Thousands of runners will hit the streets of Leeds on May 10 to help the Leeds Half Marathon celebrate a special milestone in its history.
It will be the 30th running of the event that over the past three decades has grown into one of the highlights on the region’s sporting calendar.
And at today’s launch of the 2015 race it received a further boost when it was announced that broadband and phone services provider Plusnet is to be the headline sponsor of the event for the next three years.
The company already sponsors the Yorkshire Marathon and the Yorkshire Half Marathon-Sheffield which, along with the Leeds Half, are part of the lasting legacy of the late Jane Tomlinson CBE who raised almost £2m for charity through a series of endurance challenges, despite being diagnosed with incurable cancer.
Andy Baker, Plusnet’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “We are absolutely delighted to support to such a major event as the Leeds Half Marathon, which we know is hugely popular with both runners and spectators and raises fantastic sums of money for some great causes.
“In many ways it is a natural extension of our existing involvement in two excellent distance events and makes for a super series of Plusnet-backed runs in Yorkshire.”
Lucy Elsender, event lead for the Plusnet Leeds Half Marathon, said: “We are very pleased to welcome Plusnet on board in such a special year for the Leeds Half Marathon. Its support will help an already successful event to develop even further.”
Among the guests at today’s launch on the steps of Leeds Town Hall was John Convery, the first ever winner of the Leeds Half Marathon in 1986 in a time of 1:06:59 – still one of the fastest in the event’s history.
A member the Valley Striders club in Leeds, John, from Horsforth, has signed up for this year’s race and is hoping for a top 10 finish.
John, 53, who runs for England at veteran level, said: “Obviously I have fond memories of the very first Leeds Half Marathon. It was a great feeling to cross the line first and it’s amazing to think it was so long ago.
“The event has developed a lot since those early days. It is fantastic that it has grown into such a popular race that always generates a wonderful atmosphere. I am really looking forward to this year’s run.”
The route starts in The Headrow alongside Victoria Gardens, heads out of the city centre, takes in a section of the Ring Road and returns via Abbey Road and Kirkstall Road before finishing in Cookridge Street alongside Millennium Square.
Last year’s Leeds Half Marathon, which is Yorkshire’s biggest hospice run, attracted 7,000 entrants – its biggest field to date – and raised a record £150,000 for its partner charities. More was raised by runners taking part for other good causes of their choice.
This year’s Partner charities are the Jane Tomlinson Appeal, Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice, Martin House Children’s Hospice, Marie Curie Cancer Care, Sue Ryder, Overgate Hospice, St Gemma’s Hospice, CLIC Sargent, Leeds Children’s Hospital Appeal and Macmillan Cancer Support.
Siobhan Curtis, Jane Tomlinson Appeal Legacy Manager, said: “We are enormously grateful to everyone who will be taking part in the 30th running of the Plusnet Leeds Half Marathon, which over three decades has rightly earned a reputation as a super event that benefits some wonderful charities. Good luck to all the runners.”
The event is sponsored by Plusnet, Leeds City Council, Asda Foundation, Yorkshire Evening Post, Radio Aire, Runner’s World, Run247.com and Marathon Talk.
For more information and to enter the Plusnet Leeds Half Marathon, click here.