Hartlepool Burn Road Harriers hosted the annual Old Monks Race which once again attracted a terrific turn out.
The committee had worked very hard to organise the event and there were almost 30 volunteers on the day marshalling the event.
The 5.5mile multi-terrain race takes runners from Hart Village Front Street, down Butts Lane and right along a trail race for around a kilometre until they reach the dene.
Here, runners have a very challenging section of mud and climbing.
Once they have climbed out of the dene there is a stretch along the railway line to momentarily get their breath back until descending into the dene near Monk Heselden and another climb out.
The two mile of road stretching back to the finish line would be easy going in itself if runners had not had two challenging sections of hills in their legs.
Instead, the final two miles can be extremely punishing as runners are pushing to finish but legs and lungs are sore and tired from their efforts.
The race sold out and 287 runners took their positions on the start line for their instructions from Burn Road’s Chair Jane Wistow.
Thirty-one minutes and six seconds later, the race was won by Tristan Learoyd from New Marske Harriers and Louise Rodgers from Tyne Bridge Harriers won the women’s race in 38:01.
Richard Darling was the first Hartlepool Burn Road Harrier to cross the finish line in a fantastic third place.
In his usual style, he tucked himself in behind Simon Bennett and Paul Wilson for the first part of the race before firing up his cylinders over the second half to overtake runners and complete the run in 32:39.
A brilliant return to racing for Richard who has been injured recently.
Paul Wilson powered to the line for fifth place in a time of 33:27 and Simon Bennett followed seven seconds later in 33:34 for sixth place.
This performance from the three top lads on the day secured them the team prize which was sponsored by local chartered accountants and business advisers
Walton Clark Whitehill and presented to the team by their Director of IT Graeme Surtees.
A brilliant result for these three excellent athletes.
Darren Armstrong had little time to warm up as he waited to secure one of the final race numbers in the village hall.
This did not prevent him producing a great run to finish in 35:29 (16th).
Gareth Foreman had his best race for some time, crossing the line in 36:59 (27th), followed by John Davis who was full of cold but determined to give the run his best effort. John finished in 37:11 (28th).
Ian Bilton was the next Harrier to cross the line in 41:06 (70th), with first female from the club, Sharon Stephenson, next in 41:34 (80th), knocking over five minutes off her time from the same race two years ago.
Dave Wallace was next in 41:39 (82nd) followed by Leigh Owbridge, who has only recently joined the Harriers and shown great promise.
Leigh completed his first Old Monks Race in 41:42 (84th).
The Harriers kept coming towards the finish line in waves.
Next was Andy Kane in 44:14 (112th) and Bill Hornby in 45:46 (129th).
Bill is a well known face at Hartlepool’s local park run and has been racing very well across the North-East region last year. 2015 looks very promising for him.
Lucy Stones was the Harriers second female to cross the line in 45:58 (132nd), with hill-loving Nichola Swinbourne next in 46:35 (141st).
Graeme Surtees enjoyed his trek around the challenging course to complete in 47:10 (152nd) and Andy Doughty was very pleased with his first race around the course, finishing in 47:44 (159th) to the cheers of the crowd.
Chris Sharp was next home in 47:54 (161st) followed by Dave Clouston, who won the First Male Vet 65 Prize for the second year in a row for his time of 48:58 (177th).
Emma Watson was next in 49:07 (179th) with Claire Earle just behind in 49:39 (182nd).
Greg Swinbourne had a good run to complete the course in 50:42 (190th) and Lucy Surtees showed realdetermination running her first as a senior – what a race to choose! – to finish in 52:31 (207th).
Julie McGrath ran an excellent race. Supported by Richie Hambly she crossed the line in 54:27 (224th and 225th) knocking a good two minutes off her last race around the same course.
Christopher McGrath completed the Burn Road Team, finishing in 67:38 (282nd).
Hartlepool Triathletes Club also had a great day at the event.
Tony Oliver led their team out to finish in a brilliant time of 36:10 (23rd).
Lee Rukin pulled out all the stops to cross the line in 37:39 (31st) followed by Martyn Cooper in 40:00 (58th).
Neil Yates was the next triathlete to finish the gruelling course in 42:49 (99th), with Jon Embleton next in 43:37 (106th).
Lesley Watson had a great run alongside team mate Tracey Hickling and they crossed the line together in 48:35 (167th and 168th).
Phillip Purdy was next in 53:58 (218th) followed by Jo Ryan and Julie-Ann Edwards in 60:22 (254th and 255th).
An excellent performance from the tri club who were well supported by other members and family.
Hartlepool Burn Road Harriers and Athletics Club would like to extend their sincere thanks to the residents and land owners of Hart Village for their support of this race in the wonderful village.