Eventful pier-to-pier success gives Tewelde second Sunderland title on successive weeks

Saltwell Harrier Abraham Tewelde.
Saltwell Harrier Abraham Tewelde.
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Saltwell Harrier Abraham Tewelde won his second Sunderland race within eight days with his victory in the Sunderland Strollers Pier-to-Pier run from South Shields to Roker yesterday.

The Eritrean, fresh from his record-breaking victory in the Events of the North half marathon (70.07) at Keel Square last Sunday, returned to the Sunderland Strollers seven-mile event – a race in which you had to find your own way to the finish.

This is sometimes a difficult task for locals in finding the quickest route without running on the highway, but, for Tewelde, who had never been to the coast previously, this was a tricky assignment!

Saltwell realised what faced their top runner, so they had an early-morning briefing session and a tour of the course before the record-breaking event, with 1,250 entries, got underway at 10am.

But the instructions seemed to go out of the window, as he took the wrong turn on the coastal path, not long after the start, losing 200 yards and slipping into second place.

The race leader was now Conrad Franks, but Tewelde had joined him by Souter Lighthouse and they ran together for a while, with the Gateshead Harrier sportingly shouted instructions on the best route to take.

This continued for the rest of the race until the finish on the beach at Roker was sighted by Tewelde, who then made his move for victory.

Franks, who notched up his third time in finishing second, said: “I was just pleased to help him out. He’s a nice man.

“He also was attacked by a dog just after the start, it was testing race for him.’’

In third place was Sparrow Morley, who has recently transferred to Tyne Bridge Harriers from Sunderland Harriers. Fourth was Over-45 John Clifford (Evenwood) and Gary Wallace (Blackhill Bounders) ended fifth.

Sunderland Strollers provided the winner of the women’s race in Wendy Chapman, who was running as an unattached athlete last year.

The 48-year-old said: “I joined the Strollers in January, as I was doing the London Marathon and I was looking for extra training.

“I did London in three hours and 20 minutes and was delighted with that. The Strollers are great company and really helped me with my training.

“I started out doing the Great North Run three years ago and last year I was the first unattached runner to finish in the Blaydon race.

“I’m thrilled to have won my club’s own race, it was a hard, but worth the pain for also winning my first race.’’

As a measure of her progress, the Fulford Grange athlete finished third in last Sunday’s Sunderland 10k, beating her best time by four minutes.