Thousands of North East runners take part in Sport Relief Mile

FOR the third year running people across the North East rose to the challenge for the Sport Relief Mile.

Sport Relief Mile at Saltwell Park

FOR the third year running people across the North East rose to the challenge for the Sport Relief Mile.

Saltwell Park, Gateshead, hosted one of the many Sport Relief events in the region and saw around 4,000 turning up to take part.

The early Sunday morning start didn’t stop eager participants arriving in their droves to warm up their limbs and stretch out their hamstrings.

A group of workers from the Youth and Community team at Gateshead Council decided to dedicate their lunch breaks to training for the event.

Deb Hoare, 37, Jo Grant, 23, Claire Stillwell, 35, and Stacy Walker, 24, ran the three-mile run and raised £200 between them. Deb said: “We started a running club twice a week to help us all train and I’m hoping we’ll continue with it.”

Family and friends lined the track to spur on the runners, and John Eagle, the Lord Mayor of Gateshead, was among the supporters.

He said: “I was planning to run in my chains but I’ve done my knee in, so I’ll be walking the mile. That’s what’s so great about the Sport Relief Mile, you can run, walk, silly walk, one mile, three miles, six miles. It’s about taking part.”

Sunderland band The Futureheads swapped their guitars for sweat bands and ran the mile along with TV presenter Jayne Middlemiss, from Bedlington, Northumberland.

The Newcastle Falcons were there with Flash the Falcon giving out welcome hugs to all those lunging towards the finish line. The fancy dress costumes were out in full force and the crowds cheered as a giant banana waddled his way round the course.

Mark Lowrey and Daniel Southern, both 26, pleased supporters as they dashed through the finish line wearing nothing but a pair of shorts, a tie and lots of red body paint.

Daniel, of Colombo Square, Gateshead, said: “We decided to do the run and really wanted to dress up. The paint was the cheapest thing we could find.”

There were lots of fun activities for visitors to take part in, from paint balling to mini-bungee jumping and even record-breaking hula hooping.

The Sport Relief challenge, organised by Hula Hoops crisps, attempted to set the world record for the largest amount of people hula hooping at one time.

Thousands of people all over the country hula hooped for two minutes at noon yesterday and Gateshead had more than 200 participants, more than any other place taking part.

Kelly Nash, 30, of Biddick Hall, South Shields, said: “I saw the event advertised on TV and thought it looked fun, but it’s been a while since I last hula hooped.

“I only lasted a few seconds but my daughter did the whole two minutes. I’m so proud of her.”

A series of Sport Relief events were held around the region yesterday including the Druridge Bay Country Park Mile, in Morpeth, and Ashington Park, both Northumberland, and The Shildon Sunnydale Leisure Centre Mile in Durham.

At the last count, over £29m had been raised for Sport Relief nationally. All the money raised by the public is spent by Comic Relief to help transform the lives of vulnerable people, both at home and across the world’s poorest countries.

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