I work hard, but I never forget that I am really fortunate to be able to do this job, which often sees the boundary between business and pleasure get very blurred. Last weekend was a great example of this. It was the seventh annual Run Sunderland Festival, which saw the Siglion Sunderland City Half Marathon and 10K take place on Sunday. Right Lines handles PR for the events, so I was very busy in the lead-up to 7th May, and also on the day. There was a lot to do, and, I’m pleased to confirm, a great deal of interest in the event from the media. Which is nice.
However, I am also a keen runner and over the years have got to know a lot of people in the North East running fraternity. This added an extra dimension to my work on Sunday. As part of the event team, I was in the privileged position of being in the start/finish area as the races were taking place (apart from the 37 minutes and 58 seconds that it took me to run the 10K – being able to take part in events is another perk of the job!). I had duties to perform there, but I was also able to cheer home colleagues from my own club, Sedgefield Harriers, and other runners who I know from around the region. I even managed to capture a few photos of them crossing the line which I could share with them later. It’s great to watch people as they finish a race and witness the mix of emotions – elation, relief, disappointment, contentment and the rest. I always try to offer a word of encouragement and congratulation to the people I know, and to many others as they complete their runs.
As always, there were plenty of great stories linked to the Run Sunderland Festival, which naturally helps me in my PR work. The participation of both marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe and local Team GB marathon star Aly Dixon was a real boon and helped create an excellent extra buzz on the day. However, I have to say that the whole of the Events of the North team – including their amazing army of volunteers – work really hard to create a ‘big event’ atmosphere at every race they organise, and it pays dividends. Sunday’s Sunderland event was the largest to date, both in terms of runners and spectators cheering them on around the course or enjoying the entertainment in Keel Square (where Sun FM held its 20th birthday party on the same day, adding another element to the occasion). This vibrant running festival is now firmly established as a major date in the sporting and cultural calendar, which can only help Sunderland in its City of Culture 2021 bid.
Meanwhile, I can reflect on another busy working weekend that was so much more of a pleasure than a chore!