iconic landmark, the Northern Spire Bridge.  I can say without doubt that this year, the Sunderland City Runs weekend really will offer a distance suitable for everyone, whatever your age, from beginners right up to serious athletes.”

The Sunderland City 5K will start and finish on the Northern Spire Bridge and follow a route on closed roads in the area, with numerous excellent vantage points for spectators.  The run is scheduled to start at 6:00pm on Saturday 11 May.  The entry fee is £15, but anyone who has already entered the Siglion Sunderland City Half Marathon or 10K and fancies a warm up the night before, can claim a £3 discount for the 5K.  Going forward, anyone who enters two events over the Siglion Sunderland City Runs weekend will get £3 off the second event that they enter.  Every finisher in the 5K will earn a medal, t-shirt and goody bag.

Running has made huge differences to the lives of Ann Rush, Richard Borrowdale, Deb Watson and Bill Wright, all of whom will be taking part in the 2019 Siglion Sunderland City Runs.  Here are their stories.

Deb Watson

Running has quite literally offered 38-year-old Deb Watson a lifeline after she was diagnosed with liver disease in 2017 and told that if she if she didn’t improve her unhealthy lifestyle, she would have just six months to live.  Determined to turn things around she began her fitness journey by walking 2Kand after a few weeks gained the confidence to lightly jog 2K.

With some gentle coaxing from her husband, Alan she gained the confidence to take part in some local events and joined a running group.Over the past two years, Deb, from Hendon, has achieved a six stone weight loss and, despite a shoulder injury, is fitter and healthier than ever and is preparing to line up in her first Sunderland City 10K this May.

Deb comments: “I took part in the Active Sunderland BIG 3K in 2018 which was so much fun and great for my confidence.  I always said the Siglion Sunderland City 10K 2019 would be my comeback run after my shoulder injury.  I have never had the experience of being the runner at an event and have people cheering for me.  I’m normally cheerleader and photographer!”

Richard Borrowdale

Thirty-nine-year-old Richard Borrowdale from Houghton-le-Spring had his passion for running reignited after taking part in a Start Me Up for Sunderland (SMUFS) free training session in 2015 where he was inspired to join a regular 5K parkrun.  Four years later, Richard has completed 141 parkruns including some in Italy and Poland, and has several 10K races, halfmarathons, marathons and even an ultra-marathon under his belt.

Richard, who is now a qualified coach and running club leader, comments: “I was a keen runner in my 20s but then gave it up for over a decade before I attempted the Edinburgh and Dublin marathons in 2013, but I didn’t train properly and ended up with a chronic knee injury.  That first SMUFS session set me on the way to getting back into running again and taking it more seriously. I’m very glad that I did, it’s a big part of my life now.”


Ann Rush

With her 60th birthday on the horizon, Ann Rush has discovered a new love of running after she had to reluctantly give up the sport 18 years ago.   The former county standard archer had used running to support her overall fitness, but a neck injury, coupled with work and family commitments, led to her giving up both activities in 2001. Ironically, a broken bone in her foot in 2015 was the start of her return to running, as she set herself physical and mental goals to overcome the setback which had saw her sink into depression, starting with completing a 5K Cancer Research Race for Life event.

Over the past two and half years Ann has been running regularly, competing in many races including the Great North Run and supporting Start Me Up for Sunderland training sessions. After becoming a running leader in October 2018, Ann hopes to use her experience to inspire others by starting up a Run Together Group in the spring.

Ann comments: “Running is a huge part of my life now, more than it ever was before. I have found an inner calm and balance and I have made so many friends. I will turn 60 in 2019 and will keep on running.”

Bill Wright

Seventy-one-year-old Bill Wright from Grangetown is proof that age is no obstacle to taking up running.  After getting involved in the Active Sunderland Wellness Walking Programme in 2015 Bill decided was ready for a bigger challenge, so he downloaded the Couch to 5K app and started following the programme.  In 2017 Bill felt confident enough to join a local running club where he slowly worked up from a 2K to a 5K run and took part in his first race, the Active Sunderland BIG 3k.

Over the next 12 months, Bill’s fitness levels and confidence grew, culminating in his first Sunderland City 10K which he is set to take part in again this May.

Bill comments: “I never thought I’d find a love for running in my late 60s and 70s. It just goes to show that with a little hard work and perseverance, we all have a runner in us.  I’m really looking forward to my second Siglion Sunderland City 10K and I’m hoping to beat last year’s time!”


Entries for the half marathon, 10K and 5K are open now at  To enter the Active Sunderland BIG 3K Run visit