Crowds turn out in show of 'fantastic support' for Stafford Half Marathon
The sun came out just in time for Stafford Half Marathon – runners praised the event for its 'fantastic support' and 'beautiful scenery'.
Athletes of all ages and abilities laced up their running shoes and pounded the streets this morning for the annual event, which finished in Market Square.
After last year's event – organised by Freedom Leisure and Stafford Borough Council – was postponed due to bad weather, there was a collective sigh of relief from all when the morning presented clear blue skies.
Mayor of Stafford Councillor Ray Barron turned out to the event in support, and handed out prizes to the winners.
He said: "It was just absolutely amazing to see so many people in Market Square having such a lovely time.
"The weather, although chilly, was just wonderful. It was horrendous yesterday with the rain but what a difference a day makes.
"It's really been a lovely day for running and the half marathon is a great thing to have in the middle of town."
He added: "We had about 4,000 runners in the race today, which was lovely to see. I felt just privileged to be here giving the prizes out to the winners - it was fantastic to hand those out.
"It was a wonderful event, really good for our town. The more events we can have in Stafford the better."
The 13.2 mile race began in Earl Street at 10am, with a one mile fun run for families and youngsters setting off just 10 minutes later.
Mark Garrett of Dudley Kingswinford Running Club achieved a personal best at Stafford Half Marathon – his first time running the course.
The 37-year-old from Wall Heath said he received 'fantastic support' as he made his way round.
"This was the first time I had done it here, and I got a PB [personal best] of one hour 34 minutes," he said. "I really enjoyed the course.
"It's beautiful scenery as you're coming round. Fantastic support and great people too - kids were giving us high fives!"
Lucy Calrow, of Wolverhampton and Bilston Athletics Club, was the third woman to cross the finish line – but said she was most excited about beating her father to the end.
The 27-year-old from Codsalll said: "It was really windy and very hilly but a great crowd. I've done the 10km here before but not the half marathon.
"I'm really excited. I actually managed to narrowly beat my dad too, Simon Calrow, which I was pleased about. I got one hour 28 and he was just under one hour 29.
Her friend and fellow running club member 34-year-old Anthony Pinson from Albrighton came in with a time of one hour 36 minutes and said the whole race went 'very well'.
The first man to finish Stafford Half – and the overall winner – was William Draper, with a time of one hour and 11 minutes, while the first woman to finish was Stafford Grammar School geography teacher Kelly Butler, coming in at one hour and 24 minutes.