Potters ’Arf Marathon organisers aim to bring back race in September

Published: Friday, 29th January 2021

Stoke-on-Trent’s iconic half marathon, the Hanley Economic Building Society Potters ’Arf, is due to return on September 26 after provisional plans were revealed for hundreds of runners to take part.

Stoke-on-Trent’s iconic half marathon is due to return on September 26 after organisers revealed provisional plans for hundreds of runners to take part.

Participants are being asked to hold the date in their diaries for the Hanley Economic Building Society Potters ’Arf, while the final details for the hugely popular race are put together.

The team behind the event are expecting to open online entries for runners, walkers, relay teams and junior competitors in the next few weeks.

Last year’s Potters ’Arf was cancelled in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Stoke-on-Trent City Council called off the race in consultation with Hanley Economic, race sponsors and charities as part of its response to the outbreak.

It had originally been hoped that a 2021 event could take place on the traditional date of the second Sunday in June.

However, following the latest Government and national sporting body advice, organisers are now aiming for Sunday, September 26.

Councillor Lorraine Beardmore, Stoke-on-Trent City Council cabinet member for public health, culture and leisure, said: “The Potters ’Arf Marathon is an iconic part of the Stoke-on-Trent calendar and, now that mass vaccinations are under way in Stoke-on-Trent and across the country, we are hopeful that this race can be a shining light of hope as we move through 2021. I love watching the ’Arf - I’ve been to see it every year on Anchor Road and there’s definitely no other event quite like it in the UK. 

“The safety of our residents and participants is of the upmost importance to us and we will, of course, be regularly reviewing the guidance provided by the Government and England Athletics in the run-up to the event. But we’re very optimistic that the race will be able to go ahead in September.

“We have sections for walkers, relay teams and a free junior event as well, so there are lots of ways to get involved. A really important part of the event for us is encouraging people to take on a new challenge, take up exercise and train for the race or walk. It’s a great boost for mental and physical health and the impacts of the pandemic have highlighted just how important those things always are.

“One of the other major benefits of bringing back the race is that it also raises thousands of pounds for charities. Given the amount charities have done for their communities over the past year, and the difficulties they’ve faced during the outbreak, it would be fantastic to be able to give something back to them again by raising as much money as possible.”

The city council is writing to all participants who deferred their places from the cancelled 2020 event to invite them to the 2021 race.

The Potters ’Arf includes walking and relay team sections for those who do not want to run the full distance.

There is also a free 1,000-metre junior race for youngsters aged six to 15 years old.

Organisers hope that around 2,000 participants will be able to tackle the 13.1-mile course.

Over the past 17 years more than 30,000 people have taken part in the Potters ’Arf.

Since it first started, the event has also raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for charities – including the two main causes the Douglas Macmillan Hospice and the Donna Louise Trust.

David Lownds, head of marketing and business development at the Hanley Economic Building Society, said: “Hanley Economic is pleased to continue our support of the Potters ‘Arf. The event is a fantastic way to bring the local community together and after such turbulent times, we hope this year’s event brings back some fun!”