More than 3,000 runners take to the streets for Stafford's annual half marathon

More than 3,000 runners from across the West Midlands and Staffordshire hit the streets of Stafford to take part in the town's annual half marathon.

Crowds of people flocked to the event in Stafford town centre.
Crowds of people flocked to the event in Stafford town centre.

The event, organised by Freedom Leisure on behalf of Stafford Borough Councils, drew more than 3,100 entries and was branded a "huge success".

It saw tens of thousands of pounds for charities raised at the event on Sunday, which saw another 200 people turn out to take part a one-mile fun run.

Liz Hulse, race director of Stafford's Half Marathon, said: "The whole day has been a huge success and things couldn’t really have gone any better.

"Thousands of people have taken part and thousands more have lined the streets to cheer them on, so it’s been absolutely wonderful to see so many people out and about."

Volunteers began work at 3am to get the route ready and students from the University of Wolverhampton offered sports massages to runners before and after the race, with every finisher receiving a medal, a bottle of water and a banana.

Liz added: "We couldn’t do it without them, so a massive thank you to everyone who has helped out – it’s an amazing effort.

"Similarly, I can’t thank our sponsors enough; The University of Wolverhampton, Stafford Railway Building Society, Velo Runner and WR Davies have all been incredible and we are very grateful for their fantastic support."

Matt Costello of Shrewsbury Running Club was the first to complete the half marathon.

First home was Matt Costello of Shrewsbury Running Club who completed the 13.1-mile circuit in one hour, 12 minutes and 13 seconds. The first female home was Birchfield Harrier Kelly Butler, winning her category for the third race in a row with a time of just over one hour and 22 minutes.

Kelly, a former teacher at Stafford Grammar School, said: "This was the toughest one, as I’ve been nursing an injury and it was a hot day. But I’m just delighted to have won because this is such a good race on the calendar and it means a lot to me."

The race got under way at 10am sharp and took runners on a circuit along Newport Road, Westway, Wolverhampton Road, Lichfield Road and Radford Bank, Baswich Lane, Beaconside and the Isabel Trail before ending back in the town centre through Victoria Park, with the finish line in Market Square.

The first woman to complete the half marathon was Birchfield Harrier Kelly Butler, winning her category for the third race in a row.

And 10 minutes later the one-mile fun run – two laps of the town centre – got under way with a wide range of wacky fancy dress runners, including the ubiquitous Spider-Man, Superman and Captain America.

Councillor Carolyn Trowbridge, portfolio holder for leisure at Stafford Borough Council, said: "It has been a fantastic event and congratulations to everyone who took part in the Half Marathon and the Fun Run too.

"The weather was near-perfect and I hear there have been plenty of new ‘personal best’ times set. To see so many people lining the streets and in the town was amazing and another big sign that things are getting back to normal.

"All the shops and cafes have been busy and it’s a been a great day to show that not only is Stafford open for business, but that it can stage huge events like this again and everyone can have a safe and enjoyable day out.

"The highlight for me was seeing the runners come through Victoria Park – it was so picture-perfect and inspirational. We can’t wait for next year’s race now."

Entries are already open for the 2022 Half Marathon, with a discounted entry fee until midnight on Tuesday. For further information – and a full set of results – visit staffordhalf.com

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