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Potters ’Arf Marathon tributes to race founder Don Shelley

Published: Friday, 28th May 2021

Two Potters ’Arf Marathon trophies will include tributes to event founder Don Shelley, who sadly passed away. His granddaughters are also planning to take part in the walking section in his memory.

Two Potters ’Arf Marathon trophies will include tributes to event founder Don Shelley, who sadly passed away earlier this year.

Mr Shelley’s granddaughters, Beth and Eve Darlow, are also planning to take part in the event’s walking section in his memory.

Special race t-shirts will also carry a tribute to the inspirational organiser.

Mr Shelley founded the Potteries Marathon in 1982 and the race went on to become the Potters 'Arf in 2005.

He also set up the North Staffs Road Runners Association in 1974, which now has hundreds of members, and he is credited with helping to bring road running to the masses locally.

Mr Shelley, from Stone, sadly died aged 84 on February 7.

His wife, Gill, said: “What the city council have suggested as a tribute is really nice. I can’t put it in to words what it means to us. We really do appreciate everything that the organisers are doing.”

Mr Shelley’s granddaughters Eve, aged 20, and Beth, 26, will take part in the 13.1-mile walking section of this year’s Potters ’Arf.

Gill said: “I would like to thank each and every person who has paid tribute to Don for your kind words and messages. My family and I found them of great comfort at this sad time, so thank you to everyone. I know Don would be most appreciative. Can I say a special thank you to Ken Rushton, Peter Bailey, Norman Deakin and Mick Thacker, who remained true friends right to the end.”

So far more than 1,100 people have signed up for the Hanley Economic Potters ’Arf Marathon on September 26 – and places remain open at www.stoke.gov.uk/pottersarf

Lead event organiser Stoke-on-Trent City Council, race partners and sponsors want to remember Mr Shelley at this year’s event and have worked with the family on the tributes.

This year’s individual women’s and men’s winners’ trophies, created by Stoke-on-Trent pottery firm Emma Bridgewater, will now include the wording ‘In memory of Potters ’Arf Founder, Don Shelley’ and the running t-shirts will also have a printed tribute.

Councillor Lorraine Beardmore, cabinet member for public health, culture and leisure, said: “What Mr Shelley did and the legacy he has left across the Staffordshire running community and beyond is truly inspirational. It’s absolutely right that we pay tribute to him at this year’s race and we want to do everything we can to mark what Mr Shelley achieved in an incredible life.

“The Potters ’Arf is one of the city’s most iconic events and, because of Mr Shelley’s amazing work, it has brought so many benefits for the area. The ’Arf has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for local charities, it’s had a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of so many residents, and it supports our businesses who benefit from the influx of runners and spectators. Equally as important, it’s fantastic for community spirit in Stoke-on-Trent, bringing people together across the route and celebrating this wonderful city and its people. It’s one of those events that brings out the best in our city. Those benefits will be felt for many years to come and we will always be indebted to Mr Shelley for the huge impact he made and the inspirational man he was - it’s a pair of shoes no one will ever be able to fill.”

The Potters ’Arf has a hugely popular 13.1-mile run, as well as a half marathon walk, a relay section for teams of two to four, and a 1,000-metre junior race.

It is one of the most unique, community-spirited races in the UK, with amazing support across Stoke-on-Trent, a wonderful atmosphere at the city centre finish, special Potteries medals created by Wade Ceramics and fantastic challenges.

The Potters’ Arf also raises thousands of pounds for local charities – including the main causes the Douglas Macmillan Hospice and The Alice Charity.

The city council, its race partners and sponsors want this year’s event to be a shining ray of hope in 2021, with as many people as possible taking part.

More information about the Potters ’Arf - including entry details, the latest news, race day information, and results - is available at https://www.stoke.gov.uk/pottersarf

People can also sign up to a new Potters 'Arf e-bulletin by visiting www.stoke.gov.uk/stayconnected

Potters ’Arf stats:

  • The event began as the Potteries Marathon in 1982, which went on to become the Potters 'Arf Marathon in 2005.
  • Since it began, more than 30,000 people have taken part in the Potters ’Arf.
  • It’s estimated that, since it began, the Potters ’Arf has raised more than £1 million for charities.
  • There are more than 80 volunteers who help on the day.
  • The men’s course record was set in 2018 - Matt Clowes, Cardiff AAC, 1:06:53.
  • The women’s course record was set in 2015 - Michelle Ross-Cope, City Of Stoke AC, 1:14:31.
  • Around 1,700 people took part in the 2019 event.
  • The 2021 event is the 16th Potters ’Arf in its current form.

How to sign up: Runners, walkers, relay teams and junior race participants can sign up now at www.stoke.gov.uk/pottersarf

Unaffiliated runner: (minimum age 17 years) £27
UKA affiliated runner: (minimum age 17 years) £25
Walker (minimum age 17 years) £22
Relay team of 2 to 4 people (minimum age 16 years) - £37.80
Junior (minimum age 6 years old, maximum age 15 years old – under 9s must be accompanied by a responsible adult 16+) £6.30
*All costs are subject to a website processing fee

Four events:

Main race: 13.1-mile run. Participants gather at Huntbach Street in Hanley, where the buzz is amazing. After a short walk, they then start on Potteries Way at 10.30am to cheers from the supporters. There’s a great atmosphere, with encouragement from residents and our amazing team around the route. The event follows a well-marshalled route, finishing back in the city centre to more cheering crowds near the Sir Stanley Matthews statue.

Relay: There’s a brilliant relay team section for those who do not want to run the full 13.1 miles. This can be done in groups of between 2 and 4 so you can split the route up between you. It's a great way of taking part, without having to run the full course. The stages for four runners range from 1.7miles to 4.7miles and are detailed on the race day information page.

Walk: 13.1-mile walk. Participants start at 9am, outside Marks and Spencers in Upper Market Square, Hanley. The walk has a fantastic atmosphere and, because you've set off earlier in the morning, you finish around the same time as the runners – to cheers from the crowds! 

Junior race: The 1,000-metre junior race - starting at 10.50am - is for young people aged between six and 15 (under-9s must be accompanied by an adult). This provides a fantastic opportunity for children to take part and many previous entrants have gone on to take on the main event. 

Prizes: Everyone who finishes receives a goody bag, as well as the special Potters 'Arf medal created by Wade Ceramics, including time bonus ribbons. Winners' trophy presentations take place after the event.

Hanley Economic Building Society: Hanley Economic Building Society is the headline sponsor. As a local organistaion, the company wants to support local poeple, local businesses and local events. The iconic Potters ‘Arf highlights Stoke-on-Trent like no other event. Hanley Economic supports the event with volunteers, hosting planning meetings, organisation, promotion and running costs. For more information, click here

Covid-secure: The safety of residents and participants is of the upmost importance and race organisers will be regularly reviewing the guidance provided by the Government and England Athletics in the run-up to the event.

2020 entrants: Deferred entrants from the cancelled 2020 event have been contacted separately with information on how to enter with a unique deferral code. Deferred entrants have until May 30 2021 to register. For information on deferred entries, email potters.arf@stoke.gov.uk

For more information, visit https://www.stoke.gov.uk/pottersarf