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Ards Half Marathon is up and running for UCF

The fifth annual installment of the Ards Half Marathon and Walk has been officially launched by Cool FM presenter, Gareth Stewart, who will be pulling on his running shoes for the Ards Borough Council event.

The half marathon takes place on Friday, June 29, and the nominated charity for this year is the Ulster Cancer Foundation.

Now in its fifth year, the race is expected to attract more than 1,000 runners and walkers, according to Mayor of Ards, Councillor Mervyn Oswald: "The Half Marathon and Walk have grown in popularity each year and, judging by the level of interest we've already had in the 2012 race, we expect to have even more entrants this time round.

"Many use the event to raise money for good causes, and I'm delighted that our nominated charity this year is the Ulster Cancer Foundation.

"I'd encourage anyone participating to consider showing their support for the Foundation's vital work by logging onto to our web site at www.ardshalfmarathon.info and downloading a sponsorship form".

Speaking at the launch, Cool FM presenter Gareth Stewart, said: "I ran the Ards Half Marathon a couple of years ago and I really enjoyed it so I was thrilled to be asked to take part again this year.

"You can run, jog or walk - whatever feels comfortable.

"Knowing that, it has really motivated me to start training again and get fit.

"I'm very proud to be raising money for the Ulster Cancer Foundation. Like most people in Northern Ireland I have been touched by cancer so the cause is very close to my heart.

"My uncle died from the disease and three years ago my Dad was diagnosed with lymphoma.

"It was a huge shock to us all as Dad had always been so fit. Before he was diagnosed with cancer he would have been out running 15 miles a day in the Mourne Mountains, even when he was 60.

"Thankfully, after undergoing very intense treatment, he is now doing well. He is my inspiration and motivation for getting involved in this year's event.

"I would like to encourage all participants in the Ards Half Marathon and Walk to go the extra mile and raise as much money as they can for the Ulster Cancer Foundation.

"Get your friends and family to sponsor you and together, we can help support cancer patients and their families in Northern Ireland."

The top 10 competitors receive prizes, including -pound;400 for 1st place, -pound;250 for 2nd and -pound;200 for 3rd.

There will also be prizes for the oldest and youngest competitor. All participants receive a medal and a T-shirt.

For further information on the Ards Half Marathon -amp; Walk log on to www.ardshalfmarathon.info.