SUNDERLAND Harrier Michelle Avery “astonished” herself by winning the women’s section of yesterday’s Foundation of Light Lambton 10k multi terrain race for the fourth consecutive year.
What was so amazing by her performance is that she is five months pregnant with her first child and she did it on what is recognised as one of the toughest courses in the North East.
The 30-year-old said: “The race went off steady for me and I found myself at the front.
“Then it was a case of just keeping the pace going. I felt quite comfortable and won with a bit to spare in the end.
“The only problem I had was I could not wear my club vest. It was just too tight. I’m pleased I did not get disqualified!’’
Clubmate and training partner Vince Emmett added: “In training, she can’t keep up with me, but when it comes to a race I can’t get near her.’’
Avery is one of a growing number of endurance-based women who continue with their racing and training while pregnant. It is possible, say the specialists, to maintain and improve your fitness during pregnancy – as elite athletes Paula Radcliffe and Jo Pavey have shown.
Avery, who has won every one of the Lambton Runs since the inaugural one four years ago, finished 40th overall in a field approaching 600.
She clocked 42min 17sec to win by 30 seconds. The only real anxiety came when she was barged out of the way on the finish line by a charging male runner. But she did not raise an eyebrow and crossed the line for a remarkable win.
Mark Hood made it a double success for Sunderland Harriers with an emphatic victory on his Lambton debut, finishing nearly one minute ahead of the runner-up, Steve Rankin of Sunderland Strollers.
Hood said: “I ran round the course last year, as this is where I do most of my training. I was not entered then so I decided to enter this time. I knew it was a tough course.
“The race started off quite fast and it was not until about the 2k marker that the pace settled down.
“I took it on without any real increase in tempo and gradually moved away from the rest. I did not extend myself, as I intend racing on Wednesday in the Tynedale Harriers 10k.’’
Sunderland Strollers had a good day with four runners in the first 10, with Michael Laws. Andrew Powell and Michael Edwards backing up Rankin.
Results: 1 Mark Hood (S’land Harriers) 34.14, 2 Steve Rankin (S’land Strollers) 35.11, 3 Craig Deacon (Jarrow & Hebburn) 35.37, 4 Michael Laws (S’land Strollers) 35.47, 5 Ross Anderson (Jarrow & Hebburn) 36.02, 6 Andrew Powell (S’land Strollers) 36.05, 7 Darren Armstrong (Unatt) 36.28, 8 Vaughan Godber V40 (Hartlepool) 36.42, 9 Steven Medd (Gateshead) 36.55, 10 Michael Edwards (S’land Strollers) 37.03, 11 George Arthur V40 (South Shields) 37.23, 12Andrew Hopkins (Unatt) 37.42, 13 Ian Robinson (Heaton) 38.05, 14 Jon Strong V40 (North East Vets), 38.14, 15 Terry Topping V40 (S’land Strollers) 38.16.16 Steve Johnson V40 (Houghton Harriers) 38.41, 17 Paul Robinson (Clare) 39.28, 18 Gary Sykes (Unatt) 39.49, 19 Michael Boyle (S’land Strollers) 39.59, 20 Joseph Hall (Aycliffe) 40.05.
Women: 1 Michelle Avery (S’land Harriers) 42.17, 2 Joanne Levey (Unatt) 42.47, 3 Judith Thirwell V35 (Unatt) 42.54, 4 Kim Simpson (Durham City) 43.18, 5 Lisa Atkinson (Gateshead) 43.24, 6 Joanna Beckett (Crook) 43.32
H Sunderland Harrier Peter Richardson was the first over-60 in the Kirkley 10k Road Race. The Fulwell athlete finished 11th in 40.23. Sunderland Stroller Chris Tynemouth finished 13th in 41.02.