Marathon man hit by injury woe

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SUNDERLAND Harrier Len Christopher’s hopes of further glory in the London Marathon have been dashed through injury.

The 65-year-old has been forced to withdraw after he tore his hamstring during a cross country race.

The Southwick athlete won the gold medal for the London over-55 category in 2002, clocking 2.49.50. Then, in 2007, he was second over-60, as a 62-year-old, in a time of 2.58.59.

His target this time had been the over-65 class, where he would have been one of the favourites for another gold medal, as last year it was won in 3.10, a time well within Christopher’s grasp.

“I’m very disappointed as this was my target after I reached my 65th birthday,’’ he said.

“Although I’m back training and I had my last physio appointment yesterday, I just haven’t got the training behind me to consider running.’’

It was in the North Eastern Harrier League at Blaydon in November that Christopher’s injury nightmare started.

“I had only completed one and a half laps of the course when I was forced to stop through a sharp pain in my hamstring. It was like being shot in the back of the leg, the pain was excruciating.

“I got medical advice and was told I had torn my hamstring, but I didn’t think then it would take this long to heal. I’ve been receiving treatment since and it is only now that I am getting on top of it.

“I was training 65 miles each week, but now I’m down to 20 miles, only running three to four times each week, so I’m in no shape to consider London. I’ve informed the organisers that I’m unable to run through injury. They have held my entry over for next year and I will have a guaranteed place.”

Christopher has reorganized his racing schedule and will now be competing in the Wallsend Harriers’ Terry O’Gara 5k Memorial Road Race held on Sunday, April 22 – the same day as London. If all goes well, Christopher has pencilled in the Sunderland City 10k road race on Sunday, May 6, as another comeback race.

“I will be giving London a go next year and be aiming for a medal and these two races will be my launch pad.’’

H Sunderland Harrier Steve Gordon was a veteran prize winner in the Northumberland half marathon at Wallington. He finished 13th and fifth veteran, third over-40, in 1.22.41. Sunderland Stroller Steve McMahon was 21st (1.24.28) in the race won by Morpeth’s Michael Morris (1.13.29). There were 533 finishers.

H Sunderland Harriers, Mark Hood and Kevin Calvert will be among the front runners in the Hartlepool Marina five-miles road race on Sunday. The race starts at 10.30am from the Maritime Experience. There is a 500 limit.

The Blyth Valley 10k is also held on Sunday at 10am from Quay Road at the Quayside.