From start to finish: The history of Lincoln 10k

— In the first of a four-part feature series ahead of the Lincoln 10k Road Race, we explore the history of the event and the charity motivations behind it.

Since the first race was held in 1997, the Lincoln 10k Road Race has been attracting runners from all over the country and, more recently, from all over the globe.

This Olympic year marks the 16th anniversary of the event that sees competitors racing past the city’s historic landmarks, finishing in the castle grounds.

This year’s main event will take place on Sunday, March 25.

Previously a half marathon, the distance of the race was reduced to 10k (six and a quarter miles) and around 200 runners took part in its first year, a figure that has increased every year since.

“2011 was by far the most popular year, as we were oversubscribed and had to turn some people away. The maximum number of people we can safely have taking part is 5,500 – this was the figure for last year and we’re expecting the same this year,” said Keith Taylor, senior sports development officer at the City of Lincoln Council, organisers of the event.

The popularity of the race is a result of the “fast, flat course” and its setting: “Where else can you run past a gothic cathedral and end the race in the grounds of a Norman Castle? The atmosphere on the day is always electric, so once you’ve done it once, it’s easy to get hooked and want to take part again and again.”

However it may not only be the aesthetics of the route that are heightening the race’s popularity this year, but the Olympics, which is already having a big effect on the city.

Overnight celebrations for the Olympic Torch procession through Lincoln on June 27 will be held at Yarborough Sports Ground, also organised by the City Council.

As previously reported, Lincoln BIG will be helping to celebrate as well, with a big screen in Cornhill and decorating the city’s streets.

This year’s race will be held over two days to engage people before the Olympics: “The Lincoln 10K Sporting Weekend has been devised partly to accommodate the increasingly popular added events, such as the school races and the Buggy Push, giving them their own dedicated day on Saturday, March 24, and to celebrate the Olympic year.”

There will also be free, family friendly ‘come and try it’ sessions at Yarborough Sports Ground and Leisure Centre on the Saturday.

Olympic athletes themselves are no strangers to the Lincoln 10k, most recently with Great Britain’s Bruce Raeside and Matt Bowser taking part.

Racing and giving

Whilst there are those who run competitively, the Lincoln 10k isn’t just about sport. For most people who take part, it’s a great opportunity to raise money for charity.

As much as £9,000 is raised each year for the charities the race chooses to support, and as a result over the last few years Cerebral Palsey Sport has received £30,000, and the British Red Cross, £23,000. This year the money raised will be donated to the Prince’s Trust and Bliss.

Rob Henderson ran the Lincoln 10k last year in aid of Breakthrough Breast Cancer: “In June of 2010 my mum was diagnosed with breast cancer and the 10k was being held on Mother’s Day, so it felt perfect to choose a breast cancer charity as the destination for the funds I raised,” he said.

Henderson says he felt a sense of achievement throughout the whole day and puts this down to the large crowds whose cheering along the route he says was “phenomenal”.

The best part of the day? “Running through the cathedral grounds, through castle square into the castle, that was one of the most euphoric feelings ever.

“Thousands of people were cheering the runners on, you know it’s nearly all over and that you can just push yourself that little bit further.

“My family were waiting for me just before the finish line, so I made sure I gave my mum a Mother’s Day kiss!”

After completing the race in a very respectable 46 minutes 10 seconds, Rob is aiming to run this year’s in under 43 minutes with his friend for a cause close to him.