Thousands of runners and spectators descended on Durham over the weekend for the biggest Durham City Run Festival to date. Over 3,000 participants had signed up for the schedule of races and other running events, and they were cheered on by big crowds, despite some wet weather. Runners and spectators were also entertained with performances by acts involved in Durham BRASS.

The 2023 Durham City Run Festival was organised by Events of the North, in partnership with Durham County Council and Durham University. The festival kicked off on the evening of Thursday 13 July with teams of two taking on the XO Urban Orienteering challenge around the city centre – among them were athletics legends Steve Cram and Paula Radcliffe.

The morning of Friday 14 July saw the first of a series of free themed runs, when Durham Mums on the Run led a ‘Buggy Warm Up’. Friday evening saw the ever popular Durham City 5k and 10k races return to their original start and finish locations. Big fields of runners followed undulating routes around the historic city centre, starting on Saddler Street and finishing at the World Heritage Site on Palace Green, with the backdrop of Durham Cathedral and Castle. Along with leading club athletes from around the region, there were runners of all ages and experiencing, including many who were raising funds for good causes, such as official event charity Red Sky Foundation.

The winner of the 2023 Durham City 10k was Dougie Musson in 32 minutes and 29 seconds. Stephen Jackson of Sunderland Harriers was second in 32:51, with clubmate Liam Taylor third in 33:18. The women’s race was won by Charlotte Dillon of Houghton Harriers in 36:17, followed by Sarah Mcnutt (39:42) and Imogen Bungay of Elswick Harriers (39:55). The 2023 Durham City 5k was won by Chris Perkins of Blackley North Manchester AC in 16:21, with Duncan Hughes of Blackhill Bounders in second (16:42) and Kieran Reay of Morpeth Harriers in third (16:44). Nicole Burlinson won the women’s race in 18:12, ahead of Katie Francis of Blackley North Manchester AC (18:41) and Poppie Phillipson of Birtley AC (19:15).

On the morning of Saturday 15 July, 65 teams of between three and five runners took part in Paula Radcliffe’s Families on Track at Durham Racecourse. This 10k relay event had made its global debut in Durham in 2019 and is designed to encourage families to get active together, with an emphasis on fun. Paula returned to Durham to supervise this year’s Families on Track, which once again delivered an entertaining morning for all involved.

Throughout the Saturday, runners took on the iconic mile distance in the Run Like A Legend Mile challenge, on a fast, flat route along the river. Horrible Histories creator Terry Deary brought the festival to a close by leading a ‘Deadly Durham’ run through the historic streets of the city, with stops along the way to hear terrible tales where they happened.

Event founder Steve Cram comments: “This was the biggest Durham City Run Festival to date and it really delivered. We were excited about bringing the 5k and 10k back to Palace Green and our runners clearly loved finishing there, once they’d got the hill out of the way! It was brilliant to welcome Paula back to Durham for another great Families on Track event, which was as lively and entertaining as ever. The themed runs encouraged even more people to get active and Terry’s Deadly Durham run was a lovely way to round off three fantastic days.

“Our thanks go to Durham County Council and Durham University, whose support made it possible to hold this amazing festival across the city, and to all of the volunteers who make so many vital contributions. It’s been another brilliant festival and we’re already looking forward to 2024.”

Cllr James Rowlandson, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for resources, investment and assets, said: “It’s been a truly fantastic weekend in our wonderful city and county with both Durham Brass and Durham City Run Festival proving real successes. It’s been great to see people of all ages and backgrounds coming out to join in, or simply watch, both events and to see so many smiling faces at each.

“Durham Brass and Durham City Run are mainstays in our events calendar and provide a great economic boost for our county by drawing in people who spend money here and make repeat visits.

Of course the run has the added bonus of allowing people to exercise in a fun way with family and friends and we hope everyone has enjoyed a brilliant weekend however they’ve spent it.”

Quentin Sloper, director of experience at Durham University, comments: “The vibrancy that this year’s Durham City Run Festival brought to our city centre was fantastic, and the celebration of sport and physical activity was great to see. We were pleased to see so many of our staff, students and alumni taking part alongside the local community, families, running clubs and many others. The festival really helped us to celebrate Durham University’s recognition as the current Times Sports University of the Year. We look forward to continuing to support the event next year and we know that there are exciting plans to grow the festival still further.”