NATHAN REED ran the perfect cagey race to claim his first ever Penshaw Hill Race victory in the North East Vending-sponsored event last night.
The 21-year-old Sunderland Harrier went into the 23rd running of the race as the man in form after smashing his personal bests for 800m and 1500m on the track and winning the North East 1500m silver medal.
Facing the Hall Farm athlete was clubmate and Penshaw kingpin Brian Rushworth, winner an amazing 18 times and still far from a spent force, even at the age of 50.
Another threat was 27-year-old Liam Taylor, the 2011 winner, returning to the sport after a long-term injury problem.
And the Sunderland Stroller laid down the gauntlet, blazing a trail up to the monument to claim the prime prize for the first runner to the top of the hill.
He was well out on his own, with the rest of the field 15 seconds back and appearing to be fighting it out for the minor medals.
But Reed and Rushworth were having none of that and, on the first lap, before entering Penshaw Woods, they had cut the lead to just 10 seconds. Going into the final lap, the three were locked together in combat and a battle royal ensued.
First to surrender was Taylor as Rushworth took command, with Reed on his shirt-tail. Just before the final gruelling climb to the monument, the younger legs of Reed hit the front and now he was on his way to a significant victory over the valiant Rushworth, with Taylor off the pace.
Reed, who was down in 12th place as they made their way to the top of the hill on first lap, knew exactly what he was doing.
He said: “I’ve always wanted to win this race after reading about Brian’s successes at Penshaw in the Echo when I was a young boy.
“This is a dream come true for me.
“I’m over the moon and absolutely delighted with my performance.
“I was never under any distress. I felt comfortable throughout and I was confident I could win, if I started steady.
“I’d love to win this race the number of times that Brian has won it.’’
Rushworth threw everything he had into trying to win, but father time was not on his side last night. He said: “I’m disappointed. I tried, but I could not shake Nathan off. He flew up the hill at the finish – I can’t believe he took 14 seconds out of me. ‘’
Taylor climbed the final hill well and, at the finish, was just three seconds behind Rushworth.
Michelle Avery gave Sunderland Harriers a golden double by winning her fifth title.
She finished 25th overall in 20.09. Sunderland Strollers filled the next two places with Ashleigh Thorpe (21.09) and Jenna Maynard (22.23), who also won the women’s prime prize. Sunderland Harrier Amy Coulson was fourth (23.27) with Stroller Rachel Ball, celebrating her 31st birthday, in fifth (23.29).
Results: 1 Nathan Reed (Sun Harr) 16.40, 2 Brian Rushworth V50 (Sun Harr) 16.54, 3 Liam Taylor (Sun Stroll) 16.57, 4 Michael Barker (Sun Harr) 17.24, 5 Ian Dixon (Sun Harr) 17.46, 6 Tim Field V45 (Sun Harr) 17.47, 7 Steve Rankin (Sun Stroll) 17.53, 8 Will Horsley (Elvet) 17.56, 9 Paul Merrisson V50 (Sun Harr) 18.03, 10 Jon Dobson V45 (Sun Harr) 18.31, 11 Paul Weir (Sedgefield) 18.41, 12 Paul Redman (Sun Harr) 18.53,13 Paul Bainbridge (Sth Shields) 18.59, 14 Mark Hodgson (Sth Shields) 19.06, 15 Alan Hadden (NSP) 19.08, 16 Tommy Dunn (Sedefield) 19.20, 17 John Hunt (Sun Harr) 19.21, 18 Andrew Powell (Sun Stroll) 19.23, 19 David Morrow (Sth Shields) 19.29. 20 Jon Davies (Sun Stroll) 19.31.