Slideshow: Thousands pound pavements for 2012 Leeds Abbey Dash

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Thousands of runners braved a chilly morning to help ensure older people are kept warm this winter.

A record 7,380 participants pounded the Leeds pavements for the 2012 Abbey Dash.

The start of the Abbey Dash on the Headrow.

The start of the Abbey Dash on the Headrow.

The event, backed by the Yorkshire Evening Post, was raising cash for Age UK’s Spread The Warmth campaign and its befriending service.

Under blue skies, the biggest-ever field of runners streamed through the start on a crisp autumn morning to tackle the notoriously fast course.

Following a mass warm-up in Victoria Gardens, participants headed down Kirkstall Road, out to Kirkstall Abbey and then back to finish on the Headrow outside Leeds Town Hall.

First back was Luke Cragg, of Leeds City Athletic Club, in 29:29.

He just sneaked ahead of Josh Lilly, who finished in 29:32, and Mohammed Abu Rezeq in 29:50.

Leeds’ own Susan Partridge was third among the women with 33:20, Rebecca Robinson was second in 33:09 and the first was Alyson Dixon in 32:53.

Alyson, from Sunderland, said she was delighted to run a personal best.

“When I saw the start list I convinced myself I was going to come fourth,” the international marathon runner said.

“I was hoping for a PB, but not as fast as I did.

“It’s great to see so many people out. It’s good for running but also great when it’s a big charity race.”

A handful of runners donned fancy dress – including Nick Paszek who was dressed as a skeleton, following previous Abbey Dashes as a teddy bear and lion.

The 31-year-old, from Sheffield, said: “I’m not a serious runner, it’s for charity and the cheers from the side of the streets spur you on.

“Age UK is a brilliant cause.”

Lydia Curran, senior events manager for Age UK, said: “We are delighted. We knew the people of Leeds would be really supportive of the cause.

“There are older people who are lonely this winter and we are making a real difference, and that’s why so many people are getting behind us.”

Before the main race got underway, speedy youngsters got their chance to shine in the junior race, being held for the second time.

More than 150 children aged between eight and 15 signed up for the 2km run.

And it was a family affair for winners, 13-year-old Billy Dawson and 12-year-old Stella Cross – who are cousins.

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