THIS YEAR’S Sunderland Festival of Running will feature a new racing challenge designed at attracting running clubs from throughout the North-East to both the Sunderland City Half Marathon and 10k.

The Sunderland City Club Challenge, which is sponsored by travel company HolidayDiscountCentre, will offer three cash prizes, with the first prize also including a trip for four to Ireland.

The Sunderland Festival of Running will be held on Sunday, May 4 and involve two main races that start and finish at the Stadium of Light.

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The Sunderland City 10k has grown into an established part of the North-East athletics calendar, while this year’s Sunderland City Half Marathon will follow a flatter route with fewer turns than last year’s race. The change should enable runners to post faster times early in the summer season.

To qualify for the Sunderland City Club Challenge, each club must enter a minimum of three finishers in each event, one of whom must be female. The team with the lowest cumulative time from their best two performances in the 10K and Half Marathon (including at least one female counting in each event) will be crowned the winners The winning club will receive £500 and travel and accommodation to send a team of four to the Rock n’ Roll Dublin Half Marathon in August. The second team prize is £200, while the third team will win £100.

Steve Cram, founder of the Sunderland City Half Marathon and 10K, said: “We are really happy with the new route for the half marathon. It’s a flatter and more straightforward course and it should appeal to club runners who are determined to post fast times in the first half of the year.

“Both the half marathon and 10k routes also offer plenty of great vantage points for spectators, which will add to the atmosphere and sense of occasion.”

Event organisers are expecting more than 4,000 people to take part in the Sunderland Festival of Running events, with thousands more lining the streets to support the runners. For more information, or to book a place, visit