INTERNATIONAL Ryan McLeod led from the off to run out a comfortable winner of last night’s 21st Sunderland 5k at Silksworth Sports Complex.
The Tipton Harrier triumphed by an emphatic 25 seconds to win the North Eastern Championship, which was combined with the race.
A record field of 348 finishers got off to a fast start as they headed down to the long straight along the former railway line, before completing the first lap of the fishing lake.
At that point, McLeod, watched by his father Mick, the North East’s 1976 Olympic 10,000m silver medallist, had a nine-second lead over the chasing pack of three.
It contained top junior tri-athlete Calum Johnson and last year’s defending champion Lewis Timmins, who were to go on to finish second and third respectively.
A slight mix-up going into the second lap around the top lake saw McLeod lose a few seconds, but he was so far ahead, it would make no difference to the result with 1.5k remaining.
At the finish, the former Elswick Harrier, based in the Midlands, stopped the watch on 14min 40sec and he said afterwards that he was pleased with his run.
“I came here for a good workout and that’s what I got,” said McLeod. “It is a good course and always has a good field. I’ve run it before but have never won it, so it’s nice to come here again and do it.”
Sunderland Harrier Kevin Calvert had his best ever road race, finishing fourth after a sprint finish in a new best on the course of 15.21, knocking 16 seconds off his previous fastest.
Also showing good form was clubmate Kevin Jeffress, who finished inside the top 10 in eighth (15.51). Next came Ian Dixon in 30th (17.00) and Steve Potts 37th (17.07).
Sunderland Strollers were headed by Andy Powell in 23rd (16.51), Michael Laws 25th (16.52) and Steve McMahon 26th (16.52).
Ripon’s over-35 veteran Sharon Barlow made her journey from North Yorkshire worthwhile with victory in the women’s race 17.15). But the North East championship gold medal went to Jarrow and Hebburn’s Alex Snook, who finished second in 17.31.
Results: 1 Ryan McLeod (Tipton) 14.40, 2 Calum Johnson (Gateshead) 15.15, 3 Lewis Timmins (Morpeth) 15.18, 4 Kevin Calvert (Sunderland Harriers) 15.21, 5 Daniel Johnson (Gateshead) 15.22, 6 Dan Jenkin (Durham) 15.23, 7 Nathan Shrubb (Morpeth) 15.31, 8 Kevin Jeffress (Sunderland Harriers) 15.51, 9 Scott Ellis (North Shields) 15.55, 10 James Askew (Durham) 15.57.
Women: 1 Sharon Barlow W35 (Ripon) 17.15, 2 Alex Snook (Jarrow & Hebburn) 17.31, 3 Emma Pearson (Morpeth) 17.48, 4 Clare McManus W35 (North Shields) 18.14, 5 Vicky Gibbs (Morpeth) 18.24, 6 Maxine Czarnecka (Jarrow & Hebburn) 18.53.