Hartlepool Sports Council’s annual awards were dominated by those who are willing to go that extra mile.
And in the case of the 2017 Hartlepool Sports Personality of the Year more like 141 miles!
Matt Turnbull is the first triathlete to walk away with the town’s major sporting accolade.
Or should that be swim, cycle and run his way to glory?
If there is a fitter athlete in Hartlepool than this Iron Man, we’d like to meet him.
And two of the other principal award winners at the event at Seaton Carew Sports & Social Club have done plenty of running too in a short period of time.
Hartlepool Run Fit’s head man, Andrew Lilley, was named Coach of the Year, while Hartlepool Youth Athletics Club clinched the Heerema Club of the Year prize from guest of honour, Seaton Carew Sports Club secretary Monica Vaughan.
On the subject of young winners, the recipient of the Team of the Year prize could not have been much younger – Hartlepool FC Under Eights.
Rugby player and coach Caitie Smith took home the Services to Sport trophy, while Hartlepool Motor Club’s Anthony Coates took the Keith Hewitson Volunteer of the Year award.
Sports Personality of the Year: To say Matt Turnbull is an accidental hero is something of an exaggeration. You don’t compete in 140.6 miles races by accident.
A stage performer of some renown, he turned to triathlon after having the ambition of swimming the English Channel for charity.
After learning he was not a good enough swimmer to get the 20 miles from England to France, he decided to take up triathlons, which had a slightly shorter swim!
The married dad of two represented GB at the World Age Group triathlon championships.
He has won honours at international level, taking bronze at the European Duathlon Championship (run-bike-run), a silver at the England Duathlon while he represented
Turnbull’s speciality has been the famed Ironman event – a 2.4-mile open-water swim, a 112-mile bike right followed by the not-so-small matter of a marathon run, 26.2 miles.
The Hartlepool school teacher hit the headlines this year by completing SEVEN Ironman events in SEVEN days for the Tiny Lives charity, based in the neonatal unit at the RVI in Newcastle, which helps care for premature and sick newborn babies.
“In 2010, I lost a good friend, Liz Beer, to cancer to cancer,” Matt told SportMail.
“I wanted to help the charity who helped her through her illness.
“I said to my wife, Kelly, would swimming the Channel be a good idea?
“It turned out I was not a good enough swimmer at the time, but, on that path, I found something called the Ironman and thought ‘that’s the sport for me’.
“Over the years, things went well for me and it brought me to try something no-one else in this country had done, seven Ironman races in seven days.
“I did it for Tiny Lives, a wonderful charity.”
His amazing effort raised almost £10,000, an incredible performance from an incredible athlete who was a worthy winner of the Hartlepool Sports Personality of the Year.
Club of the Year: In just its fourth year, Hartlepool Youth Athletics Club have clinched awards glory.
The inspiration of head coach John Spence, Hartlepool Youth Athletics brings sport to 160 children every week.
Based at English Martyrs School, the club is more than just providing fun and fitness to young people.
Its members compete in the North Yorkshire South Durham League and have had success in that competition, plus the Northern Sprint Relay Championship and Northern Pentathlon Championship.
Coach of the Year: Andrew Lilley made his running count as a rugby player for Hartlepool Rovers, West and BBOB.
But now he has swapped boots for trainers as the brainchild of Hartlepool Run Fit.
Set up three years ago with a handful of members, it now has a weekly group of 60 participants.
Run Fit is a club for anybody and everybody, of all ages and sizes, for those who can only run short distances or those who fancy a 50-miler.
Lilley was awarded the coach of the year trophy for his ability to deliver fun, yet challenging sessions, and his skill in motivating their members.
Services to Sport: Durham rugby player Caitie Smith was awarded the trophy for the impact made not in her game but in sport full stop.
Although she left Hartlepool Sixth Form College this year, she had a major impact on the students at the Brinkburn site.
She organised regular female activities at HSFC, such as touch rugby, circuits and charity events and helped get more than 100 girls active in sport.
Volunteer of the Year: This award, presented in memory of the late Hartlepool Sports Council treasurer, Keith Hewitson, broke new ground.
The prize, made to a volunteer in a non-coaching capacity, went to Anthony Coates of Hartlepool & District Motor Club.
Anthony quickly became a competent official, carrying out roles of course marshal and timer at motor sport events.
He instituted improvements to the club’s timing and results procedures and became Hartlepool DMC secretary in February. He officiates at many northern club events.
Team of the Year: Such is the energy of the winners of this award, they were running about the Hornby Park clubhouse before last night’s event got under way!
Hartlepool FC Under Eights are not just quick on their toes, they are pretty nifty with a football.
They started playing aged four and have been playing in leagues since last year, winning the Russell Foster Second Division title and this season they have made a 100% start in the Teesside Junior Football Alliance.
Rising Stars: One of the most popular items of the ceremony. Eight sports were represented at Hornby Park: Finlay Barlow (Badminton); Sonny Sweeting (Kick Boxing); Scott Temple (Athletics); Josh Bearby (Karate); Mollie Cooper (Karate); Joe Cope (Table Tennis); Lauren Serginson (Football); Ellis Taylor (Football); Nicole Johnson (Rugby); Codie Bates (Rugby); Danielle Marshall (Boxing)