Virtual Sunderland City Runs offer a chance to ‘race’ in May and support hospice

Organisers of the Sunderland City Runs Festival have announced that a virtual event will go ahead next month. Although the actual Sunderland City Half Marathon, 10K and 5K have been postponed until September, the Virtual Sunderland City Runs will take place from 9-11 May, with real medals and prizes on offer across all distances. The event is being held to support St. Benedict’s Hospice in Sunderland, with a proportion of the entry fee being donated to the charity.

The Virtual Sunderland City Runs will give everyone who was training for the originally scheduled event, or has been getting fit during lockdown, the opportunity to compete in a ‘race’, with help of registration partner My Laps and timing partner HS Sports. Those who want to take part can register online, download a special app and then record and submit their best time for a solo run over the 5K, 10K or half marathon distance at any time from 9 May to midnight on 11 May. All times that are submitted will be validated and results will appear online on 14 May, with medals and prizes safely distributed afterwards. The start of the event will be signalled by Steve Cram, who will join staff from the hospice for a Zoom call to be broadcast live on Facebook, and will sound a hooter at 9:00am on Saturday 9 May.

Thousands of people have already signed up to take part in this year’s Sunderland City Runs, organised by Events of the North in partnership with Sunderland City Council. Due to COVID-19, the event has been postponed until 26 and 27 September, and the virtual event is designed to give runners a target to focus on in the short term, while also providing financial support to St. Benedict’s Hospice, which is funded by the NHS and the charity set up for the hospice. Sunderland Team GB athlete and St. Benedict’s ambassador Aly Dixon has committed to taking part, as has North East charity fundraising legend Big Pink Dress (Colin Burgin-Plews).

Event founder Steve Cram comments: 

“Of course, we are still hopeful that we will be able to proceed with our full schedule of events on the rearranged dates in September. Meanwhile, we don’t want our original festival weekend to pass without doing something for all of those people who were already preparing or have been putting in the miles during lockdown. 

“Using technology, we can still host exciting virtual 5K, 10K and half marathon races and we’ve got some great medals and prizes too. Most important in the current circumstances is that we can use the Virtual Sunderland City Runs to raise vital funds for our amazing charity partner, St. Benedict’s Hospice.”

Anthony McDermott of St. Benedict’s Hospice adds: 

“With the current pandemic affecting so many of our normal fundraising activities, which of course included Sunderland City Runs, this has left us with a significant shortfall in income. While the hospice still continues to operate to the same high standards as always, it is imperative that as a charity we still continue to fund the work that goes on here. With this in mind, we want to say a huge thank you to everyone at Events of the North for creating this event and supporting St Benedict’s NHS Hospice at this challenging time. On behalf of all of our amazing staff here, thank you all and we can’t wait to follow everyone’s ‘races’ online. Good luck to all!”Registering for each Virtual Sunderland City Run distance (5K, 10K or half marathon) costs £5 and half of this (after tax) will be donated to St. Benedict’s Hospice.