Runners take to streets of Halesowen for first Black Country Road Run since pandemic

Hundreds of runners took to the streets in the Black Country as part of a popular road run to help raise money for numerous charities.

Runners take to the road in Halesowen for the Black Country Road Run.
Runners take to the road in Halesowen for the Black Country Road Run.

The 10th Black Country Road Run – returning for the first time since the pandemic – saw people flood the streets of Halesowen on Sunday.

The event, organised by the Halesowen and Rowley Regis Rotary Club, has helped raise more than £500,000 over the years for good causes.

And the run, which had a 10k and a family-fun raise, saw floods of people turn out – each being sponsored to complete the challenge for a charity.

Rotarian Alan Bowler, race director, said: "We normally hold the race at the beginning of July but we moved it because we didn't know about the [Covid-19] restrictions.

"The main thing is for Rotary is that we're bringing something back to the town, people need to get back to normality. It's all about getting things moving again and collecting money for charity, because it's been a tough year for all of them.

"We're raising money for the mayor's charities [Dudley Mind and The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award] and the runners run for their own charities, similar to the Great North Run."

Halesowen actor Gregory Piper
Runners ahead of the road run
Runners – including West Midlands Mayor Andy Street – take to the road in Halesowen for the Black Country Road Run

Among those taking part was famous fundraiser and marathon runner 'Blind Dave' Heeley, from West Bromwich, who said he wasn't feeling "too bad" ahead of the race – despite his battles with long Covid, after catching the virus in November last year.

Mr Heeley said: "It's great to be here. It's lovely because everything is kicking off again and let's hope it stays that way.

"I'm not doing too bad, it was a bit of a kicker [to catch Covid-19] because you don't think you're going to get anything and then I caught it and it gave me a good kicking."

Line of Duty star Gregory Piper, from Halesowen, officially opened the race alongside Councillor Anne Millward, Mayor of Dudley. Mr Piper, who starred as Ryan Pilkington in the hit BBC show, said: "I feel very lucky and honoured. It's something brilliant happening in the Black Country and it's for lots of good causes. It's even more amazing to be asked [because I'm from Halesowen]."

The actor joked afterwards he was maybe a "little bit busy" to take part in the run this year, but said he might consider it in the future.

Meanwhile West Midlands Mayor Andy Street returned for his third run – having previously taken part in the road run in 2018 and 2019 before the pandemic hit in aid of Acorns Children's Hospice.

Mr Street said: "I took part in 2018 and 2019 and I enjoyed it very much, frankly – although it was very hot and I know they didn't want to, but to do it in September is far better. I'm no professional, but during the lockdown [the first lockdown when people were told to stay at home, but they could leave for exercise] running did keep me sane – it was my exercise, running alongside the canal.

"It's a good way of saying fit and obviously this event has raised an enormous amount of money over the years and I wanted to do my bit and support it.

"I was made the patron of the Acorns appeal and nothing has given me more pleasure than to see the hospice in Walsall has been saved through everyone's efforts."

The mayor added he had a huge amount of respect and praise for the Halesowen and Rowley Regis Rotary club as he praised the "brilliant organising" and "amazing volunteers" who made the day special.

A cheque for £2,000 was later presented to the Black Country Foodbank to help them continue their operation – with the money used to pay for the costs associated with a vehicle.

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