Lee stars on return to Great North Run
Last updated at 09:05, Monday, 01 October 2012
MORE than 1,100 people from Tynedale joined the masses at Newcastle’s Tyne Bridge to set off for the world’s largest half marathon, the Bupa Great North Run.
Some of the 1,136 local runners were kitted out in fancy dress, some ran the 13.1 miles to raise cash for charity, while some ran it as a personal challenge.
Whatever the reason for running, the Tynedale tribe contributed in making the 31st annual run one of the most successful ones to date.
To add extra spice for local runners, Nova International joined forces with Hexham Courant this year to introduce trophies for the fastest non-elite male and female finishers from the district.
And both winners came from the Newburn running club Elswick Harriers, with Wylam resident Lee Bennett (43) quickest man and Darras Hall’s Andrea Banner (42) wiliest woman.
Bennett, also a member of Northumberland Fell Runners, only took up running seriously around four years again but clocked up the impressive time of one hour, 14 minutes and 56 seconds.
It is only his second ever Great North Run – the first was 25 years ago as a bit of fun – so he was overjoyed to come first from a field of over 1,100!
He said: “I was very pleased with my time and it just seemed to go well as a race and I managed to run it quite comfortably.
“I wasn’t sure what to expect as it had been so long since I ran it but it was a great occasion and the whole atmosphere was amazing.
“I think I will do it again next year and I’ll not leave it another 25 years! I couldn’t ask for me being the fastest person in Tynedale but there will be a bit more pressure on me next time!”
Crossing the line as fastest female from the district was Elswick teammate Banner, a mother of three from Darras Hall, in Ponteland.
It was her 17th Great North Run in the past 19 years as pregnancies ruled her out of two years!
Although running has taken a back seat in her life for the past eight years due to family commitments, she always signs up, whenever possible, for the event and she was over the moon to record her first sub one-and-a-half hour run for 10 years by finishing in 1:29.51.
She said: “The Great North Run has been an inspiration to me as it got me running initially and I have been running ever since.
“It is amazing to be fastest Tynedale woman giving that I have just been plodding along for the last few years. I have never been recognised for doing well before so it is really nice, and surprising, to win the cup.”
Meanwhile, Hexham elite runner Nick McCormick followed up his Olympic debut at London 2012 with a solid performance in his first Great North Run.
The 31-year-old achieved his goal of finishing in the top 10, a time of 1:02:44 earning him ninth spot.
There was cause for celebration the previous day with the Junior Great North Run races being held, young Tynedale Harriers putting in some excellent displays.
At the head of the field was Max Pearson’s victory in the U13 event as he built on his growing reputation on the track as the country’s 22nd rank.
Inspired by his idol Mo Farrah, who had earlier won an international race over the same circuit in the Great City Games, Max made his customary fast start to lead a field of several hundred runners over the Swing Bridge and out onto the 4km long circuit.
It was a lead he never lost and he was eventually a runaway winner by a margin of 20 seconds with a time of 13 minutes and 58 seconds.
Max’s training partner Christopher Jackson also ran well to finish in 14th place.
Tynedale Harriers were well represented across the series of age group races with 18 junior members competing.
First off were the U17 women where Mia Richardson finished 25th closely followed by Tess Hartland in 28th, but the outstanding run in the girls’ events came later when 10-year-old Keely French finished eighth in the U11 race.
Aside from Max’s superb victory, the highest placed Harrier in the men’s events was Jonny Currie in 13th place in the U17 race with Toby Routledge 31 seconds behind in 18th.
Dominic Morley was 24th in the U15 event and Jack Donaldson 17th in the U11.
Meanwhile, six-year-old Finley Forster, of Corbridge, raised more than £500 for charity after taking part in the Mini Great North Run.
Sponsored by family and friends, he raised £572 for Help for Heroes, which provides support for British service men and women.
The youngster was inspired by his father, David Forster, an ex-army soldier who previously served in Northern Ireland and Germany.
Finley, a pupil at Corbridge First School, said: “I hope the money I have raised is enough to help our hero servicemen, so they can play football with their sons, like I do with my dad.”
First published at 09:03, Monday, 24 September 2012
Published by http://www.hexhamcourant.co.uk