Sunderland Harriers set a new record for their 24th Sunderland 5km Road Race at Silksworth Sports Complex last Thursday when 147 athletes set a personal best for the distance on the superfast course.
In perfect, windless conditions on a warm evening, with a cracking field in both races towing the start line, officials knew that something special would be on the cards.
Although both the winners of the men’s and women’s races did not set PBs, their times were significant.
Dominic Shaw, the men’s winner, was just six seconds outside his fastest time (14.27) and it was the quickest time on the course since Morpeth’s Ian Hudspith clocked 14.24 in 2004.
And Wallsend’s Danielle Hodgkinson retained her woman’s title in a time of 16.31 – just three seconds outside her 5km best.
Behind Shaw, the next four runners all recorded PBs including promising Houghton Harrier Under-20 Alec Brown.
He shattered his former best, breaking 15 minutes for the first time in recording 14.49 to clinch bronze medals in both the North East and Northern Championship.
The fifth runner to finish was Sunderland Harrier Oliver James, who also dipped below 15 minutes for the first time (14.58) and became only the third Sunderland runner to do so in the history of the race.
Brian Rushworth won the race six times with his fastest time set in 2000 with 14.34 and Mark Hood who recorded 14.45 twice in 2008 and 2009.
James has now left for America where he continues his four-year dentistry studies in Louisville University, Kentucky.
Sunderland, who won the Northern Championship women’s team race with Alice Smith, Jess Fox and Sarah Knight, saw Fox have her best race for a couple of years, setting new figures for 5km with her 18.48.
Under-17 Sarah Knight was also in good form with her PB run of 19.14.
In the Over-50 veterans’ race, Guy Bracken (North Shields) moved to number two on the UK Over-55 rankings with his winning time of 16.12, and Sunderland Harrier Paul Collins comes in at number nine with his 17.17 for his third place finish in the race.
The Sunderland Harriers who set a PB in the 5km were: Oliver James (14.58), Kevin Jeffress (15.29), Craig Gunn (16.27), Paul Collins Over-55 (17.17), Graeme Pullan (18.00), Kris Cantle (18.03), Darren Stoker Over-45 (18.07), Darren Dodd Over-45 (18.37), Cameron Lawton Under-15 (18.44), Jess Fox Under-20 (18.48), Sarah Knight Under-17 (19.14), Christopher Nicholas Over-40 (19.45), Amy Callaghan (19.57), David Bruce (20.21), Rhys Clark Under-15 (20.29), Barry Marlee Over-45 (20.51), Andrew Hughes (21.22), Grace Mackie Under-17 (23.12), David New Over-50 (23.18), Doreen Dickman Over-55 (24.08), Amanda Mackie Over-50 (24.22), Matthew Knight Over-45 (24.43), Debbie McRory Over-50 (26.10) and Sharon Preece Over-50 (29.37).
Houghton Harriers: Alex Brown (14.49), Cameron Allan (15.50), Anna Pigford Under-17 (20.15), Gillian Tomlinson Over-50 (20.15) and Carla King Over-35 (23.46).
Sunderland Strollers: Mark Anderson (16.25), Chris Dwyer (17.15), Callum Thom (17.22, Jamie Collin (17.23), Andrew Duke Over-45 (17.44), Kel Scott (17.52), Gary Dunmore Over-45 (19.31), Gillian Ritchie Over-35 (19.57), Andrew Urwin (24.23) and Paul Arnott Over-50 (25.43).
Sunderland Harrier Vicky Haswell, 39-years-old, has successfully rekindled her 800m track running career after a period of 25 years.
It was in 1993 at the age of 14 that she won an Under-15 bronze medal (2.16.99) in the English Schools’ Athletics Championships. The time still stands as a Sunderland Harriers age record.
She returned to the two lap event on Saturday in Sheffield and won the Over-35 Northern Masters championship in a PB for her age, slicing two seconds off her age best with her time of 2.31.83.
Her clubmate Nikki Woodward made it a double for the Harriers with victory in the Over-40 event (2.37.17).
Tonight sees the Events of the North Durham 10km and 5km races.
The World Heritage site provides the backdrop to this exciting event that chases through the narrow cobbled streets and along the RiverWear, with the imposing 900-year-old Cathedral always beckoning.
The 5km and 10km races start 10 minutes apart, facing each other across the ancient Market Square.
5km runners will set off first at 7.15pm, with the 10km runners following 10 minutes later.
The finish is at the Palace Green in between the Cathedral and the Castle. All competitors have free access to the Durham City Park and Ride system so no need to worry about parking.