The weekend’s athletics action was dominated by marathons, with the annual Kielder Marathon weekend taking place in the west of our county while Sunday saw the return of the Virgin Money London Marathon to the capital.
The Kielder Marathon weekend has steadily grown in scale and now offers a wide range of different sporting challenges, with an individual and team Run – Bike – Run event on the Saturday along with a 10 kilometre race which has grown in popularity. Sunday sees both Half and Full Marathon events take place, as well as Junior races.
Autumn announced its arrival in no uncertain terms on Saturday, with some atrocious conditions and outbursts of torrential rain that dogged the 600 plus field in the 10k race.
The weather couldn’t deter Morpeth’s Mark Snowball, however, who took a fine victory with a time of 35 minutes 45 seconds. Snowball’s nearest challenge came ironically from his twin brother Chris, the ex Ashington Hirst runner, now competing for Wakefield AC, chasing him all the way with a time of 36m 37s. Over 45 John Butters confessed to struggling with the cold but still came home in 4th in 38:18. .
Finishing 6th overall, Claire Duck of Leeds City AC made her journey north worthwhile as first female finisher with a very decent time in the circumstances of 38m 32s. Morpeth’s Laura Mclean was 128th and 32nd female finisher in 54m 41s.
Sunday’s runners were grateful that conditions had improved a little for the day’s Half and Full Marathon events. Remarkably, after his previous day’s exertions, John Butters put himself on the start line once again and this time had a much better outing, coming home in 2nd place overall in a time of 1 hour 18 minutes, some 33 seconds behind race winner David Holmes who clocked 1:16:39. The field of 634 proved the half marathon to be the most popular event.
Low Fell’s Anna Mclean was first woman home in 1:38:31 and Louise Burt Morpeth’s only representative, 214th and 50th female finisher, just outside the two hour mark in 2:00:10.
The full marathon was won by a runner from Keswick AC, Russell Maddams, who made it back in under three hours with a time of 2:54:25. Regular participant Morpeth’s Andrew Hebden, though very short of training, still managed to finish in 13th place overall in 3:16:45. The first female finisher was Jo Ballantyne, 33rd in 3:35:08.
Further down the field, 2011 race winner Jane Hodgson trotted round with her brother and ex Morpeth RUFC first team skipper Paul Mooney, the two finishing together in 4:39:52.
Meanwhile there was another winner for Morpeth Harriers, with Sophie Pledger coming home first in the Under 11 1.5 km event in a time of 5:06.
There were some 36,000 finishers in Sunday’s London Marathon, moved this year from its traditional slot in April after having been cancelled altogether in 2020, and run this year under fine, dry and cool conditions which were ideal for fast times.
Ethiopian Sisa Lemma ran the 6th fastest ever time on the course when winning in 2:04:31 while Ethiopian Joyciline Jepkosgei took the women’s race in 2:17:43.
There were only two Morpeth Harriers who took part this year, experienced Over 40 Gary Jones some way off full fitness but still easily breaking the three hour mark in 2:52:33 for 1211th place, and Paul Banks (O/50), 2426th in 3:03:10.
Three of Morpeth’s talented young athletes were also chosen to run for the North East in the British Road Racing Championships event for young athletes. An inter-area competition, this is held at the same time as the London Borough Challenge and run over a much shorter distance of 2.6 miles on the final section of the course from Temple Place to the Mall, which enables youngsters to get a feel for the big city occasion.
Will de Vere Owen was 25th and third counter for the NE in the U17 men in a time of 7m 41s. An under the weather Millie Breese was 40th and 4th counter for the matching U17 women in 9:05 and Joe Close 51st and 4th counter in 8:39 in the U15 boys race.