Athletics by Jane Wistow
The Blyth Sands 5 Mile Handicap Race is an out and back run from Blyth to Seaton Sluice.
Runners are graded according to age and set off at different times, with the senior men the last to set off, effectively chasing the rest of the field, but having the advantage of youth on their side to do so.
Hartlepool Burn Road Harriers were well represented at the event, but all eyes were on Karl Edwards.
In the Male Vet 60 category, Karl had a seven minute advantage over the Under 40 Senior Men and a four minute advantage over the Vet 50 Men and five minutes over the Vet 40 Men.
In theory, a Vet60 Male runner could be caught by those chasing.
However, Karl is having an exceptional season, winning prizes all over the north east circuit and was firing on all cylinders in the sands at Blyth.
He won the race with over a minute and a half to spare, seeing off 131 other competitors.
Bryan Astill was the second Harrier to race to the finish line, claiming 11th place, with Paul Wilson next in 18th.
Both Bryan and Paul had lost their footing in the challenging wet sand, with Bryan ending up head first and having to work hard to find his feet again.
Richard Hambly had a good run to place 26th overall, followed by Jack Hutton in 27th and John Davis in 28th.
Phillip Thompson dug deep over the latter stages to place 91st.
The Frostbite 30 is an ultra-distance marathon of almost 35 miles of mixed terrain, including lots of challenging hills, a continuous climb for the first 10 miles and lots of mud and anguish.
This year a fair few of the runners called it a day after the first 11 mile loop due to the severe weather conditions which had resulted in quagmires and burst riverbanks to negotiate.
Gail Smith was accompanied by Jason Ellis around the difficult course, stopping at checkpoints to take in the stunning scenery and enjoy the event, which was very enjoyable but which resulted in the last few miles being covered in the dark with a head torch and strong will.
They completed the event jubilant and, thankfully, without injury.
A great achievement, particularly given the conditions.
Fairfield Harriers hosted the ‘What a Wheeze Christmas Cracker’ 5k on Sunday.
The results were not available at the time of going to press, but Lee Kitching had an outstanding race, placing fourth.