Runners were glad of the new flatter, faster course as they took to the baking-hot streets of the city for the YEP-backed Asda Foundation Run For All Leeds 10K.
Thousands of people – including celebrities, many in fancy dress and nearly 40 people in a giant caterpillar costume – lined up at the start of the redesigned course in soaring temperatures on Sunday morning.
Crowds packed the streets to cheer on everyone from elite athletes to groups of fun runners in tutus as the mercury hit 24 degrees for the 9.30am race.
And the new course, which took competitors from Vicar Lane through the city centre, along Kirkstall Road and back, lived up to its billing as the winners of both the men’s and women’s races recorded searingly fast times.
Nineteen-year-old Tesfaye Debele, who recently moved from East Africa to Bradford, clocked a stunning 30 minutes 41 seconds in winning the men’s race – more than four minutes quicker than last year’s winning man, who clocked 34 minutes, 50 seconds.
Pauline Munro, 44, from Kirkby Overblow near Harrogate, recorded an equally impressive 34 minutes, 52 seconds – nearly six minutes faster than the winning time of 40 minutes 30 seconds achieved by last year’s winner.
She hailed the new course, saying: “This course should get pushed as one of the fastest 10Ks in the north.”
The very first person across the line, however, in a personal best time of exactly 24 minutes, was wheelchair racer Bret Crossley, 39.
Despite the winners’ breath-taking athleticism, the event remains predominantly a fitting legacy to the epic charity work of Leeds woman Jane Tomlinson, who raised £1.85million before her death from cancer in 2007.
Her widower, Mike Tomlinson, said: “She would be thrilled that everyone still turns out in these numbers.”
Full story and pictures in Monday’s YEP.