Stoke-on-Trent’s Potters ‘Arf returns

Stoke-on-Trent’s Potters ‘Arf marathon returned on Sunday and saw around 1,500 people take part including a ‘bunny’, numerous soldiers and even a barefoot runner. 

Most of those participating select a local charity to run in aid of, meaning thousands was raised for great causes.

More than £1million has been raised by the Potters ‘Arf in the past 30 years, estimates Stoke-on-Trent City Council, all of which goes towards helping the local community. 

Most run in classic professional gear, but this year some people chose to do something more unusual. 

For example, one woman ran dressed as a Rabbit in aid of Fluffy Butts Rescue, one man wore a heart costume to support Cardiac Risk in the Young, there were even a few local soldiers running in full miliary kit and one man who ran barefoot. 

Paul got his nickname from running barefoot and ‘Blade’ after his favourite football team. Image: Barefoot Blade Paul.

Barefoot Blade Paul began running shoeless in April 2020 after suffering injuries in his shins whilst wearing trainers – he hasn’t worn shoes whilst running since. 

He said: “People always say things like ‘you’ve got no shoes on, someone’s nicked your shoes’ things like that but I keep reassuring people that if it hurt I wouldn’t do it.”

Paul finished the race in 2:29:32. 

The Potters ‘Arf is a 13.1 mile run through the heart of Staffordshire, starting in Hanley city centre and passing through Shelton, Longton, Bucknall and Baddeley Green before crossing the finish line situated next to the infamous Sir Stanley Matthews statue in Hanley. 

The annual race began in 1982 as the Potteries Marathon and went on to become The Potters ‘Arf Marathon in 2005. 

The race is held every June, although it was cancelled in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and moved to September in 2021 due to such restrictions. 

Organised by Stoke-on-Trent City Council, they said: “The Potters ‘Arf has huge mental and physical health benefits as well as raising thousands of pounds for local charities.” 

As well as the standard half marathon, there is also a walk, relay race and 1k or 2k children’s races. 

Karen Beckett is a guide runner for visually impaired Kath Brooks in the first part of the relay race. 

She ran this year in aid of Staffordshire Sight Loss Association, inspired by the fact that there are currently over 16,000 people affected by sight loss in Staffordshire. 

She said: “I’ve run the Potters ‘Arf twice and I said I would never do it again but when Kath contacted me I couldn’t say no because I do enjoy it apart from all of the hills!

“Once I have left Kath after the first part of the relay, I will be completing the rest of the half marathon.”

Karen finished the race in 2:19:40. 

The Potters ‘Arf is well known as one of the UK’s most challenging half marathons because the route is so hilly – the bank at around the 11-mile mark has even been nicknamed ‘Heartbreak Hill’.

Sponsored this year by Hanley Economic, the race gives The Dougie Mac and The Alice Charity £1500 each and in return, they provide 18 volunteers to help marshal the course. 

The Dougie Mac provides free hospice services to over 3,500 local people with life-limiting illnesses across Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire as well as supporting families of those affected. 

Based on the principles of safety, warmth and compassion, The Alice Charity supports local disadvantaged and vulnerable families by providing emergency food supplies and essential household items. 

Dan Tranter has ran 14 half marathons in total, nine in full military kit. 

Dan ran in aid of a different charity every year for the past 12 years, and this year he ran for The Peter Pan Centre

He said: “I’ve always wanted to work with kids with disabilities and this is my way of doing that.”

Dan completed the race in 2:55:16. 

Dan with the 40 pound bag on his back. Image: Dan Tranter.

Grace Ranford, running as part of Newcastle Staffs Athletics Club, finished in fifth place out of the women in only 1:28:26.

Registrations are now open for the 2023 Potters ‘Arf

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