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HARTLEPOOL and East Durham were well-represented among the inspirational participants in this year’s Great North Run.

Hundreds of local runners were among more than 50,000 participants in the 13.1-mile race from Newcastle to South Shields yesterday.

Among them was Hartlepool United boss Colin Cooper, who was joined by 41 other people running for the Finlay Cooper Fund, which was set up in memory of his two-year-old son who died 11 years ago in a choking accident.

They included club mascot H’Angus, alias Michael Evans, who completed the course in his monkey costume, and Pools youth development officer John Hewitson. Money raised is being distributed to children’s charities across Teesside.

Trimdon-born Colin, 46, who completed the course in a respectable one hour and 56 minutes, said: “I’m delighted with my time, considering I hadn’t been able to commit much time to training due to Hartlepool United commitments.”

Michael, a 29-year-old Nissan worker from Woodham, Newton Aycliffe, finished in three hours 13 minutes, having previous finished in two hours two minutes in 2008, minus the mascot suit.

He said: “The crowd really pushed participants along.”

Also among the Finley Cooper Fund runners were Tony Dye and Dave Rowlands, who climbed Mount Kilimanjaro for the cause, as well as Boro legend Craig Hignett’s wife Denise, and up to £10,000 is estimated to have been raised.

Also taking part was landlord of the Fisherman’s Arms pub, on the Headland, Steve Bell.

The 50-year-old got round the course in just under three hours, with his son Alan, 32, while their friend and pub regular Owen Atter, who turns 21 today, finished in two hours.
Steve, who has run the course nine times before, reckons his efforts raised about £500 for Guide Dogs for the Blind, said: “I got round it and it was good until it poured down at the end.”

Hartlepool Mail journalist Paul Watson, who sadly died from a heart attack last November, was honoured during the race, as his former Press Association colleagues Tom Wilkinson and Mark Woods completed the course in Paul’s memory, raising around £500 for LIVErNORTH.

Tom, 40, from Chester-le-Street and Mark, 38, who lives in Coventry but has family in Easington, completed the course in two hours. Tom said: “We were so pleased to get out there and do something positive in Paul’s memory.”