A FLAG bearing the Yorkshire rose was used to wave thousands of fundraising runners off on a poignant tenth Leeds 10km run today - almost a decade on since one woman’s cancer journey inspired the county.
The 2016 edition of Run For All’s Asda Foundation Leeds 10k marked an emotional milestone for the family of Rothwell mum Jane Tomlinson CBE, who founded the event shortly before her untimely death from cancer in 2007.
Her daughter Suzanne Tomlinson, 31, was among the thousands of elite runners, fancy dress fundraisers and charity supporters taking part in the event – hours after her own daughter Emily, nine, took part in the Run For All 2.5km Junior Run on Saturday.
She was joined by Yorkshire celebrities including model Nell McAndrew, former Leeds Rhinos star Kevin Sinfield and Emmerdale actor Michelle Hardwick for a run that has blossomed in memory of a woman who raised £1.8million before she died.
“I still can’t believe this is the 10th event, it’s quite emotional but amazing to see,” Suzanne said. “I’m so proud to be part of it – the rest of the family are cycling to Rio, so I’m here representing them.
“I feel amazingly proud of my mum and my dad, for everything he’s done to make this what it is.”
The Leeds 10k course, starting in Vicar Lane before heading to Kirkstall and finishing on The Headrow, was lined with supportive spectators, performers and charity cheerleaders on what was an overcast but humid morning.
Coun Gerry Harper, the Lord Mayor of Leeds, was one of several city councillors to take part. He did so while wearing his chains of office and raising money for Epilepsy Action and Heart Research UK.
The men’s race was won by Jamil Parapia in a time of 31 minutes and 51 seconds, while the women’s winner, Hannah Oldroyd, finished the event in 36 minutes and 52 seconds.
Paralympic champion Hannah Cockroft MBE took part in the women’s wheelchair race, which was won by Jade Jones (24:17), and Mark Telford (24:16) won the men’s race.
McAndrew, 42, who is from Belle Isle, has supported the events every year since 2007. Having finished as the fifth fastest woman, she said: “It’s great to be back home.
“I feel really happy that I can still support the charity. It was such a special event to be launched 10 years ago and to keep it going was what it was all about.
“I’m honoured to be able to help in some small, little way like everybody else, who are raising money for some really important charities.”
Since 2007 Run For All, which runs all the events that have spawned from the first Leeds 10k set up by Jane Tomlinson, has raised more than £4m for good causes.
Michelle Hardwick, who plays Vanessa Woodfield in ITV soap Emmerdale, was running her second Leeds 10k.
She added: “This has all come from one lady’s story, and it’s a lady from my home village of Rothwell. I met her many years ago, and it’s fantastic to be raising money for the Jane Tomlinson Appeal.
“More and more people are attending every year and it’s just so heartwarming.”
All the competitors were given a raucous reception en route by an equally vibrant roadside following that spurred people on with music, banners and applause.
Michiel Van Der War, 35, who lives in Chapel Allerton, was running in aid of Sunshine and Smiles – the registered charity behind the Leeds Down’s Syndrome support network of the same name.
“It was a great run, great conditions and people were supportive – it was a brilliant atmosphere,” he said.
“There’s only a few occasions in the year when there is a brilliant vibe in the city like this. Sport brings people together.”
Melanie Burkinshaw, 38, from Moortown, completed her goal of running the 10k in less than 50 minutes.
She added: “There were bands playing and people singing. The crowds really get you through the tough moments. It feels specials being the 10th year.”
Ashley Vann, 23, from Headingley, was taking part in the event as part of one of more than 50 teams involved in the corporate challenge.
Ashley, who was running for Leeds-based marketing firm Banana Kick’s team, said: “It’s been really good seeing everybody out in support of the runners. It was great.”
For further information on Run For All events visit runforall.com.