Yvonne Gamble-ThompsonA TEESSIDE gran who took part in a 5k road race aged 81 as a tribute to ‘Voice of the Boro’ Ali Brownlee has now hung up her running shoes.

Yvonne Gamble-Thompson, from New Marske, said: “I’m not a runner but I’ll do anything if I can. It was a brilliant day and I’m glad I did it. I will always remember it. I did what I set out to do and I did it for Ali but it was just a one-off.”

When Boro fan Yvonne heard of the renaming of the annual Middlesbrough race to the Ali Brownlee Cleveland Centre 5k in honour of her favourite commentator and radio presenter she was determined to take part.

However, one concern was whether she would complete the 3.1 mile route in the hour allotted for the race

But despite race organisers offering to keep the route open longer, Yvonne, wearing her ‘One of Our Own’ Ali Brownlee t-shirt and running alongside daughter Helen Hall, raced home in a very respectable time 47.07.

Yvonne, whose husband Harry Gamble-Thompson, 84, is a former runner and still involved with New Marske Harriers, said: “We ran for a little while, then we walked, then we picked it up again. When we came into the stadium Helen said ‘try and run’ so we did.

“It was faster than we thought. We had gone out training on the Wednesday before and Helen said if you had not stopped to talk our friend Karen we would have been faster. On the day we did it three minutes faster than we had anticipated so we were chuffed about that.”

Afterwards the family were invited into a VIP area where they were introduced to Ali’s family.

“We met Alastair’s family and Benji the dog. They were so nice to us, they really were,” said Yvonne.

“His wife Wendy said she thought it was wonderful that I was doing it for Ali and I said that if you ever met him he was so down to earth, so ordinary, he had no edge to him. He was just such a genuine lovely person and the rest of his family were.

“It was everything I expected it to be – quite emotional but everybody was just lovely.”