Hartlepool Burn Road Harriers’ traditional Old Monks Race kicked off the new year - but over a new course.
The usual course had to be altered last minute due to fallen trees and water levels in Hart Dene.
The hard work from the Harriers’ committee has resulted in a race which has attracted record numbers over the last three yearsHarriers’ Jane Wistow
An alternative route of 4.9 mile was found ,which was equally as challenging, with lots of long inclines.
The trails and fields were exceptionally muddy which made it very difficult to stay upright, as well as hindering speed due to the impact on runners’ legs.
The race attracted a record number of 304 competitors and was won by Tristan Learoyd of New Marske Harriers for the second year in a row.
Tristan had a great run, spurred on by competition for the next top places behind him.
The women’s race was won by Sue Phillips of Darlington Harriers in 35:54.
This was Sue’s best performance in this race to date and she also secured the first Vet50 prize.
Hartlepool were very well represented in the race, with Burn Road Harriers, Hartlepool Tri Club and Hartlepool Run Fit all coming out to support and compete against runners from all over the region.
Burn Road’s Paul Wilson gave an outstanding performance, sticking with the top five from the start gun, he powered round the course to place fourth overall in 30:21.
Darren Armstrong claimed sixth place in 30:46, with Vaughan Godber next in eighth in a time of 31:42.
This brilliant team performance was enough to secure the Paul, Darren and Vaughan the team prize.
Andrew Lilley gave a strong, solid run in 32:45 (16th), followed by Jack Hutton in 33:25 (19th).
Karl Edwards continued his dominance of the Vet60 category, placing first again in 33:31, 21st of 304 runners. An epic performance from a fantastic athlete.
John Davis was next, chasing Karl all the way for a great time on 33:45 (25th), with Keith Hutchinson firing down the finishing straight to complete in 35:01 (35th).
Keith was just beaten by fellow runner and friend Chris Summers who crossed the line in 34:20 (28th).
Chris is joining the Harriers so we are looking forward to more battles between the two in 2016.
Steve Morrison was next in 35:14 (38th), closely followed by a smiling Graham Jones in 35:25 (39th) and Ian Bilton 35:27 (40th).
James Bate, who runs for both Burn Road and the Tri Club, ran in next in 37:59 (57th).
Michael Ludgate made easy work of winning the first Vet65 prize with an outstanding time of 38:16.
Bill Hornby had a great run to finish in 38:57 (82nd), with Greg Swinbourne enjoying his race for 39:11 (84th).
And still the Burn Road Harriers kept coming. Alan Bell in 39:20 (86th), Dave Wallace in 39:40 (91st) and Darren Smith in 39:52 (94th). All doing exceptionally well to come in under 40 minutes given the conditions.
Sharon Stephenson was the first female home for the harriers, racing to the line in 40:30 (105th). Phillip Thompson gave a good chase to finish just behind in 40:40 (108th), with Graeme Surtees very happy to finish in 41:19 (116th).
Graeme has had a great season thus far, training exceptionally well.
Andrew Bate has also been running for the Harriers in the NSYD cross country league, but is a member of the Hartlepool Tri Club too.
He finished in a great time of 41:48 (125th), with Peter Johnson next in 43:23 (150th).
Peter usually produces the results for the Old Monks Race and so this was the first time in many years he has been out in the thick of it racing. It was great to see him on the circuit.
David Clouston was next in 43:30 (154th) and second Male Vet 65.
Laura Jones had a good run to finish in 43:34 (155th), with Nigel Shaw the next harrier home in 43:58 (163rd).
Lesley Strickland was next in 45:05 (178th), with Emma Watson, Claire Earle and Cary Surtees all working very hard behind to claim the next three harrier places.
Emma finished in 47:16 (203rd), Claire in 47:35 (206th) and Cary in 47:45 (209th).
The Burn Road contingency was completed by great runs from Stephen Armstrong, finishing in 54:19 (268th) and the hard-working Christopher McGrath who had run to the race in Hart all the way from Seaton Carew before taking his place on the start line.
He finished in 69:08 and won a spot prize of a bottle of champagne and vouchers for his great efforts.
Hartlepool Triathletes came out in great support on the day.
Ian Blakemore was first for the triathletes, finishing strongly for 10th place in 31:53.
Martyn Cooper had a fantastic run, finishing 32nd in 34:42.
Andrew Arnell was next in 36:45 (57th). Cheryl Laycock powered to the finishing line in 40:12 (101st), with Lesley Watson the second female triathlete in 42:58.
Excellent runs from Cheryl and Lesley over a tough course.
Steven Wilson was next in 43:58 (162nd), with Shelley Woodwards having a cracking run to finishing 49:55 (49:55).
Julie Ann Edwards crossed the line smiling in a great time of 54:54 (270th).
Hartlepool Run Fit is a club aimed at beginner runners.
Run Fit began a year ago and the progression of members has been staggering, with some who had never run before now racing challenging courses such as the Old Monks.
Mick Skirving works hard in training and this converted to a great race at Hart, completing in 49:00 (228th).
Emma Williams and Leisa Smith supported one another brilliantly over the run, smiling as they cross the line.
Emma completed the race in 62:07 and Leisa in 62:34. Great performances
Hartlepool Burn Road Harriers Chair, Jane Wistow, was thrilled with the event.
She said: “A number of years ago this race would have struggled to attract 100 runners, in 2011 there were only 56.
“The hard work from the Harriers’ committee has resulted in a race which is first on many clubs championship leagues and has attracted record numbers over the last three years.
“The event ran very smoothly, with all volunteers pulling out all the stops to ensure a fun and safe race.
“Many thanks also to the residents of Hart Village for supporting this event in their village.”