Thousands take to streets for Leeds Sport Relief Mile

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They ran, they ski-ed, they space-hopped...and they really put the fun back into fundraising.

Thousands lined up for the Sport Relief Mile in Leeds yesterday, ensuring the city made a bumper contribution to the nationwide charity event’s coffers.

A host of celebrity guests, including TV duo Dick and Dom, singer Gareth Gates and superbike champion James Toseland, joined the jogging hordes and cheered them across the finishing line.

Many families ran the race together, with babies and even pet dogs doing their bit. Among the more adventurous participants was one who chose to ski the length of the course, and a couple who space-hopped their way across the finish line.

There were also appearances from a host of ‘superheroes’, including runners dressed as Batman, Captain America and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Leeds’s own rugby hero Ronnie the Rhino.

The Leeds event was one of 17 taking part simultaneously across the country.

With the clocks having gone forward the night before, meaning one less hour of sleep for everyone, the brave runners defied the bleary eyes, with many taking the option to go ‘the extra mile’ and do either three or six laps of the course.

After starting the first race, which saw Gareth Gates cross the finish line first, Richard McCourt, ‘Dick’ of Dick and Dom, told the YEP: “It’s fantastic to see that loads of people from the city of Leeds have come out to support Sport Relief. I think 4,000 people are coming today, so thank you Leeds.

“The money raised is going to help people all across this country and in other countries, people that live very difficult and hard lives, so it’s a fantastic charity.”

“We are going to run today,” he added. “We are going to do three miles, we might even do six.

“We have been doing lots of training by eating lots of pastries and we are ready!”

Dominic ‘Dom’ Wood added: “As well as being a good charitable event, it’s a really good family day.

“We’ve had kids with their mums and dads, babies stuck on their dad’s backs, people on bouncy boppers, three-legged races and allsorts. It’s a really good vibe.”

Gareth Gates, who led off the first of the morning’s three races, and crossed the finish line first, said: “It’s for a great charity. I’m from Bradford, so when they asked me to do it, I thought I would do it in Leeds because it makes it more personal for me. The support from the Leeds people has been really amazing.”

The 2012 Sport Relief campaign has already raised more than £50 million.