The annual 5k Riverside Run has been renamed in tribute to BBC Tees’ ‘Voice of the Boro’ who died in February after a short battle with cancer
It was an emotional day at the Riverside Stadium as over 1,000 runners gathered at the start line for the Ali Brownlee Cleveland Centre 5k Riverside Run .
In what Alastair’s daughter Alison described as a “wonderful gesture”, the annual 5k Riverside Run has been renamed in tribute to BBC Tees’ ‘Voice of the Boro’ who died in February after battling cancer.
The popular road race takes entrants from the Riverside Stadium past some of the town’s most striking landmarks including Temenos and the Transporter Bridge, before a memorable finish beside the hallowed turf inside the stadium.
Speaking to The Gazette before Ali’s wife, Wendy, got the race underway, Alison said: “It’s been an emotional day.
“It’s been amazing to come down here today and see people in their ‘One of Our Own’ t-shirts. I was just not expecting that at all.
“To see just how much he was loved by the town he loved is amazing.
“But then there’s other things like when I took a selfie outside the stadium - that’s the kind of thing I would usually send him - it’s very bittersweet.
“I want to thank everyone and wish them all good luck today.”
The mood of the day hadn’t escaped the participants as they limbered up outside the stadium.
Gary Dack, a member of Billingham Marsh House Harriers, was running today with his family.
The 52-year-old radiographer from Billingham said: “Ali was a local legend, Boro through and through.
“This race starts and finishes at the Riverside Stadium - it’s a fitting tribute to the guy to name the race after him.”
Jane Harvey was running with 25 friends for Cervical Screening Saves Lives.
The 37-year-old, from Guisborough, said: “We want to promote screening and we want to make sure ladies have had their smear test.
“We’ve got 25 of us running today - for the majority of them, this is their first 5K.”
The healthy living advisor who knew Ali through his work with charity group The Fat Lads on Bikes and Phat Lasses in Trainers added: “It’s a bit of an emotional feeling today. Ali was a ‘Fat Lad’ with us.
“He was so gentlemanly and so kind. We’re proud to be running under his name today.”
Rob Nichols, editor of Boro fanzine Fly Me To The Moon, was also taken aback by the poignancy of the day.
He said: “Alastair was a big part of this race.
“The big thing was finishing with Ali’s voice commentating as you crossed the line. He was the voice of these races.
“It’s nice to be able to do it in his honour today.”