Reds and blues pulled on their running shoes on Saturday (12 May) to take part in the fourth annual Run For The 96 5K in Liverpool’s Stanley Park.

More than 1,300 football fans, young and old, stood side by side to honour the 96 Liverpool fans who lost their lives in the Hillsborough tragedy on 15 April 1989.

The community legacy event was first staged in April 2015, as a positive way to celebrate the lives of The 96. The event also remembers the families of The 96 and the survivors, who have tirelessly fought for justice with the utmost dignity for 29 years.

Margaret Aspinall, Chair of the Hillsborough Family Support Group (HFSG), walked the 5K course for the second year.

This year, the route was changed slightly to include 96 Avenue at Anfield, taking runners past the Eternal Flame. Many participants paused during the run to pay their respects at the memorial.

The 5K route also passes Goodison Park, to recognise the support Everton Football Club has given to the Hillsborough families in their fight for justice.

Liverpool Football Club legend Jamie Carragher took part for the first time with Dad, Phil Carragher. Carragher’s son James, and brother John also ran.

The 23 Foundation charity, set up by Bootle-born Jamie in 2009, this year came on-board to join Everton in the Community and Stanley Park CIC as this year’s official beneficiaries.

Together, the trio support the vision of creating a positive community legacy event to honour The 96, with the commitment to ensure that local communities benefit from the event. The three good causes will receive monies donated and funds raised by participants.

Special guests who also pulled on their running shoes included Carragher’s former team mate striker Robbie Fowler, and CEO Liverpool Football Club Peter Moore, both taking part for the first time. Run For The 96 5K stalwart, Reds’ favourite Alan Kennedy, was back for his fourth consecutive year.

The Liverpool FC legends were joined on the start line by Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram, former Emmerdale actor Kurtis Stacey, and original Big Brother winner Craig Phillips.

Voice of Anfield, George Sephton, who has been Liverpool Football Club’s match day announcer for almost 47 years, has supported the event from day one. He returned once again to remember The 96 and cheer on runners.

Margaret Aspinall, chair of the Hillsborough family support group (HFSG), commented: “What another incredible year for the run for the 96 – and an important way to celebrate the lives of the 96 and honour their memory.

“It was particularly moving this year with the 5k route now taking in 96 avenue and the eternal flame at Anfield. Everyone was able to take a moment and pay their respects as they passed, that was a very special moment.

“It’s lovely to see people return year after year to show their continued support, and it’s so encouraging and heartwarming to see so many youngsters taking part, as they will help the continue the legacy of the 96 in future years.”

Football club anthems, Liverpool’s You’ll Never Walk Alone and Everton’s Z Cars rang out across Stanley Park, followed by a minute’s applause from guests, runners and spectators to honour The 96. He Ain’t Heavy was played as the 5K runners set off. The 5K was followed by a 1 Mile Fun for youngsters, which was introduced last year.

Sue Roberts, Secretary of the HFSG, lost her 24-year-old brother Graham at Hillsborough. Sue took part for the fourth time.

Family member Steve Kelly, from the Hillsborough Justice Campaign, lost his 38-year-old brother Michael. Steve and his four-legged friend, dog Justice Jimmy, also took part for their fourth consecutive year.

Jamie Carragher also made a very special presentation to 13-year-old Max Barlow from St Helens. Max is part of the Tyrrell family, who lost Kevin aged just 15 in the Hillsborough tragedy.

A fortnight before last year’s event, Max was knocked over on his way to school. He was in Alder Hey for some time with head injuries. He has now recovered but was devastated about missing last year’s run. Max was presented with a framed picture and a Liverpool shirt signed by Jamie
and fellow guests attending Run For The 96.

Alongside the running events, Everton in the Community and the LFC Foundation hosted family activities including soccer skills, penalty shoot-out and beat the goalie.

Volunteer teams from both football club charities also helped on the day, alongside local runners and club, Liverpool Running Bugs.

Bouncy Castles Liverpool supported the event by bringing along a football themed bouncy castle; while runners donated much-needed items for local communities at the Fans Supporting Food Banks collection point.

Run For The 96 5K is the brainchild of Dom Williams, who has previously organised the annual mammoth Hillsborough to Anfield run. Dom developed the idea of Run For The 96 with race organisers BTR Liverpool as a way to engage the wider community to run to remember and honour The 96.

BTR organise and deliver the event. The entry fee pays to stage and deliver all aspects of the event, including a bespoke commemorative medal and T-shirt for all participants in the 5K event.

This year, the Run To Remember 96K Relay was also introduced and took place the week before (Sunday, 6 May) at the Memorial Gardens To The 96 at Wallasey Town Hall, Seacombe Promenade. A total of 151 supporters took part during a 9-hour period, covering a staggering 1,091 kilometres – an incredible 678 miles. Each kilometre was dedicated to one of The 96.

Over three years, donations and funds raised through Run For The 96 has totalled £22,000 for good causes Everton in the Community, the LFC Foundation, and Stanley Park CIC.

Run For The 96 2018 _DSC1808 Pic by Paul Francis Cooper

Online donations to the Run For The 96 beneficiaries can still be made by visiting https://mydonate.bt.com/events/runfortheninetysix/461773

WEBSITE:         WWW.BTRLIVERPOOL.COM

FACEBOOK:      FACEBOOK/BTR LIVERPOOL

TWITTER:          @BTRLIVERPOOL #RUNTOREMEMBERTHE96