PERSONAL bests could be the order of the day when the the oldest ten-mile road race gets under way from Brampton to Carlisle on Saturday.
The 60th running of the event hosted by Border Harriers is held on a super fast course and runners can be helped on their way by a following wind.
A cash bonus of £100 will be added to the first prizes of £150, if the men’s winner can beat 49mins and in the women’s race the target is 55mins.
Blackpool’s Nick Sloane set the superb course record of 45mins 50secs in 1975. Angie Pain, bronze medallist in the 1990 Commonwealth Marathon, holds the women’s record with a sizzling 51mins 51secs from 1989.
But only four men during the last 20 years have run under 49mins and Sunderland Harriers have two of them. Brian Rushworth clocked a lifetime best of 47:37 in 1993 and Malcolm Price in 1999 recorded 48:30.
The other two are former Chester-le-Street athlete Michael Openshaw (Birchfield Harriers) who in 2002 ran 48:35 and Carl Thackeray (Hallamshire) who stopped the clock on 46:29 in 1991.
Sunderland Harriers will have a number of athletes travelling to Cumbria on Saturday for the 12.30pm start from the William Howard School in Brampton. While they are not expected to contest top three positions they have their own personal goals in their section of the race which attracts more than 600 runners.
Michelle Holt will want to be one of the leading runners in the women’s race and her best of 61.03 from 2004 is due for revision.
Steve Potts finished 12th last year, although his time was a modest 54.35. His fastest is also a long-standing mark of 53.07 which goes back to 2005.
Paul Redman, an over-45, recorded his fastest time of 58.12 for 26th position in last year’s “Brampton” and he will be looking to dip under 58 minutes for the first time, if the conditions are favourable.
Len Christopher, who has just celebrated his 65th birthday, will be chasing his categories first prize. The over-55 London Marathon 2002 gold medallist has a best of 68.50 for this year.
Race favourite will be Ethiopian Yared Hagos, who collected a £200 bonus on top of the £200 first prize for smashing the course record in last week’s Derwentwater 10-mile road race. Hagos, who lives in Newcastle, sliced ten seconds off Cumbrian fell-running legend Kenny Stuart’s previous fastest of 49min 15sec from 1986.
The race has an illustrious history having been won by some of Britain’s top road runners.
The first five races, from 1951 to 1955, run over a distance of just over eight and a half miles, were all won by Elswick Harriers’ Bill Boak. Morpeth’s Jim Alder won the race in 1963, 1964 and 1965.
Another household name at the time, Ron Hill led the field home in a brisk 46min 40sec in 1974, while the following year Hayley Haining from Dumfries (Kilbarchan AAC) is the only three times winner of the women’s race, in 2004, 2005 and 2007 (when her 54mins 31sec run saw her finish eighth overall).
This year’s race incorporates the Northern Athletics Championships. There are comprehensive individual, veteran and team cash prizes to be competed for by all competitors. T shirts will be presented to all finishers.