Royal Sutton Fun Run 2024 as thousands bake in heat and spectators crowd streets and park

Summer has finally arrived and while thousands of spectators in Sutton Coldfield basked, many fun runners at the town’s annual race come charity and community event baked. The Royal Sutton Fun Run returned to the streets and Sutton Park on Sunday (June 2) as almost 5,000 runners, including children and dogs, took on the 8.5-mile hilly route.

Crowds thronged at the start line to watch their family and friends take part in the event, which has been going for more than 40 years and raised more than £5 million for good causes while doing so. Lower Parade, where the buses usually go, and the pedestrianised Parade beyond it, were jam-packed with people, as High Sherriff of the West Midlands, and serial McDonald's franchisee, Doug Wright, got the event underway at 11am

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Some in colourful outfits, like lobsters, the ubiquitous fun run leprechauns, a lion in the shape of former Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce CEO and now The Kids Village interim boss, Paul Faulkner, Rota Spa pulling a hot tub and the Real Life Church with an elephant. There was even a bit of Harry Potter magic with one half of Sutton’s Weasley twins, James Phelps, taking on the event with his mates to raise money for Fragile Society – which helps people with Fragile X Syndrome, which one of his friend’s children suffers from.

At the back of the fields were the big beasts in the shape of a team of firefighers hauling a fire engine. And a team of posties hauling a postal van around the course, which includes the infamous ‘Cardiac Hill’ near Four Oaks Gate – a steep incline well into the 8.5 miles ready to sap your power.

While event director Tracey Spare is keen to stress the fun run ‘is not a race’ – a host of keen club runners beg to differ. Chief among them was Jonathan Carter – who has crossed the finish line first on no less than six occasions – including the last three times post pandemic.

The now 40-year-old from Erdington said he was ‘slower than last year’, with the warm conditions not ideal for distance running. He also said he had been ‘training quite hard this week’.

The Birmingham Running and Triathlon Club runner ran the event for GoodGym where he works. He said “It’s always the crowds which are the best bit about the fun run and I liked the weather! But Cardiac Hill was tough.”

Second was appropriately named David Sutton – who runs for, you guessed it Royal Sutton Coldfield Athletics Club. The 30-year-old, from Great Barr, said this was his ‘best finish’ after taking part a couple of times before. He praised the support at the top of Cardiac Hill – and agreed with Jonathan, that that is the fun run’s hardest part.

Liam Harrold, finished third and ran close to his home during the event which is in Jockey Road. The 35-year-old said: “I really like the event and do it every year. This was the hottest one I have ever done.

“My little girl Gracie, 6, and little boy Finlay, 2, were out giving me support with their nan and grandad. The hardest bit was Cardiac Hill and the weather.”

The first woman over the line was Hayley Carruthers, but she disagreed with the men and found Cardiac Hill a breeze! The 31-year-old who lives in Aldridge and runs for Tipton Harriers, came first in her first go at the fun run.

She said: “My goal was to set off conservatively. My boyfiend, Perrie. had joked ‘I don’t class you as a runner until you win the Sutton Fun Run.” So job done there!

Hayley added: “I liked the uphills. The downhills were horrific as they kill your quads. I liked Cardiac Hill. It gives you a mental boost as everyone is coming back to you!”

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Second woman home was Elizabeth Watters who runs for Birchfield Harriers. The 34-year-old who has finished first a few times including in 2022 said: “It was very hot. I liked any downhill and didn’t like Cardiac Hill.”

After the front runners came a steady stream of runners hauling themselves over the finish line, some in fancy dress from rubber rings, to full-on red lobster outfits – at least under that they won’t get sunburnt! While some were running in memory of loved ones, and others out with family, friends and and their four-legged faithful friends.

Many were relieved to come down Mill Street and cross the finish line in the Parade – where they were handed a coveted 2024 Royal Sutton Fun Run medal and could celebrate their achievement with a pint, an ice cream or simply a well-earned rest.