INSPIRATIONAL soldiers, ex rugby stars, top local athletes and plenty of fund-raising fun runners all lined up for the inaugural St Helens 10K on Sunday morning.
Braving chilly, overcast conditions, the 699 runners set off on the undulating town centre course at 10am after Mayor of St Helens Neil Taylor sent them on their way.
Starting in the Birchley Street car park, the runners set off on two laps of North Road and Victoria Park - before finishing back at the car park.
Among the hordes of runners was ex Saints star Steve Prescott MBE, whose organisation helped bring the Hattons Solicitors-sponsored event to life, his ex teammates Paul Sculthorpe and Tommy Martyn and current Saints coach Royce Simmons.
Steve, 37, who has been battling a rare form of stomach cancer since 2006, was raising vital funds for the Christie Hospital and Try Assist, rugby league’s benevolent fund.
Also taking part was hero St Helens soldier Corporal Andy Reid, 34, who lost his right arm and both legs in a bomb blast while serving with the 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment in Afghanistan.
But that hasn’t stopped Cpl Reid, of Thatto Heath, from completing a series of daunting charity missions, including a Land’s End to John O’Groats motorbike ride and a tandem skydive!
The inspirational triple amputee, who walks with prosthetic limbs, completed two miles of the route alongside Private Josh Moxon.
Pte Moxon, 20, who had been first on the scene following the devastating IED explosion, joined his section commander in raising money for ABF The Soldiers’ Charity.
He said: “In Afghanistan, Cpl Reid was more like a father figure than a commander, always putting the lads before himself whilst always remaining the total professional. Since his accident he has shined like the brightest star - his motivation and determination towards life is astonishing.
“There are no words that can truly describe what an amazing person he is, he really is an inspiration to us all.”
Fittingly, the winners of the St Helens 10K both hail from St Helens/Sutton AC.
John Ashcroft crossed the line in 33m13s and Gemma Connolly was the first woman back in 36m26s.
Saints conditioner Matt Daniels finished in 37m37s, Phil Clarke, of Sky Sports, in 39m18s, Paul Sculthorpe in 44m51s, Royce Simmons in 48m55s and Steve Prescott in 55m5s. St Helens Reporter advertising manager Chris Jennings completed the course in 43m12s.
Next year, organisers hope to start and finish the event at the new Saints stadium.