The Ali Brownlee Riverside Run

The Ali Brownlee Riverside Run was first renamed last year in honour of the local broadcasting legend who died last February after a short battle with cancer.

The new name for the Middlesbrough 5k Road Race and 2k Fun becomes a permanent fixture when the event returns on Sunday, July 2.

Middlesbrough Council and leisure services partner Everyone Active are hoping for another record turn-out for the run which takes in some of the town’s most striking landmarks including Temenos and the Transporter Bridge, before a memorable finish beside the hallowed turf inside the Riverside Stadium.

I chatted with Race Director Jimmy Wattis at a gathering of Alastair’s family and famous Boro personalities to officially launch the 5km run.

The launch of the Everyone Active Ali Brownlee 5K Riverside Run took place at the Riversiode Stadium on Wednesday 1st March. 1-3-17  Pic Doug Moody Photography
The launch of the Everyone Active Ali Brownlee 5K Riverside Run took place at the Riversiode Stadium on Wednesday 1st March.
1-3-17 Pic Doug Moody Photography

Q: We are here at the Riverside for the launch of the Ali Brownlee Riverside Run – I believe the name is now a permanent memorial to Alastair.

JW: Yes, Ali first ran the 10k probably about 10 years ago. We both decided that his skills were probably best used doing the commentary. Then I organised the Sport Relief Mile from the Town Centre in 2008 and we wanted to develop that and we felt that we could extend it to a 5k and take it round the Riverside. So from 2009 Ali did the commentary on this event as well. And I know how much it meant to him being able to come out and meet so many people in a position where he could encourage people and see the joy on peoples faces as he shouted their race number out or if they had their name on their shirt, he would shout their name out. He was just an incredible man all round and I know that he had these events in his heart and I thought that it was only right that we named the event after him.

Q: Of course one of Alastair’s daughter’s ran last year.

JW: Yes, I wasn’t involved last year but Alison ran last year and I think Emily, Alison and Alastair’s wife, Wendy are all going to do it this year.

It is great for the town. We hope that all those thousands of fans that still sing Ali’s name at the games come out in force and support the run and I am sure they will have a great time.

The launch of the Everyone Active Ali Brownlee 5K Riverside Run took place at the Riversiode Stadium on Wednesday 1st March. 1-3-17  Pic Doug Moody Photography
The launch of the Everyone Active Ali Brownlee 5K Riverside Run took place at the Riversiode Stadium on Wednesday 1st March.
1-3-17 Pic Doug Moody Photography

Q: For anyone that jogs, parkruns or races, whatever ability it is special to finish in a football stadium, isn’t it?

JW: Oh it is, there is a fantastic atmosphere because obviously there are two events, we have the 2k fun run and we also have the 5k run, so as people are finishing whichever one they are running in you have got the support of the other runners sat in the stadium cheering them on. Other than last year but it will be back this year, we play Chariots of Fire theme as they run into the stadium. I know that each runner loves that and it will be back on this year. Hopefully, all being well, we will have pictures of Ali and commentary of Ali up on the big screen, that is what we are hoping to achieve this year. So, it will be fantastic for all involved.

Q: So, people that run the 5k can progress to the Middlesbrough 10k can’t they?

JW: Yes, that is what we are trying to do. We have tried to create a stepping stone for the 10k  because that has been a major event in the town since 2005. We are always out there beating the drum about people being healthier and fitter and so there are all the stepping stones there, there is a 2k, the 3k, the 5k and the 10k. Obviously and on top of that there is the Redcar half marathon that we would like to think people could achieve at some point as well.

Q: How long after the 10k is Redcar half marathon?

JW: It is 4 weeks after 10k, it is October 1st Redcar half marathon. So, you could train up for the 10k and then still get a couple of longer runs in and then start to taper off in time for the Redcar half marathon. So, I think the timing for the runs in Middlesbrough and on Teesside is perfect.

Q: It is a great thing that there seem to be more people running than ever before.

JW: Oh there are. I think everyone notices now the nights are starting to get lighter you can see people out all the time. The 10k route especially with it being marked, so people know the distances and they know the times and I think that route has been great for the town as well.

It is always a great event and one of my favourite day’s of the year but the permanent renaming after the great, late Alastair Brownlee and the involvement of his family is bound to make the Riverside Run that bit more special.

Alastair’s widow Wendy said: “I am really honoured to have such a wonderful and prestigious event named after Ali – he would be so proud.

“I know what this event meant to him, he was always excited when he was leaving the house on the morning knowing he was going to meet so many people and to be able to cheer and encourage each and every one of them on.”

To register for either the 5k or 2k please visit

Entries are also being taken for the 2017 Taylor Wimpey Tees Pride 10k and 3k Fun Run which takes place on Sunday, September 3.

