Participants of the inaugural Simplyhealth Great East Run raised a huge £1m for charitable causes in 2017, it has been revealed.

A quarter of those taking part in the half marathon event opted to raise money for charity, benefiting good causes across Suffolk and beyond.

Runners and charity fundraisers gathered at Ipswich Waterfront on Thursday (8 Feb) to unveil the total figure raised and to officially launch this year’s event, which will return to Ipswich on Sunday 16 September.

Local charities were well represented, with Suffolk County Council’s local nominated charity, The Blossom Charity, benefiting from over £3,500 last year.

Clare Jackson, from Diss, took part in the 2017 event for Blossom with a group of fundraisers in the hope of raising awareness about the charity’s support network that helps women in the area to make a positive change in their lives.

Clare said: “Taking part in the inaugural Simplyhealth Great East Run was an amazing experience to be able to challenge myself and support a charity that is so important to hundreds of other women in the region.

“It was a fantastic opportunity to challenge yourself, make new friends, get fitter and participate in a great motivational event and celebrate everything that is great about the county.

Demand for the 2018 event has been extremely high, with less than 1,000 places still remaining.

The half marathon event will start and finish in Ipswich town centre and will follow the same popular route as last year, with runners experiencing the satisfaction of completing a 13.1 mile challenge with thousands of others.

3,500 participants will line up on the start line on Russel Road this autumn, whatever their pace or motivation for running.

Runners will experience a running event like no other in East Anglia, with unrivalled local support as they take in the sights and celebrate everything that’s great about Suffolk.

Giles Macrow, from Newmarket, has signed up to take on the Simplyhealth Great East Run for the first time this year, as part of his year of fundraising for Cancer Research.

50-year old Giles has lost a huge 11 stone since 2016 after taking up running to combat his depression and poor health.

He said: “In 2015 I weighed over 24 stone, had dangerously high blood pressure as well as depression and anxiety.

“I was in very poor health and my vision was beginning to deteriorate, I just knew something had to change.

“That year I took up running and joined Slimming World as a challenge to myself and in just over a year I managed to lose 11 stone after building up my running and setting myself further distance goals.

“I am now taking on my first marathon this year, now weighing 13 stone and I am also running the Simplyhealth Great East Run where I am raising money for Cancer Research.

Event organisers and their partners Suffolk County Council, Ipswich Borough Council and Ipswich JAFFA Running Club, took the already established Ipswich Half Marathon event to the next level with a closed road course, taking in some of the region’s most iconic sights.

Councillor Tony Goldson, Cabinet Member for Health at Suffolk County Council, said: “It’s fantastic that participants raised a million pounds last year, supporting both local and national charities, whilst achieving their own personal goals.

Mass participation events, such as the Simplyhealth Great East Run, deliver numerous benefits for Suffolk and I am delighted that this also includes our local charities.”

Entries for the Simplyhealth Great East Run are now open at: Greatrun.org/East.