Remember when Hartlepool had its own half marathon? It’s 35 years ago and here’s a reminder

Mike McLeod comes home in first place at the Hartlepool Half Marathon.
Mike McLeod comes home in first place at the Hartlepool Half Marathon.

Who remembers the first ever organised fun run to be held in Hartlepool.

This year marks the 35th anniversary of the Mail Half marathon which wound its 13-mile way round the streets of the town in October 1981.

The runners get under way on the Hartlepool half marathon.

The runners get under way on the Hartlepool half marathon.

International star Mike McLeod won the race in a time of 1 hour 8 minutes and 14 seconds which was only five minutes outside of a world record.

But this was as much a day for the “ordinary” men, women and children of Hartlepool who turned out in their hundreds to back the event, and to raise thousands of pounds for the Hartlepool Blind Welfare training centre.

They included 11-year-old Christopher Maddison who was running as part of a team from the 9th Hartlepool Boys Brigade and said: “I wanted to prove to my mates that I could do it.”

Two even younger runners were part of a team which was made up by the Normanton family, including grandfather Ron Normanton, 52, in the company of sons Graham, 21, Craig, 19, and grandchildren Adrian, ten, and Lisa, eight.

The atmosphere was marvellous and I hope we can do it every year, especially when a local charity can benefit

Ron Normanton

Ron said at the time: “It is great to get people out on the road and create such interest. The atmosphere was marvellous and I hope we can do it every year, especially when a local charity can benefit.”

The man known as the town’s flying postman John Dawson, 41, was another runner and surprised himself by taking 20th spot in the race in a time of 1 hour, 21 minutes and 10 seconds.

But it was Billy Nicholson, a member of the Belle Vie Social Club team, who summed up the feelings of most runners when he said: “All my bones ache. I can’t run another yard.

“But I enjoyed it. It is the first time I have done anything like this.”

Mike McLeod comes home in first place at the Hartlepool Half Marathon.

Mike McLeod comes home in first place at the Hartlepool Half Marathon.

More than two hours after Mike McLeod crossed the finish line, other runners were still completing the course.

But most agreed it was a fabulous day and they would love to do it all again.

The first female finisher was Julia Chard, 14, of Elwick.

In all, 1,600 people took part and Mike Mcleod was first to praise the locals for their involvement.

“It makes a big difference when crowds are spurring you on,” he said at the time. “If Hartlepool can support an event like today’s then I hope it becomes an annual one.”

Second in the race was Paul Harker from Darlington who finished ninth in the Olympic 1500 metre trials just a year earlier.

Burn Road Harriers Michael Frostick and Kevin Braithwaite took third and fourth. Michael paid tribute to Stuart Pailor who, he said, he owed a lot for his encouragement.

What do you remember about that great day. Email chris.cordner@jpress.co.uk