Rugby legend turned marathon-runner, Kevin Sinfield OBE says ‘it’s fantastic to have Oldham’s half marathon back on the map’ as his hometown prepares to welcome the event back after three years.
The borough’s 13.1 mile race, one of the toughest half marathon courses in the UK, returns as the ‘Oldham Halloween Half’ on Sunday 29 October and more than 150 runners have already signed up to take part – demonstrating the town’s appetite for its comeback.
“This is such a special event to have in Oldham,” Kevin said, who was also named Freeman of the Borough back in May.
“From what I’ve seen and experienced over the last couple of years through friendship is people like doing challenges together, people like getting out there and exercising and spending time together and it’s great Oldham has that again with the half marathon.
“I’ve obviously ran through sections of the town in the past for some of my previous fundraisers, but I’ve never actually been able to do the half marathon yet so at my first opportunity, I’ll be running it for sure.”
Due to coaching commitments, Kevin unfortunately misses out on this year’s race as England competes at the Rugby World Cup, but the ultra-marathon runner did have some tips for those taking part.
“There are a lot of marathons and half marathons out there that say they are flat and fast,” Kevin added.
“Oldham certainly won’t be flat and fast but for somebody getting into training for those types of races, I think this course offers great preparation.
“Plus, with the weather conditions, some beautiful scenery and the humour of the people here, this will all definitely help you to get around the course, so you will really enjoy it.”
Oldham Halloween Half is open to anyone aged 17 and over, and if you haven’t already signed-up you can do so by visiting Oldham Community Leisure’s website.
Responding to Kevin's comments, Oldham Community Leisure's Chief Executive, Stuart Lockwood said: "It’s lovely to hear this event is appreciated by one of Oldham’s biggest athletes.
“We have always been eager to bring this event back to Oldham as soon as we could, especially as the pandemic started to ease.
“So we really welcome Kevin’s endorsement as this event is huge for the town and it’s a great way for us all to come together as a community, not only to run but to spend time with each other and participate in friendly competition.”
Entry fees for the race start from a competitive £30, with local running groups and clubs able to enter for just £28.
Runners will begin with this year’s half marathon on St Mary's Way in the centre of Oldham, before taking a steady incline up to Grains Bar, where at a whopping 340 metres above sea level, the course reaches its peak.
From here, participants will enjoy breathtaking views of the Saddleworth countryside as they make their way through Delph, Dobcross and Uppermill, before heading on to Grasscroft and Lydgate to begin their return leg.
With one last push through Lees and Glodwick, runners return up St Mary’s Way at the back of Tommyfield Market, where they will be greeted by applauding crowds as they cross the finish line and receive their well-deserved pumpkin-themed medals.
Councillor Peter Dean, Cabinet Member for Communities and Culture, said: “Oldham Halloween Half is going to be a wonderful day for the town and it’s great to have it back after a few years away.
“The course is not an easy feat for even the most experienced of runners but it’s all part of the fun and it’ll be lovely to see people from all areas out there with their running shoes on, enjoying the borough’s amazing landscape and just having a great time, so sign-up and give it a go if you haven't already.”
To enter online, please visit www.oclactive.co.uk