Hart village saw a large influx of the area’s athletes last Sunday morning – 186 to be exact – taking part in the popular Old Monks multi-terrain race.
The 5.5 mile route offers the runners a wide variety of conditions, fast roads, steep downhill and uphill sections, ankle deep mud, farm tracks and the firm surface of the Hart to Haswell disused railway line.
The Burn Road club were well represented with 29 members entered, and probably just as many out on the course marshalling and co-ordinating in the village hall.
The well liked and respected Alf Walsh, Burn Road’s president, made sure all went according to plan, even on his 94th birthday.
He received a massive applause and a bottle of bubbly at the presentation before handing out all the prizes.
The whole event went smoothly with some cracking times from the top 10 runners,
Richard Morrell, of Morpeth Harriers (30.46), was victorious after an epic battle over the first half with James Askew, of Durham City Harriers (31.23),
Richard’s power and long leg stride proved too strong for James who lost ground over the last two miles.
Third place went to Sunderland Harrier Craig Isherwood in 32.02.
The ladies race saw Carolyn Ollis, of Middlesbrough and Cleveland Harriers (39.38), lead out and maintain her position, second and third places were fought over keenly by rivals Sue Phillips, of Darlington Harriers (40.03, and the town’s very own Sarah Black (40.10), who was making ground but just ran out of runway on this occasion.
Sarah led the Burn Road ladies home with Lesley Strickland and Sharon Stephenson fighting it out further down the field,
Lesley, who is in excellent form, passed her rival and pushed hard to create an unassailable gap even managing a sprint finish.
Sharon, in her first race back for many years, was delighted to be competing again, the former Burn Road star is hoping this race will kick-start her climb up the rankings.
Paul Wilson, Burn Road’s top man for some time now, had an excellent run for sixth place (33.17).
He was followed by Ben Ward in 15th place (36.08).
Ben has gone from strength to strength over the last six months and will no doubt get quicker throughout this year.
Two big club rivals were battling it out for the next places, Davey Lake in 23rd (36.53) and Darren Armstrong in 31st (37.48) were inseparable over the first few miles but Davey proved the stronger athlete.
Davey had suffered defeat from Darren in the last two outings so was obviously out for revenge.
It looked like a 50-mile training week from Davey over the festivities gave him the edge but without a doubt Darren will want to return the favour soon.
John Davis 34th (38.15) had Darren in view and will get closer very soon, he ran extremely well considering an ankle injury had curtailed his training, watch this space when he is fully fit.
Both the men and ladies teams had excellent backing from a large number of club members who all did very well over this challenging course,
Results: 45th 39.32 Jack Hutton, 55th 40.10 Sarah Black, 56th 40.16 John Mansfield, 61st 40.47 Karl Edwards, 64th 41.04 John Howey, 103rd 45.36 Kevin Weatherill, 105th 45.54 Nigel Shaw, 107th 46.12 Lesley Strickland, 108th 46.13 Graeme Surtees, 113th 46.53 Sharon Stephenson, 117th 47.16 Matty Dawkins, 118th 47.17 Alice Simpson, 120th 47.26 Nicola Swinbourne, 121st 47.27 Richard Robson, 131st 48.32 Dave Clouston, 133rd 49.09 Mal Pugh, 142nd 50.05 Christopher Sharp, 158th 52.45 Jan Naisbitt, 159th 53.05 Cary Surtees, 160th 53.12 Greg Swinbourne, 171st 56.07 Julie McGrath, 172nd 56.10 Stephen Armstrong, 173rd 56.55 Lisa Dawkins, 177th 59.59 Sam Dixon.