IT IS the chance to tread in the footsteps of footballing royalty.

The first full marathon in Southampton for three decades last year saw thousands pound the streets of the city.

Now, organisers have announced a special addition to this year’s route; the home of the Saints. People taking part in the ABP Southampton Marathon this April will be able to run alongside the pitch of St Mary’s as part of the 26-mile marathon.

Runners of both the full route and the half marathon will be able to experience the new addition.

Chris Rees, race director, said: “The event has become a firm fixture on Southampton’s sporting calendar and we’re thrilled that the city’s biggest sporting venue is involved yet again.

“We can’t wait to open the gates to St Mary’s on race day and give runners the unique opportunity to run alongside the pitch.”

Alastair Welch, ABP Southampton director, visited the stadium to see where runners will be treading.

He said: “It is great that everyone taking part will have the opportunity to run through the stadium and soak up a little of the St Mary’s magic.

“We have seen the ABP Southampton Marathon grow in popularity each year and 2018 will be no exception – we are looking forward to even more runners from the port community taking part this year.”

Around 10,000 runners in the longer route, half marathon and 10k run visited various landmarks last April, and this year’s course also visits the Bargate, Itchen Bridge, Riverside Park and Southampton Common before reaching the finish by the Guildhall in the city centre.

Entries for this year’s competition are already open, and close on March 15. In previous years, former Saints legends Matt Le Tissier and Franny Benali have taken to the streets to take part.

Toby Steele, managing director of Saints, said: “We are delighted to be able to welcome Southampton’s biggest running event through the gates at St Mary’s.

“As one of the runners this year, I am really looking forward to taking part in what is always a great sporting event that helps to raise money for so many worthwhile causes in the local community.”

As reported last year, the events brought £1 million to the city through sales of food, drinks and tourism of people coming to visit Southampton for the races themselves.The race this year takes place on April 22.