Ian Bloomfield annoyed by marathon blunder

Ian Bloomfield.
Ian Bloomfield.

Former Sunderland Harrier Ian Bloomfield has had his British Marathon Over-60 record wiped off the record books after the Greater Manchester Marathon was found to be 380m short.

The mistake, caused by a measuring error, affects about 24,000 runners who competed in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

UK Athletics said that they will not now recognise times from those marathons, but the error was corrected in time for this year’s marathon, which was held on the April 10.

The Chester-le-Street runner said: “Obviously, this has had a direct impact upon the UK Over-60s marathon record that I set in Manchester in 2014 when recording 2:44:27, lowering the record by 1mins 59secs.

“The annoying part is, on that day it would only have taken me another 90secs or so to cover the additional 380m, which would still have kept me under the old record time.”

Marathon courses are measured using a bicycle fitted with a counter to calculate distance by the turning of the wheels.

The Association of UK Course Measurers (AUKCM) said: “An accredited measurer had ridden the course in 2013, but indicated there had been an error in the calibration of the bicycle wheel.

“Significant errors in measurement are rare – our procedures are designed to find them at the reporting or checking stages.”

The organisation said it regretted the mistake and the effect it has on runners’ times. Xtra Mile Events, organisers of the marathon, said the blame lay with AUKCM.

They said: “We all understand the anguish and huge disappointment this creates and want to assure our runners that we share the upset and emotion from the AUKCM news regarding the race distance.”

A true marathon distance is 26 miles and 385 yards.

Stanhope-residing Bloomfield, who was born in Fulwell and whose mother still lives in Roker, was greeted by the Manchester news just a couple of days before competing in last week’s London Marathon.

At London, he was chasing the 63-year-olds single age world best of 2.46.27. He was the first Over-60 to finish, but just missed out on the record, in clocking 2.49.02

The former international said: “It didn’t help when they announced a few days before London that the Manchester course distance in 2014 was short by 380m and I was disappointed, to say the least.

“The announcement provoked a lot of comments on social media. It was difficult to withhold a knee-jerk reaction at the time, as it could easily take away my focus from the London race.”

Now Bloomfield is looking further ahead for another record attempt, but he believes the conditions there will not be conducive for fast times.

He added: “I am two years older now and nearer to 65 than 60, but the 2:46:27 Over-60 British record is still the target, although it may be more of a challenge now than in 2014.

“I had planned to run the marathon in the World Masters Championships in Perth, Australia in November, but fast times may be out of the question here as the heat and humidity will probably be the main competitor.”

Sunderland Harriers veteran men will be chasing North East Masters Relay titles in the championships at Bedewell Park tonight (6.30pm).

The A teams are likely to be three from the following in each age group.

M35: Mark Head, Steven Potts, Ian Ritchie and Steven Gordon. M45: Michael Thompson, Tim Field, Alan Knebel, Brian Bewick. M55: Paul Collins, Paul Merrison, Steven Coxon. M65: Dave White, Jim Wightman, Eddie Maddison, Billy Bittlestone and Len Christopher.

The race headquarters are at Jarrow and Hebburn’s club house at Monkton Stadium.

The relays are for teams of three, each runner completing two laps of approximately 1.5k on tarmac paths.

Race times: 6.30pm Women and Over-65 Men – 7.15 approx Men 35-64.

Sunderland Harrier Gary Fox, an ever present during the club’s successful North Eastern Harrier League campaign, was nominated to collect the first division winning trophy at the Start Fitness presentation evening.

The Harriers won the Sisterton Cup for the first time since 2010.

Steve McMahon finished third in the Tees Barrage 10k on Monday. He is awaiting confirmation that he recorded a personal best of 34 minutes exactly. The Sunderland Harrier previous PB was 34:52.

He said: “It was a tough course with lots of twists and turns with head winds from 1.5 to four miles and you never got it back heading back to the finish.”

Houghton Harrier Alex Brown, 18, finished fourth (33.23.5) in the North East 10,000m Championship at Monkton, won by Morpeth’s Peter Newton (29.54.3).

Houghton’s Lee Dover was fifth (34.30.1) and Sunderland Harrier Jake Jenson finished sixth (34.44.3).

Next Wednesday, the Gordon Smith Relays are being run on a new course at West Allotment Country Park, Silverlink North.

Teams of three compete over a two mile fast, flat course starting at 7.30pm.