North East Marathons are beginning to attract big interest

Houghton Harrier Dominic Ellis celebrated winning the England Athletics North East volunteer runner-up of the year award.
Houghton Harrier Dominic Ellis celebrated winning the England Athletics North East volunteer runner-up of the year award.

Three marathons in eight days have recently taken place in the North East when just a few years ago there was not one on the fixture list.

Add to those new events, the Kielder Marathon on Sunday, October 2, and that is four races over the classic distance in October.

Close to 250,000 people applied for places in the Virgin Money London Marathon to show that the sport is in good health.

The North East events are attracting a growing number of participants to endorse Sport England’s Active People survey that states that athletics, including jogging, has recorded the biggest rise in participation of any sport in England in recent years.

The number of weekly runners in England rose by 63,000 to 2.1 million last year.

The Morpeth to Newcastle Marathon on Sunday revived memories of the classic Morpeth to Newcastle New Year’s Day Road Race, which was first held in 1904, but came to the end of its road in 2006, due to spiralling costs.

While the marathon was finishing on Newcastle’s quayside on Sunday, there was another taking place just up the road on Newcastle’s Town Moor.

Kielder is by far the biggest marathon in the North East with around 1,000 competitors, while the Northumbeland Castles Marathon attracted just 48 runners, although the half marathon held at the same time had over 350 finishers.

With no more marathons in the North East until next October, some club runners are looking to the London Marathon as their next target race over the 26 miles 385 yards distance.

The race on April 26 will boast 38,000 runners – almost five times the 7,747 who ran the first race in 1981

For those club runners that missed out on a place in the London Marathon they have another opportunity to gain an entry.

To qualify for club entries, athletics clubs must be a member of England Athletics.

They can gain up to four places according to the number of members affiliated to England Athletics. Club secretaries need to submit applications by Monday, November 28.

The draw for Sunderland Strollers’ London entry will take place prior to the club session tonight under the stewardship of Kevin O’Neill.

Sunderland Harriers members have to have their names for the London Marathon entry draw to club secretary Michael Hill by Thursday, November 10.

For those that like an even bigger challenge, the Strollers host their Urban Ultra Trail race on Saturday, November 12.

Entrants can complete the full ultra course (approx 35 miles) or form a team with another runner to enter the Relay Ultra (approx 17.5 miles each).

Transport to and from the changeover points will be provided. Entry details are on the Strollers website.

Houghton Harrier Dominic Ellis has won the England Athletics North East volunteer runner-up of the year award.

He has juggled his various volunteering commitments with GSCE and A level studies. He volunteers at both Houghton Harriers and at Chester-le-Street Athletics Club.

Houghton Harriers recognized his efforts by making him junior member of the year and noted his particular contribution in working with fellow coaches with the Under-11 group.

He also helps out with the Gan Canny Group at Chester-le-Street AC on a weekly basis.

The 17-year-old has also started to officiate at a number of track and field events across the North-East and has started his officiating qualifications.

He most recently officiated at the English National Schools’ finals and has also helped out with the North-East Counties Track and Field Championships.

Within his officiating duties he has helped with field events, track judging and timekeeping, call-up areas as well as other roles.

He is currently the youngest qualified official within the North-East Counties area and has already built a reputation as being an organized, reliable, efficient and calm referee earning the respect of many of his older and more experienced colleagues.