This weekend, the local community comes to Madejski Stadium as the annual Half Marathon reaches its climax at the Royals' home for the 15th successive year!
Having opted for the shorter-distance half marathon, when first conceiving the idea of a running race around Reading, the town’s first race started and finished at Reading University’s Whiteknights Park on Sunday 13th March 1983.
Three years later, the race moved to the South Reading Leisure Centre, before a new Thames-side starting and finishing line was created at Rivermead in 1990. By 2003, the race – open to fun runners and elite athletes – was attracting almost 10,000 annual runners and Madejski Stadium’s East Stand was chosen as the new end point for 2004’s faster and flatter route.
15 years on and the Half Marathon is still reaching it's climax in front of the West Stand at Reading's home!
In 2006, the stadium wasn't just the finishing line but also the race’s main site, with the starter’s gun now sounding in the adjacent Green Park business estate. A kit marquee was erected, temporary toilets ordered in, massage tents and trade stands appeared as music blared out across the car park to create an atmosphere of excitement and anticipation.
On Sunday, huge crowds will once again gather at Madejski Stadium to see loved ones struggle into the stadium for their final stumbling steps and dip over the line with their last ounce of energy.
There will be a huge number of Reading fans hoping to beat their personal best this weekend with blue and white hooped shirts easy to pick out from the crowds - and the Community Trust's Assistant Disability Officer and Activities Coach, Craig Peters, is one of a number of Reading Football Club staff also running this weekend.
Craig is raising money for Reading FC Community Trust - the charitable arm of our football club. All money raised will help support their special educational needs programmes which provide opportunities for young people in the local area to get involved in sport, as well as pathways into employment and much more!
To support Craig's fundraising, head to justgiving.com/fundraising/run4myability
Good luck to everyone who lines up on the starting line on Sunday!