Olympic champion inspires runners and walkers at West Sussex Mind's Mental Elf fun run 2023

Elves took over Worthing seafront for West Sussex Mind's Mental Elf fun run 2023 – and Olympic champion Sally Gunnell was among them.

The British athlete joined nearly 200 runners and walkers on Sunday and proved a great inspiration for everyone taking part. he Worthing-based charity said the fun run was its most successful and uplifting fundraising event to date, with a fantastic turnout and some great elf costumes.

Chief executive Kerrin Page opened the event and welcomed everyone, then handed over to Sally. Everyone took part in an energetic warm-up with Worthing gym Intent91, before Sally did the countdown and started the race.

The course followed the same route as Worthing parkrun, turning around at Marine Parade and ending at Beach House Gardens. Town crier Bob Smytherman, a trustee of the charity, gave some great support and encouragement en route.

Carrie Howell, community fundraising lead, said: "Mental Elf is not only a great opportunity to raise much-needed funds for our work, but it’s a chance to spread awareness about mental health generally and to ensure that people know that West Sussex Mind is here to support local people when they need us most.

"There was a great community atmosphere – with our biggest runner and walker turnout yet – so we thank everyone who took part, as well as our amazing volunteers, without whom we couldn’t run the event. We can’t wait to do Mental Elf even bigger and better next year!”

Live music from Spring into Soul Gospel Choir and the Drumheads Samba Band welcomed people through the finish line. The top three male runners were Roger Bryant, Gary Woolven and Steve Birch, the top female runners were Mae Elvey, Jennie Thorne and Sarah Thomas. The prize for best-dressed elf went to Rowan Watson-Ryan.