Two very strong team results that included a gold medal for the men and a silver
for the women were the stand out headlines from a raft of very strong individual
performances at the Northern 5k Championships at Sunderland on Wednesday 15th July 2015.
The midweek evening run, hosted by Sunderland Harriers from their Silksworth Sports Centre HQ,
has always attracted a strong field, and with the event incorporating not just the
North Eastern but the Northern Athletics Association Championships this year,
there were high quality fields in both races.
Indeed, such has been the growing popularity of the race that this year,
for the first time, the decision was taken to separate the women’s and men’s races,
with the older male Over 50 veterans joining the women.
This was probably a wise choice for all concerned,
as the fast downhill start and narrow paths,
have in recent years seen a number of fallers
as competitors race pell-mell for the first left hand turn.
It was the women and older male vets who got proceedings off
and the race was soon headed by leading veteran Guy Bracken
of North Shields Polytechnic Harriers.
Bracken has been in ominous form of late
(and had indeed raced on both Saturday and Sunday in Scotland)
as he builds up to the World Masters Championships in France later in the month,
and his time of 15 minutes and 39 seconds was some
40 seconds faster than he had run last year.
A strong field in the women’s race saw another athlete in excellent form,
Justina Heslop of Elswick Harriers, take gold in a time of 16 minutes 28 seconds
with Vale Royal runner Amelia Petitit in second beating Rosie Smith of Durham (17m 16s) into third.
Morpeth’s Emma Holt narrowly missed out on the individual medals in fifth
and had at least the satisfaction of running a personal best (17m 23s),
but with club colleagues Vickey Gibbs coming in 12th overall
and picking up a silver medal as 2nd Over 35 (18m 43s)
and Catriona Macdonald in 16th place,
Morpeth secured a team silver.
They were in fact unfortunate this was not gold, as their team points
(based on overall positions of first three counting runners)
were the same as gold medallists Tyne Bridge Harriers,
but in such cases the position of the third scoring runner is the deciding factor.
In the Over 50 male veterans race Rob Hancox showed he had thankfully
put the trauma of the Tynedale 10k behind him when he finished
4th O/50 in a time of 17m 31s (another pb), with Paul Brown 8th O/50 in 18m 11s,
Alistair Macdonald 14th in 19m 45s and Peter Scaife 15th in 19m 50s.
In his first race on home soil since moving up a vets category meanwhile,
Gavin Bayne was first Over 60 in 19 m 03s.
Morpeth Harriers were near the front of perhaps an even stronger male field
which included Dan Jenkins of Durham City and Carl Smith of Leeds City,
with Lewis Timmins in prominent form having won the previous week’s
Bridges of the Tyne 5 mile race. It was North East based Smith,
however, who pulled away on the second lap of the lakes to win,
just as he had done at Wallsend in April, in a season’s best performance of 14m 37s.
A fiercely contested battle behind him saw Timmins hold off Jenkins to take silver
in 14m 52s with Carl Avery of Morpeth in fifth (14m 57s).
Thereafter a string of noteworthy performances by Morpeth’s men –
many of which were personal bests - saw them dominate the proceedings
with Ross Floyd 7th in 15m 11s, Chris Smith 9th and 1st Over 35 in 15m 13s,
Ian Harding 11th in 15m 17s, Tom Straughan 12th in 15m 20s,
Kevin Calvert 14th in 15m 29s, Karl Taylor 15th in 15m 31s,
Sam Hancox 21st in 15m 44s, Elliot Kelly 24th in 15m 51s,
Jordan Scott 27th in 16m 2s, Fergus Bates 36th and 2nd O/45 in 16m 21s,
Mark Snowball 47th in 16m 47s, Matt Forster 66th in 17m 21s
and U17 Jack Armstrong 85th in 17m 53s. .
While Timmins, Avery and Floyd took a resounding team gold,
their next three would also have taken silver had more than
one prize per club been permitted, and such was the strength
of the performance that the club provided four
of the top ten runners and eight of the top fifteen.
Report by Peter Scaife