For further information contact Jimmy Wattis on 01642 20083

The launch of the Everyone Active Ali Brownlee 5K Riverside Run took place at the Riversiode Stadium on Wednesday 1st March. 1-3-17  Pic Doug Moody Photography
The launch of the Everyone Active Ali Brownlee 5K Riverside Run took place at the Riversiode Stadium on Wednesday 1st March.
1-3-17 Pic Doug Moody Photography

Sign Up for the Fifth Riverside Run

Runners limbering up for the 2015 5k Riverside Run are officially under starter’s orders.

The popular road race was officially launched at the Riverside Stadium with The Cleveland Centre on board as the event’s new headline sponsor.

The run – aimed at runners, walkers and charity fundraisers of all ages and abilities – is now in its fifth year and takes place from the Riverside on Sunday, May 31.

That means there’s plenty of time for beginners and couch potatoes to get in shape and join elite athletes and club runners for the colourful family event.

It is a dream event really especially for Boro fans as runners start in the shadow of the Riverside and then work their way past historic landmarks at the Transporter bridge and Dock Clock Tower before catching site of the stadium once more.

Then when you finally enter the Riverside there is a roar from the crowd seated on the far side. It hits you as you enter through the corner tunnel. It is a real buzz moment and almost sweeps you off your feet.

And who could forget the inspirational dash towards the finish line accompanied by the Chariots of Fire theme as you lap the Boro pitch. You find some extra energy as you are cheered on by all the competitors in the junior fun run and friends and families. There are few community events that provide this champions finish. Believe me it is something that lives with you through the year.

The Cleveland Centre 5k Riverside Run was officially launched at the Stadium on Friday (March 6) when representatives from Middlesbrough Council and the shopping centre were joined by members of the local Swift-tees running group.

Councillor Tracy Harvey, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive Member for Environment, said: “Middlesbrough is proud to host some of the region’s best running events, and the Riverside Run is growing in popularity every year.

“The 5k is ideal for beginners, and is also a great opportunity for charity fundraisers to raise much needed cash for good causes.

“We’re looking forward to another great turn-out, so I’d urge anyone planning to take part to get their application in soon.”

Cleveland Centre Manager Graeme Skillen said: “As an organisation committed to supporting our local community, Cleveland Centre is delighted to be headline partner for this year’s Riverside Run.

“It is a highly popular and well respected event for runners of all abilities that promotes positive activity and community spirit, as well as helping to raise money for many worthwhile causes.”

The Cleveland Centre 5k Riverside Run will have an entry limit of 2,000 runners and entries to the event will close on Wednesday, May 20 or when the 2,000 runner limit is reached, whichever is sooner.

I would underline again anyone can have a go at running, walking or half, half around the 5km or 3.1 mile in old money, course. The run is pretty much flat a as a pancake but lots of points of interest as it takes you through the core of the old town as well as the heart of new Middlehaven developments. It is ideal for beginners and something to plan towards now. And remember that it all seems so worthwhile with the wonderful experience of being cheered over the finish line inside the Boro stadium.

Application forms to take part will be available at venues across the town and entries can be submitted online.

For further information and training plans on Runmiddlesbrough events visit



Why Not Parkrun?


The recent Riverside Run was such a success. Whether running 5k or 2k the chance for mere mortals such as ourselves to finish a race with an Olympic style finish lapping the Riverside Stadium was a truly joyful experience. Next up is the Sabic Tees Pride 10k on Sunday 8th September when it seems half of Teesside and beyond turns out to run, jog, walk or crawl around south Middlesbrough. Yeah but how to stay race ready between these runs? Or how to get in some kind of shape to take on the Tees Pride 10k? Why not do what hundreds of other Teesside folk do and parkrun on a Saturday morning? A weekly free timed 5km run.

First things first the new runmiddlesbrough website has lots of handy tips and loads of training runs that you can take part in. You can enter the Tees Pride 10k online on the website.

Why not also run a free timed 5km run every Saturday morning? It is in a park and away from traffic and you will be with lots of friends. This can make it a safer experience for you as well as benefiting from the support of others.

At 9am on a Saturday morning thousands of people of all ages, either gender and all levels of fitness are poised for a starting signal in parks up and down the country. Actually across in Europe and in Australia as well. What started as a fitness run for a bunch of friends in London has developed into an international weekly event. In Middlesbrough Albert parkrun has recently celebrated its fifth birthday. Just across the river, Tees Barrage was one year old last week and Stewart Park has a first birthday in another week’s time.

Parkruns are free to enter. Everyone and everything is completely voluntary. It is also a great community event and you will find you get loads of support from fellow runners all the way round the park circuit. Afterwards you can stagger into a cafe and put all the calories back on with a coffee and big cake. But the great thing is you make friends and everyone is in it together.

Parkrun is a totally fun, 5 km run, not race, around a park near you every Saturday at 9am. All you need to do is register on the site. and you will be given a barcode. Print that barcode off take it with you to the park tomorrow morning and then enjoy your run. At the finish line you will be given a numbered tag and this will be scanned together with your barcode to give you a time. Simple as that but that time can be compared by age to anyone running in the country and can be a target to match or beat next week for yourself.

