Race History

Posted by in Information, on 12.10.2016

The first marathon race in Sheffield, the Sheffield Independent Marathon, was held in 1929 and started in Barkers Pool, finishing at the Niagra Sports Ground. It was held for a further 2 years with some course changes, and was then discontinued until after world war 2.

The Doncaster to Sheffield Marathon was first held in 1946, running between Chequer Road, Doncaster, visiting Rotherham and finishing at Sheffield Station. The course was slightly altered in 1960, and was last staged in 1961.Following the 1981 London Marathon, a marathon boom occurred in Great Britain.

Sheffield introduced the Sheffield Marathon and Half Marathon in 1982, starting in Hillsborough near the Sheffield Wednesday football ground and finishing in Hillsborough Park. The Half Marathon finished in Tinsley Park for the first 2 years, then changed to a Hillsborough Park finish.The venue for the race changed to Don Valley Stadium in 1991 when it was run in conjunction with the World Student Games Marathon. (The Half Marathon was not held that year.)

Except for 1993, when Sheffield United FC hosted the race at their Bramhall lane ground, it has been run from Don Valley Stadium to the present day. The course has incurred many alterations over recent years, caused in part by the introduction of the Supertram system, and partly due to competition for road space resulting from greatly increased traffic when Sunday trading was legalised. In 2001, the route went to Rotherham, visiting Orgreave and using less busy roads. It was a 2 lap course for full marathon runners but was not a popular route.

The course was altered in 2003 to its present route through the city centre, with the full marathon continuing to Orgreave for its 2nd half. However full marathon numbers continued to fall and difficulties with maintaining a 6 hour road closure continued to rise so 2003 became the last year when a full marathon was held in Sheffield.A lull in road race popularity in the early nineties resulted in Half Marathon entries dropping as low as 1545 in 1996.

Since then participation has risen every year, totalling 5500 in 2009, 2010 and 2011 when the race limit was reached. The city centre route has produced large crowds of spectators who give tremendous support to the runners, and attractions such as bands playing on the route adding to the occasion. The finish before the crowds in the Don Valley Stadium is cited by many runners as a unique experience.(Acknowledgement made to Malcolm Douthwaite for much of this background information.)