PROVING age is no barrier to taking part, pensioner Yvonne Gamble-Thompson is set for her first competitive running race aged 81!

The mum and grandmother, from New Marske, has been inspired to enter the Ali Brownlee Cleveland Centre 5k in honour of her favourite Boro commentator and radio presenter.

Yvonne will be wearing her ‘One of Our Own’ Ali Brownlee t-shirt and will be accompanied around the 3.1 mile route, which takes place in Middlehaven and ends inside the Riverside Stadium, by daughter Helen Hall.

“It’s for Ali,” said Yvonne. “I just thought he was absolutely great. We listened to him every morning on BBC Tees and of course for the football.

“He was an ordinary person but he got through to hundreds and thousands of people. He will never be forgotten.

“Even when Boro played absolutely rubbish he said we would do better next time and we’d just had an off-day. He always had time to say how are you doing, have you enjoyed the match?

“I hope I can cope, I’m just walking around with Helen and she says if I walk as fast as when I am shopping I should be OK.”

And if Yvonne needs any advice on how to tackle the route, she has plenty of people to ask. Husband Harry Gamble-Thompson, 84, has run marathons across the world along with daughter Helen and remains involved with New Marske Harriers.

The family are big Boro fans and attend games at the Riverside while Ali’s voice was a fixture on Yvonne and Harry’s radio before his sad death earlier this year.

Helen said: “Mum has always supported us in our running and about 30 years ago did try a couple of races but it wasn’t for her.

“As soon as she saw the 5k was changing its name to honour Ali Brownlee she said she would love to do it. I just thought it was fabulous she wanted to do it.”

Cllr Lewis Young, Executive Member for Culture, Leisure and Sport, said: “Ali was a brilliant advocate for the 5k and 10k runs in Middlesbrough and its ethos of community participation.

“We were delighted to hear Yvonne was taking part in the 5k and she is an example to us all. I hope she and her family enjoy the day.”

  • The deadline to enter the Ali Brownlee Cleveland Centre 5k and 2k has been extended to Monday, May 30. For more information visit www.runmiddlesbrough.com.