Bob Houston: Right time to hand over reins

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BLAYDON Race organiser Bob Houston will bow out of organising one of the North East’s biggest road races for the last time on Saturday, June 9.

He will step aside and hand over the reins after being at the helm since the death of race founder Jim Dewar.

“It’s a massive event, it has been a large part of my life for many years. But now I feel the time is right to hand over the organising duties,’’ he said.

Dewar organised the first 24 races starting in 1981. In the early years, the race attracted around 250 entries, but by 2004 a record 4,000 people took part with more than 600 other hopefuls rejected.

The 25th anniversary of the race was run by the Blaydon Harriers in 2005 as the “Nike Jim Dewar Blaydon Race” in memory of Dewar, who died in June 2004 just two days after the running of the 24th event.

Now 71-year-old Houston will depart having attracted another massive entry of 4000 and one of the best ever fields.

With the race taking part on the ninth of June every year and this time falling on a Saturday, that has helped to attract even more quality athletes than usual,

There will be the usual contingent of African athletes bidding to win the £1,000 first prize but they could be pushed by a handy bunch of British runners that are making the trek to Tyneside.

Ethiopia will again be well to the fore with 2007 winner Tewodros Shiferaw, Tyneside 10k winner Tadele Geremew and Wallsend’s prolific North East race winner Yared Hago, all likely winners.

Ian Hudspith, the 41-year-old Morpeth veteran, could lead the North East contingent. He was fifth last year and won in 2009.

Sunderland Harriers Mark Hood and Kevin Calvert plus Durham City’s Michael Crawley lead the Wearside challenge. Hood is targeting this race after another injury problem. The women’s race has Clapham Chaser Justina Heslop going for her fourth victory. Sunderland’s Alyson Dixon (Chester-le-Street) and Ethiopians Getenesh Tamirit and Kidist Yincheneku will provide the challenge.

The course will be changed this year, because of redevelopment at Blaydon Shopping Centre. The finish will be on the playing fields at Shibdon Road and the Derwenthaugh Marina section will be reduced in distance so that the total race distance will still be around 5.9 miles The race starts at 6.00pm.

H Sunderland Stroller Kevin Blyth ran his third marathon in five weeks in the Edinburgh Marathon on Sunday.

 He finished 127th and clocked 2.59.33 to add to his 2.56.06 London clocking and his 3.07.43 time in the Sunderland Marathon of the North. Clubmate Paul Lumsdon recorded 3.38.39.

H Wallsend’s Yared Hagos won the Raby Castle 10k in a record-breaking 30.16 and Durham City Harrier Aiveen Fox was first woman (39.23). Sunderland Stroller Brian Carroll was 45th (44.49).

H Sunderland Strollers held their club one mile club championship at the Silksworth track and a total of 65 athletes took part.

Chris Dunn and Steve Rankin broke the five-minute mile barrier. Results: 1 Chris Dunn 4.45, 2 Steve Rankin 4.59, 3 Kevin Blyth 5.15, 4 Tim Allsop 5.15, 5 Graeme Pullan 5.32, 6 Ken Maynard 5.32, 7 Matthew Higson 5.33, 8 Adnan Khan 5.35, 9 Mick Armstrong 5.56, 10 Vicky Booth 5.58.

H Entries close on Friday for the Lambton multi-terrain 10k approx on Sunday, June (10.00am). Details from Katrina Quinn, SAFC Foundation, Stadium of Light. Telephone: 551 5191. Email: katrina.quinn@safc.com or visit the website at www.willow-burn.co.uk.

H Tonight, the George Ogle Memorial multi-terrain race is held at Rowlands Gill. Low Fell Running Club host their Angle View multi-terrain race tomorrow night from the Angel View Hotel at 7.15pm.