IT was a record turnout at the eighth annual St Helens 10k today, which saw hundreds of runners take to the streets to take on the sporting event which is a highlight of the town's calendar.

Organisers believe up to 1,000 spectators lined the streets to watch the event unfold.

Among the 2,000-strong competitors were many personal achievements and inspiring personal stories.

Matt Crehan was the first man over the line in 31mins 22s and the first-placed woman was Kelly Hamilton, in 40mins 16s.

Matt, 26, from Newton-le-Willows, who is the chairman of St Helens Sutton AC, said: “I feel great, it’s been tough because I’ve been injured this week after a tough race last Saturday, so I was just seeing how I went.

“But I felt good out there and was going for the course record that was the aim.

“It’s great to run in the home town and the support has been brilliant, it was great seeing all the others out there as well and cheering them on as I went past, it’s great fun.

“This is my second year doing it, I was second last year after my good mate John Ashcroft and I’ve just beat his record, so I’m sure he’ll be back next year to have another crack at it.”

Matt got back into the sport in 2016 after not running for eight years and weighing in at 14 stone.

He added: “After a major life event, I decided to get back to something I knew I loved, my mum was an Olympic marathon runner and my dad was an Olympic coach, so getting back to running was important to me.

“I turned my life around and now I’m ranked 15th in the country for 5k.”

St Helens Star:

The parents of Violet-Grace and Isabella Rose embrace at the finish line 

It was an emotional day for many, but none more so than Becky and Glenn Youens, who opened this year’s event in memory of their daughter Violet-Grace who died in a hit and run in March last year - aged four.

This was their first 10k, where they counted down the rest of the competitors and ran the event, before ending at the finish line together.

Becky and Glenn were joined by the Isabella Rose Foundation’s Amanda Pope and Geoff Parr, whose daughter was stillborn in October 2011.

The two families joined forces after Violet’s tragic death and have supported each other’s charities.

Becky, 30, said: “I ran without stopping, it’s the first I’ve ran ever I’m well chuffed.

“I just kept on thinking of our angels Violet and Isabella that’s what got me through.”

Glenn added: “It was quite emotional seeing all the pink tops with Isabella and Violet on them.

“The town and the team just come together, everyone is cheering everyone on and it makes you want to carry on and do more.

“Rebecca did her first run without stopping as well, it was amazing.”

Becky added: “It’s something really positive.”

This year each runner of the 10k received a form with information regarding organ donation, so that other lives may potentially be saved in Violet-Grace’s memory.

Geoff Parr, Isabella’s dad, added: “We are just glad we could help them along, when the tragedy happened to them, our children went to school together and it’s a natural thing that we have been there to help them

“I’m just glad to achieve things like this with Becky and Glenn because it’s giving them something back and it’s helping them help others and we know that that’s the best feeling.

“Seeing Becky do that then without stopping was absolutely amazing, she plays it down, but she was absolutely amazing, I’m so proud of her.”

Becky added: “Violet and Harry (Amanda Pope and Geoff Parr’s son – Isabella’s brother) were best friends at school.

“He had a massive influence on her life I know they were always dancing around in school together and I know that now Violet and Isabella are dancing around in heaven and looking after each other.”

Also, among the North Road survivors were Ann-Marie Barrow, 35, widow of former rugby league player Tony, and Linzi Prescott, widow of Steve, who ran her eighth 10k.

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