THE inaugural National Trust half marathon from Seaham to Crimdon Dene ended in chaos after the first three runners home went off course.
New Marske Harrier James Bulman and Sunderland Harriers’ Craig Isherwood and Michael Barker were the athletes involved in the mishap.
The trio missed a circuit of Hawthorn Dene, only a mile or two after the start, and ended up running nearly two miles less than the half-marathon distance of 13.1 miles for the multi terrain race.
Both Bulman and Isherwood finished the race in 63 minutes with the Teessider about 18 seconds ahead. Barker clocked 65.58 for the shortened course.
For Isherwood and Bulman it was a double whammy, as they had finished second and third respectively in the Sunderland Half Marathon of the North six weeks ago, only to be told they had been denied PBs as the course was also short due to a marshalling error.
Isherwood said: “I’m gutted that this has happened again. I was running well after being out injured for three weeks. I was catching James.
“I knew straight away that it was short when I looked at my watch at the finish and saw my time.
“Where we went off course there was yellow tape on a post and piece beyond that. There was no marshal.
“They said there was a white arrow chalked on the path, which we didn’t see. We just followed the yellow tape.
“There were not many marshals out there and at every turn I was wondering if I had took the right route. A race shouldn’t be down to guess work in finding your way. It is not a paperchase.”
The organisers said: “We were let down by a number of marshals not turning up and a part of the course was vandalised. We apologise for this and will try to ensure it does not happen again.”
The race received positive vibes from the rest of the field who all ran the right course, saying the dramatic Durham coastline was a tough challenge. One competitor even called the race more like a gruelling Iron Man contest.
The race winner was Billingham Marsh Harrier Gavin Duffy in 1.20.53.
This is our second slideshow of pictures from the race.
The first is available by clicking here
A further race report, including how members of Hartlepool Burn Road Harriers got on, will follow in your SportMail later in the week.
Remember you can order copies of our pictures by telephoning our photosales department on (01429) 239408 or by clicking here.