THE years tick by – but Eddie Maddison keeps going to ensure his Great North Run record remains intact, as he prepares for his next journey from Newcastle to South Shields on Sunday.
The 65-year-old Sunderland Harrier will be running his 33rd GNR, having competed in every one since the first in 1981.
He is one of a dwindling bunch of runners that have kept their ever-present record intact.
They have been acknowledged for their commitment to the world’s biggest half marathon over the years by organisers Nova. Maddison was presented with a special plaque to mark his 20th appearance and four years ago he was introduced to Haile Gebrselassie and also to four-times Olympic champion Michael Johnson, at a special race photo call.
“I told Michael that I was struggling with a hamstring injury, but it would not stop me. He was just amazed how I managed to run the race every year and said I must be a very determined guy,” said the South Hylton athlete.
It is the same hamstring injury that is giving him concern as Sunday approaches. The problem has affected him in previous races and a few years ago he was forced to stop for a 10-minute massage. But he gritted his teeth to get going again and still managed to clock 1hr 39mins.
Maddison is no slouch when it comes to the GNR – as a 39-year-old, he recorded his fastest time of 1hr 13min 24sec and as a 49-year-old he recorded an impressive 1hr 16min 30sec. Now he says he will be happy to break two hours on Sunday.
He added: “The years seem to be catching up on me, as every year it is getting harder to get into decent shape for the race. I don’t expect too much. I have set myself a target of two hours and if I go under that it will be a bonus.”
Clubmate Mark Hood bids to be the first finisher from Wearside when he competes in his fourth GNR. His highest position is 23rd (2011) and his fastest clocking is 66.33 from 2008.
The Chester-le-Street primary school teacher’s ambition is to break into the Harriers’ top ten fastest ever times. And that will be no easy task as can be seen by the all-time list.
It reads: Brian Rushworth (63.35) 1990, Malcolm Price (63.38) 1997, Paul Campbell (64.14) 1991, Glenn Forster (64.43) 1984, Ian Haggan (64.50) 1990, Dave Hill 65.04 1987, Graham Smith (65.28) 1984, Dave Jenkin (65.30) 1989, Calum Bark (65.45) 1985 and Paul Cuskin (65.57) 1993.
Craig Isherwood, who has been taking training advice from Hood, will be hoping that his fourth appearance over the half marathon distance this year will be a lot smother this time around. In his two previous half marathons he has been met with misfortune.
He finished third in the Sunderland Half marathon of the North in PB of 71.51, only to be told days later that the whole field, apart from winner Mark Hood, had run a short course.
Then in the Durham Coastal half marathon he was one of three runners that were leading the race that went off course. The improving Sunderland Harrier could threaten the benchmark of 70 minutes for the distance.
Sunderland Stroller Alyson Dixon will be seeking to improve on her best figures of 74:15 from 2010. Her fastest time is 71.20 from this year’s Bath half marathon.
The World championship runner is in heavy training mode with the Frankfurt Marathon at the end of October in her sights. She is chasing a place in the England team for next year’s Glasgow Commonwealth Games where she heads the ranking list with her 2.31.08 from the Brighton Marathon.