JUBILANT Oliver Matharu breezed to victory in the Mattioli Woods Rothley 10k race – then declared: “Tonight charity was the real winner”.
The Poplar Running Club pacesetter led a record field of almost 800 competitors who helped raise an estimated £20,000 for local good causes.
Although just outside his personal best, 25-year-old Oliver’s official finish time of 36.04 was more than 100 seconds ahead of his nearest rival.
He said: “It was a really good race. The conditions were very warm and it took a lot out of people. But it was brilliant to be involved in such a great event which does so much good work”.
Oliver – whose club is based in Loughborough – was among 797 runners to complete the 6.2-mile course as the race celebrated its 32nd year.
Its main sponsor is Mattioli Woods plc, of Grove Park, Enderby, and has been organised since its inception by the Rothley and Soar Valley Lions Club.
Among last night’s spectators were some of its original founders including Roger Foxon, Andy Selby, Guy Smithson, Roger Fawkes and Ken Preston.
Stalwart Colin Favell, a Lions club member and involved in the race since it began, was again one of this year’s organisers.
He said: “It’s truly a community event, which benefits local charities and engages the support of many, many people from this area.
“It’s my opinion that down the years, the race has brought in more than £300,000 for worthy causes like LOROS, Vista (which supports people with sight loss), Rainbows and the county air ambulance.
“It has gradually built up over the years, but particularly so Mattioli Woods came on board. They have used their reach and influence to involve other corporate sponsors and help ensure that the overwhelming majority of the money we raise goes to charity rather than absorbing the costs of staging the event”.
Ian Mattioli MBE, chief executive officer of Mattioli Woods plc, and wife Clare were among runners pounding their way round the course in front of packed streets.
Ian, who later handed over awards to category prizewinners, said: “As a company we are delighted to be associated with the event, which thanks to the support of the Lions and local running clubs has continued to go from strength to strength.
“The fact that it now has corporate sponsorship from a number of local companies means that every penny paid by competitors in entrance fees is destined to go directly to the charities the race supports. That is fantastic news for everybody concerned”.