KENYAN teenager Peter Lemuya led the African charge in the 32nd running of the rain-lashed Start Fitness Blaydon Race on Saturday night.
The 18-year-old, having his first race on UK soil, came with a late kick to snatch the race (27.35) from Ethiopia’s Tewodros Shiferaw, the 2007 winner, just a few yards from the finish and grab the £1,000 first prize.
Just over a stride separated the two in the closest finish the race has ever seen with just three seconds covering the first four finishers.
Ethiopian Tadele Geremew, the winner of the North Tyneside 10k in April, finished third (27.37) while Wallsend’s Ethiopian Yared Hagos was fourth (27.38). Kenyan Milton Rotich finished fifth (27.42).
The only time the Africans did not feature at the front of the field from Newcastle to Blaydon was when they hit Scotswood Road and they ended up plodging through water, ankle deep in places.
They slowed and skipped to dry land, onto the path alongside, to let super veteran Ian Hudspith take charge. The Morpeth Harrier, who beat off the African dominance in 2009 to win the race, was eventually dropped at the flyover just before the finish, but still defied his 41 years to finish a superb sixth (27.51).
Young Durham City Harrier Michael Crawley carried on his improvement to finish eighth (28.10), one place ahead of Richmond and Zetland’s rising young star - 18-year-old Marc Scott (28.27).
Sunderland Harrier Mark Hood returned from injury to finish a creditable 14th (29.13), clubmate Kevin Calvert had his best Blaydon in 21st (30.10) and Damien Weston returned to the sport to finish 76th.
Over-45 veterans’ Jon Dobson and Paul Redman finished 73rd and 90th respectively. Guy Bracken (NSP) was first over-50 in 25th (30.17), Durham’s Ian Crampton was second in 47th (31.15) and Sunderland Harrier George Harden was sixth in 163rd.
Sunderland Strollers had Tim Allsop 65th (32.11) and first Houghton Harrier was Tom Grey in 108th.
The women’s race was won emphatically by 22-year-old British international Lauren Howarth of Leigh Harriers. She finished among some of the region’s leading club runners to take a magnificent 29th position overall (30.26) in a field of 4000.
Sunderland’s Alyson Dixon, second two years ago, was on course for one of her best Blaydon races when she was forced to slow through a stitch.
“It was at about four miles that it came on,’’ said the Chester-le-Street athlete.
“I was running alongside Rebbecca Robinson and was going well. I was going as fast as my best 10k pace and was on course for a good performance. But I just had to slow down. I’m really disappointed as I never seem to run well at Blaydon.’’
Robinson went onto to finish 31st (30.37) while Dixon ended up 50th in 31.19, just two places and three seconds ahead of Durham’s Rosie Smith. Sunderland Harrier Michelle Holt was 11th woman in 195th (35.06).
RESULTS, MEN: 1 Peter Lemuya (Kenya) 27.35, 2 Tadele Shiferaw (Ethiopia) 27.36, 3 Tadele Geremw (Ethiopia) 27.37, 4 Yared Hagos (Wallsend) 27.38, 5 Milton Rotich (Kenya) 27.42, 6 Ian Hudspith V40 (Morpeth) 27.51, 7 Luke Cragg (Mansfield) 28.06, 8 Michael Crawley (Durham) 28.10, 9 Marc Scott (Richmond) 28.27, 10 Ben Riddell (Salford) 28.37, 11 Daniel Bradford (Sale) 28.40, 12 Ian Harding (Morpeth) 28.44, 13 Ian Mitchell (Tipton) 28.55, 14 Mark Hood (Sun Harr) 29.13, 15 Stuart Robinson (Blackpoo)l 29.32, 16 Michael Dawson (Morpeth) 29.40, 17 James Buis (Heaton) 29.44, 18 Steve Cairns (Tyne Bridge) 29.46, 19 Matt Armstrong (Coventry) 29.59, 20 Chris Birchall (Leeds) 30.02, 21 Kevin Calvert (Sun Harr) 30.10, 22 Tony Carter (Tyne Bridge) 30.12, 23 Phil Coulson( Low Fell) 30.13, 24 Ian Twaddle V40 (North Shields) 30.16, 25 Guy Bracken V50 (North Shields) 30.17.
WOMEN: 1 Lauren Howarth ( Leigh) 30.26, 2 Rebecca Robinson (Kendal) 30.37, 3 Alyson Dixon (Chest- le- St) 31.19, 4 Rosie Smith (Durham) 31.22, 5 Katie Good (Thames Val), 32.52, 6 Danielle Hodgkinson (Wallsend) 33.05, 7 Emily Birchall (Leeds) 33.55, 8 Stacey Rogers (Wallsend) 34.04, 9 Aiveen Fox (Durham) 34.30, 10 Alison Dargie W35 (Elswick) 35.32, 11 Michelle Holt (Sund Harr) 35.06, 12 Yam Thiru W45( Elswick) 35.32, 13 Joanne Lee W35 Tynedale 35.49, 14 Angela Hunter Chester le St 36.06, 15 Vicky Hindson (Wallsend) 36.07, 16 Claire McManus W35 (North Shields) 36.20.