THOUSANDS of runners took to the streets of Reading on Sunday (March 17) as the sun shone down on the Sage Reading Half Marathon.

More than 12,000 charity fundraisers, fitness enthusiasts and seasoned runners gathered for the annual event.

Heartbreakingly hit by the Beast from the East and snowed off in 2018, the world-renowned race came alive once again with an army of club runners and first timers.

Sir John Madejski and deputy mayor of Reading Paul Woodward set the runners on their way while thousands of supporters huddled into the Madejski Stadium, inspiring every runner to a hero's sprint finish.

In the men’s race, Scott Overall flew over the finish line in a time of 1:03:50.

Matt Clows took second position in 1:04:03 and Paulos Surafel crossed the line seconds later in third place, at 1:04:12.

In the women’s race, Stephanie Twell took the top spot, completing the course in 1:11:37.

She was followed by Louise Small, with a race time of 1:12:46 and Stephanie Davis, in third place at 1:14:05.

Scott said: "We had a good field out there this year, so it was a tactical event for me.

"The support out in the town was fantastic, as always, and it pushed me through to a strong finish.

"I wanted to cross the line sub 64 minutes and I got it!

"All great race preparation for Boston just round the corner."

Stephanie added: "The atmosphere was electric.

"Today was my first time at Reading and I loved it, even more so taking a new PB home today!

"I will definitely be back next year."

Judith Manson, race director, said: "It feels amazing to be back!

"We have returned to Reading with a bang, the sun shone and I am just so proud of each and every runner who joined us this weekend.

"Being snowed off in 2018 was absolutely heartbreaking for all involved, but it was essential for everyone's safety.

"We want to pass on our thankyous to the 800-strong army of volunteers helping to host such a fantastic race weekend, once again.

"The dedication that goes into training and preparing for such an event is incredible and every year we are so inspired by our runners’ stories, their hard work and committed fundraising for their chosen charity.

"A big thank you to our partners and the Madejski Stadium.

"May the celebrations continue for all – wear your race medal with pride and we look forward to seeing you next year, April 5 2020."

Ashley Wilcox, 30, from Didcot, ran the race in memory of his three relatives, fundraising for the event’s headline charity partner, Cancer Research UK.

He said: "I first ran this race in 2015, so I was looking forward to being back today.

"The support was absolutely incredible and wow did it push us through the tough windy parts of the course.

"Today was always going to be an emotional event for me but it really is an amazing race, thank you to all!"

Steve Hare, CEO of headline sponsor, Sage, said: "Through our sponsorship of the Sage Reading Half Marathon, we are very happy to support the event's many thousands of runners – and their chosen charities.

"For us, it also marks a very special milestone, having achieved the $1 Million Challenge fundraising target for charities around the world.

"From bake sales and cycling events, to dance-a-thons and marathons, Sage colleagues, customers and partners have dedicated themselves to helping others.

"The challenge brought board-level colleagues together with apprentices, the Sage partner community, and everyone in-between, working shoulder to shoulder on experiences which were inspiring, rewarding and meaningful, both to them and their chosen charities."

To continue the celebrations, the 2020 race is now open and will take place April 5 2020.

Early Bird entries are available for a limited time only