Race organiser Andy O'Sullivan swaps organising races for competing

Date published: 21 July 2020

After 37 years and hundreds of races, Rochdale's prolific race organiser Andy O’Sullivan MBE has decided to stop staging local races as of July 2020.

Since 1983, Andy, a former policeman, has organised over 670 races for numerous charitable causes, many named after people who contributed enormously to the sport.

However, the Andem’s Runner is now swapping organising races for participating in them instead.

He said: “After 37 years, I feel it’s time to compete in races rather than have all the responsibility.”

Andy’s Cowm series of races will continue; staged by Chris Barnes from Accrington, who will retain the same format of cheap entry fees, proceeds being given to worthy causes and using the same pubs.

Andy’s long-running career started in July 1982 when, along with 2,000 others, Andy completed the ‘Rochdale Observer 7 Fun Run,’ raising £500 for Rochdale Disabled Scouts.

On Sunday 1 September 1983, after discussions with others, Andy then staged a six-mile run from the Rifleman Pub on Cronkeyshaw Road.

The race took the runners over Lobden and through Whitworth, then through Shawclough to finish outside the now-defunct Cronkeyshaw Primary School. 177 runners finished and £366 was raised for ‘A hospice for Rochdale appeal’.

Charities that have benefitted from Andy’s races vary from Springhill Hospice and the Christie, to sending families with a serious disabled child on holiday to other local appeals.

In 1991, Andy received the BEM for services to the police and charities, which was followed with an MBE for services to athletics and charities 13 years later in 2004. He even carried the Olympic torch in London that year, together with the most famous people in the UK.

These days, Andy is best known as ‘The Voice of Manchester Races,’ commentating on races like the Great Manchester Run.

Andy previously fought bladder cancer in 2016, before undergoing extensive surgery in September 2019 to remove his bladder and prostate.

Now cancer clear, Andy is preparing to run a celebratory half-marathon (13.1 miles) in August, having completed 49 training runs so far.

Andy will take on his off-road run on 16 August, and hopes to raise a minimum of £1,000 for the Whitworth branch of Cancer Research UK.

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