IT was the community sporting event many feared would never happen....

But against the odds the Carlisle Half Marathon, 10km, and Fun Run went ahead as planned, giving hundreds of enthusiastic competitors what may be their last chance for months to enjoy a community running event that took them through the heart of historic Carlisle.

Along with several other cities across the UK, the popular Sunday morning event defied the nation’s coronavirus fears and went ahead as planned.

About 1,500 took part - up by around 400 compared to last year, said delighted organiser Mike James. Many came from outside the area. “I think the turnout was incredible when you consider what’s going on in this country right now,” said Mike.

“It shows that people are desperate to do this - possibly the last event like this for months. The atmosphere was fantastic - more incredible than it usually is. It has obviously changed.”

The event would normally see runners crossing the line and hugging, high-fiving, and shaking hands with people as they celebrate achieving their goal. But with fears of Covid-19 at the forefront of everybody’s mind, that behaviour became a thing of the past, said Mike.

“I must have elbow-pumped 300 people,” he said.

“It showed how people are listening to the news and taking notice of the advice. But you could tell that people were enjoying themselves. It felt like this was just one big family getting on with the event.”

Among the runners taking part was 30-year-old Emma Taylor, a member of the Denton Holme based running group DH Runners.

She had originally planned to complete the half marathon but switched to the 10km, crossing the line in one hour and three minutes.

Emma said: “The atmosphere was really good and it was a really nice event. I think that from next week a lot of these events will be stopped [because of coronavirus].”

She was particularly thrilled with the route, which saw competitors completing their run by arriving at Carlisle United’s Brunton Park stadium before a cheering crowd.”It was pretty exciting,” she said. “Not many races have that.”

The race’s route took in most of the city centre’s key landmarks, including the Citadel, the Cathedral, and the Lanes Shopping Centre.