We can rightly be proud that in Teesside we have one of the highest concentrations of parkruns in the country, in fact Middlesbrough was the first town nationally to get two runs. Albert Park is the grandaddy of all our local parkruns, five years old and regularly attracting near 200 runners a week. They had 356 one week! But don’t worry the runners include slow joggers, stop, starters and even walkers. Everyone can lap the park at their own pace and in good company. Parking is at the Clairville Common end meet at the lakeside cafe where you can leave bags etc.

The newly refurbished Stewart Park is a lovely setting for a Saturday parkrun, with a few extra features in the dramatic new Captain Cook sculptures to look out for along the route between the lakes and wooded glades and over the map of the world. There were nearly 250 runners a couple of weeks ago as popularity grows and grows as the Marton run fast approaches its first birthday.

The start is outside Captain Cook Museum looking down on the park and we finish in the quadrangle by Henry’s Cafe (where you can leave bags and coats etc beforehand) and you’d be foolish to turn down the chance of a cuppa afterwards. If you grab bats for a free game of table tennis afterwards then you haven’t run fast enough I would have to say. Park in the main Ladgate Lane car park.

If you live outside of Middlesbrough there is a parkrun at Tees Barrage, or round Locke Park, Redcar and slightly further afield around the beautifully rejuvenated lake in Hardwick Park at Sedgfield and at South Park, Darlington. You will find free parking at each event and a welcoming cafe at the end of the route.

Go to the site register, print off your barcode. Go to the Events page and look up the details of your nearest parkrun and I’ll maybe see you at the start line tomorrow morning. Remember the start in every park is at 9am sharp. Although put a loud-hailer to their mouths and a couple of these starters like to gas a bit so you might get lucky if you are late, and you might be waiting for starters orders a couple of minutes after nine. That is what I always rely on in any case. I’ll see you tomorrow at Stewart Park, unless I am too late then I’ll see you at Albert Park.


Run Middlesbrough

There were record numbers of over 4,000 runners in this year’s SABIC Tees Pride 10k and 3k fun run. The sun came out, well actually it was red hot which made it a brilliant day to watch but a challenge to run. Not that something like the heat was going to stop Boro fan and proud Teessider Matty Hynes from winning the main race.

Looking back now in the week following the Great North Run it is clear that the whole region is mad for running these days. And with parkruns springing up all over there are opportunities for everyone to get involved on a weekly basis, no matter what the level of (dis)ability, age, gender etc. In this year of the London Olympics and Paralympics we’ve all been inspired to get our running togs on and hit the pavements. Why not, it is a great way to keep fit and socialise at the same time.

There was a superb atmosphere at this year’s Middlesbrough 10k. I guess the sun helped to bring people out to line the entire route, shouting on their very welcome encouragement to the runners. Amongst the VIPs there were representatives of Middlesbrough FC past players in Colin Cooper, Bernie Slaven and present coach Mark Proctor all running for the Finlay Cooper Fund. In fact raising money for charities, many of them local is a driving force behind so many people’s involvement. BBC Breakfast’s business reporter Steph McGovern was helping champion the Teesside Philanthopic Foundation whose chair Andy Preston charged past me somewhere like the 5k mark.

Everyone has their own personal goal, just finishing at all is a good accomplishment for many of us. With 4000 taking part in both races that means more than ever are getting past that Hall Drive finishing line. It all adds up to a fitter town and area. Mind you by the time I had turned into Hall Drive I was fit to drop. But look around you on any evening of the week these days and you’ll always see people out jogging. This is especially true of the 10k course whose route through south Middlesbrough is permanently marked out with kilometre sign posts.

We don’t have to wait around for the Middlesbrough 5k and 10k to keep up the running. Every week now there are regular 5k runs in the parks around our area. Saturday at 9am is the signal for the parkrun starting time when athletes of all shapes, sizes, age, genders and the rest run, jog or walk around measured routes around our parks. This is a national and indeed international movement and locally we are extremely well represented with different runs. Initially it was just Albert Park in Middlesbrough but now there are parkruns at Stewart Park, Marton; Locke Park, Redcar; Tees Barrage and further afield in the beautiful grounds of Hardwick Park, Sedgfield. These runs are totally free.

You can register for these free, voluntarily organised runs at the website

Then you get a barcode. Print that off take it along to the parkrun nearest you and your race time will be timed and recorded. You can then measure your progress not only against yourself and other runners at the event but also nationally and by age group as well.

The parkruns are superb socially too. Usually ending by comparing notes and telling the odd tall tale over a mug of tea in the park cafes. A great healthy way to start the weekend off before spoiling it all with the excesses of a Saturday night (ha ha).

All the details of each local parkrun can be found from the central website – so do go along and keep up the running between Middlesbrough 10ks. Good luck.