Spectators are being urged to show their support as hundreds of runners take on this year’s Hanley Economic Building Society Potters ’Arf Marathon.
The event – on Sunday, September 26 – will see more than 1,700 participants tackling the 13.1-mile course, which includes challenging sections such as Anchor Road and the infamous ‘Heartbreak Hill’ on Milton Road.
Runners – including the first leg of the relay teams – will gather in Huntbach Street, Hanley, and then start at 10.30am from Potteries Way, finishing back in the city centre at the Sir Stanley Matthews statue near the intu Potteries Shopping Centre.
Walkers start at 9am, while the 1,000-metre junior race – for young people aged between six and 15 – begins at 10.50am.
More details about the route and timings are available on the ‘race day’ section of the web pages at https://www.stoke.gov.uk/pottersarf
Everyone who finishes the Potters ’Arf receives a goody bag, as well as a medal created by Wade Ceramics.
Race winners receive stunning trophies made by pottery company Emma Bridgewater and the top teams get fantastic ‘gluggle jugs’ created by Stoke-on-Trent’s Wade Ceramics.
Trophy presentations will take place on a stage near the race finishing line at about 1pm.
The Potters ’Arf is one of the most unique, community-spirited races in the UK, with amazing support across Stoke-on-Trent, a wonderful atmosphere at the city centre finish and fantastic challenges.
It also raises thousands of pounds for local charities – including the main causes the Douglas Macmillan Hospice and The Alice Charity.
Lead event organiser Stoke-on-Trent City Council, race partners and sponsors want this year’s event to be a shining ray of hope in 2021.
Councillor Lorraine Beardmore, Stoke-on-Trent City Council cabinet member for public health, culture and leisure, said: “The Potters ‘Arf is one of the most unique and inspiring half marathons in the country – and one of the best occasions on Stoke-on-Trent’s calendar. It’s going to be absolutely incredible to see competitors take to the streets of our wonderful city once again after the decision was taken to cancel last year’s event.
“And what an amazing comeback it’s going to be, with more than 1,700 participants signing up to take on the run, walk, relay or 1k junior event – that’s our biggest ever pre-race sign up. Given the difficulties faced this year, and the fact that lots of races have had to schedule their events around this time – it shows just how popular the Potters ’Arf continues to be. Runners have chosen Stoke-on-Trent’s road race as the place to be.
“The support on the Potters ’Arf route is always something special and the atmosphere at the city centre finish is amazing, and given our record number of pre-race sign ups, I’d love to see a record number of people lining the streets of our fair city and in the city centre to cheer on and support all those taking part. As always I’ll be out with my family giving everyone taking part the encouragement they deserve to complete this unique course.
“Our council teams and partner organisations have worked for months to ensure this race can go ahead. That teamwork, and the support of people across the city, is a fantastic example of how Stoke-on-Trent comes together for events like this. It is a shining example of the amazing community spirit and passion for sport that this city has. Good luck to everyone who’s taking part – it’s going to be an event to remember.”
David Lownds, head of sales, marketing and business development at the Hanley Economic Building Society, said: “Hanley Economic Building Society has proudly sponsored the Potters ’Arf for more than 15 years now. The event is a true reflection of community spirit, with runners walkers and supporters coming together and we are pleased to be at the heart of it – good luck to everyone taking part this year.”
The 2021 race will see special tributes to event founder Don Shelley, who sadly passed away earlier this year. This year’s individual women’s and men’s winners’ trophies, created by Stoke-on-Trent pottery firm Emma Bridgewater, will include the wording ‘In memory of Potters ’Arf Founder, Don Shelley’ and the running t-shirts will also have a printed tribute to the inspirational organiser.
Mr Shelley founded the Potteries Marathon in 1982 and the race went on to become the Potters ‘Arf in 2005. He also set up the North Staffs Road Runners Association in 1974, which now has hundreds of members, and he is credited with helping to bring road running to the masses locally.
Mr Shelley, from Stone, sadly died aged 84 on February 7.
His granddaughters, Eve and Beth, will take part in the 13.1-mile walking section of this year’s Potters ’Arf in his memory.
Mr Shelley’s wife, Gill, said: “What the city council are doing as a tribute is really nice. I can’t put it in to words what it means to us. We really do appreciate everything that the organisers are doing.”
Participants and spectators are being encouraged to use the hashtag #PottersArf on social media to post messages, pictures and video of their Potters ’Arf experience.
Entries for this year’s Potters ’Arf have now closed. Details of how to apply for next year’s race are set to be revealed following the start of the 2021 event. Watch this space at https://www.stoke.gov.uk/pottersarf
More information including details of facilities, the route and timings, the junior fun run, and directions to the event is available at https://www.stoke.gov.uk/pottersarf
There will be a number of road closures during the Potters ’Arf. Information about these is available at roadworks.org