Last Saturday (May 27), over 700 runners gathered in Stanley Park for the ninth annual Run For The 97 5K and 1 Mile fun runs.
The community legacy fun run was first staged in 2015 as a positive inclusive event to celebrate and honour the lives of the 97 Liverpool Football Club fans who lost their lives at Hillsborough on 15 April 1989.
The event also remembers the families of The 97 and the survivors, who have since tirelessly fought for justice with the utmost dignity. And who now campaign for the introduction of the Hillsborough Law.
Run For The 97 was attended by special guests including former Everton FC player and Everton in the Community Ambassador Ian Snodin; Hillsborough family members and justice campaigners Steve Kelly, Margaret Aspinall and Sue Roberts.
Stage activity was hosted by Graeme White from Everton FC’s Goodison Park.
The most senior runner was 93-year-old Dennis Adelsberg from Lathom, near Ormskirk.
Dennis keeps himself busy with many hobbies including gardening, model collecting, and running for Skelmersdale Boundary Harriers – a running club he helped to form in 1983 when two other running clubs were amalgamated. He is Club President. Dennis had the honour of carrying the London 2012 Olympic Flame. He has four children, six grandchildren, and five great grandchildren.
The event’s official charity partners – Jamie Carragher’s 23 Foundation, LFC Foundation, Everton in the Community, and Stanley Park junior parkrun – all support the vision of creating a legacy to honour The 97 while ensuring local communities benefit through their work.
Stanley Park is located between Liverpool Football Club’s Anfield Stadium and Everton Football Club’s Goodison Park – the perfect backdrop to bring the red and blue sides of the city together as they run to remember The 97.
The event was hosted by BTR Liverpool – who organise and deliver Run For The 97.
Reds and Blues stood side by side as football club anthems Liverpool FC’s You’ll Never Walk Alone and Everton FC’s Z Cars were played as runners gathered before the fun run.
The 5K runners crossed the start line to the sound of The Justice Collective’s cover of The Hollies’ classic He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother – the song which unites Liverpool and Everton and shows the solidarity of the Red and Blue sides of the city.
The 5K route included 97 Avenue at Anfield Stadium, so runners could pay their respects as they passed the Eternal Flame Hillsborough Memorial.
Youngsters running in the 1 Mile started to the sound of The Farm’s Altogether Now.
Runners were encouraged to collect their vibrant orange T-shirt on the morning and wear it for the run – demonstrating a display of unity and remembrance. The 1 Mile runners were invited to wear a football shirt or club colours of their choice.
All finishers were presented with a Run For The 97 commemorative medal.
Plans are already underway for next year’s 10th staging of Run For The 97 which will take place on Saturday 18 May 2024. Entries are open now and you can register here.
The event was supported by volunteer teams representing Everton in the Community; LFC Foundation; Liverpool Running Bugs; and members of the Merseyside running community.
Run For The 97 is supported by Margaret Aspinall, former Chair of the now disbanded Hillsborough Family Support Group (HFSG), who lost her 18-year-old son James at Hillsborough. Margaret has championed the event since it was first launched and has attended each year.
Family member Steve Kelly lost his brother Michael, aged 38. Steve has been involved with RFT97 since the start and has also taken part every year.
Sue Roberts, former HFSG Secretary, lost her 24-year-old brother Graham at Hillsborough. Sue has taken part every year, including the two virtual runs in 2020 and 2021.
Margaret, Steve, and Sue continue the campaign for Hillsborough Law Now. A group also walked the 5K route proudly carrying a Hillsborough Law Now banner to raise awareness.
The campaign is to create a new legal duty of candour on public authorities and officials to tell the truth and proactively co-operate with official investigations and inquiries – to help end cover-ups and concealment. The new law would also ensure that victims of disasters or state-related deaths are entitled to parity of legal representation during inquests and inquiries. This will mean that bereaved families can get public funding, just as public money is used to support Government and public authority lawyers.
Margaret Aspinall urged everyone taking part to write to their MPs to help strengthen the campaign:
“The Hillsborough Law is important. It’s about everyone, the future of this country, and it will change so much – but we hope you never have to use it. It’s about gaining full disclosure and a public advocate. That’s what we are still fighting for.”
Participants in Stanley Park on the day included runners who had travelled from Cyprus, Denmark, Ireland, and Thailand.
Run For The 97 was staged as a virtual run in 2020 and 2021 due to the global pandemic.
Virtual registration has continued and enables national and overseas football fans to continue to support the event. Virtual runners were sent their run number, T-shirt, and medal so they could take part on the same day.
International participants included virtual runners in America, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Isle Of Man, Norway, Singapore, Switzerland – as well as a large group from Palm Beaches Official Liverpool Supporters’ Club in the States.
Family activities and soccer skills were hosted by the LFC Foundation, Everton in the Community, and Stanley Park junior parkrun.
Generous runners also took the time to donate much-needed non-perishable food to Fans Supporting Foodbanks who were collecting on the day. A regular on match days at Anfield and Goodison, Fans Supporting Foodbanks were grateful for the food donations to help vital work in the community.
Refreshment concessions Hyacinth Vintage Ice-Cream and Vintage Days Tea Parties also supported the event by making a donation to the charity fund.
Run For The 97 provides a platform to fundraise or make a one-off charity donation. Since it was first staged in 2015, the event has helped to raise more than £40,000 for good causes in the city.
Monies raised will be split equally between the four charities to support vital community outreach programmes. More than £3,300 has already been raised though this year’s event.
The official Just Giving online donation page can be found here.
The Run For The 97 entry fee pays to stage and deliver all aspects of the event including run numbers, T-shirts and medals, virtual entries, as well as event day staging and facilities.
BTR Liverpool organise and deliver Run For The 97. BTR Liverpool is the leading independent organisation for creating, managing, and delivering headline running events across Liverpool City Region including the BTR Liverpool Skyline Half Marathon, BTR Mersey Tunnel 10K, and BTR Liverpool Santa Dash.
BTR Liverpool Race Director Alan Rothwell commented:
“We’d like to thank everyone who supported Run For The 97 by taking part either in Stanley Park or virtually, across the UK or further afield. As well spectators who cheered on the runners and our fantastic volunteer teams. It’s a real team effort.
“Run For The 97 is very poignant and uplifting – a positive community event to remember The 97, their families, and the survivors. Linking with the four official charities ensures that funds raised will go towards vital outreach programmes in the community which is a huge part of the event legacy.
“We’ve already started planning for next year’s 10th staging of this very special event. Entries are open now – add the date Saturday 18 May 2024 to your diary and join us in Stanley Park as we run to remember The 97.”
When the event was first staged in 2015 it was called Run For The 96. Last year the event was renamed Run For The 97 to now include and honour LFC fan Andrew Devine, who sadly passed away in July 2021. Andrew received life-changing injuries at Hillsborough, he died 32 years after the disaster.
This year’s event was officially launched by former Liverpool Football Club goalkeeping legend Bruce Grobbelaar at Hotel Tia, a Liverpool FC inspired boutique hotel on Anfield Road near Anfield Stadium.
To find out more about Run For The 97 visit www.btrliverpool.com