Leeds City athlete Carl Smith and Elswick’s Justina Heslop stole the show in the 22nd Sunderland Harriers 5k Road Race at Silksworth Sports Complex last night.
Both carried off the Northern and North East titles in the new race arrangement of two separate events for men and women.
Congestion on the tight course forced the organisers to make this move and athletes greeted the decision with positive feedback.
Smith, a former Chester-le-Street runner, dominated the race and clocked the fastest time since 2011. He set out the way he intended to finish, at the front of the field, and by the 1k marker he was out on his own, passing the first lap with a five seconds lead over the chasing Lewis Timmins, a twice winner of the race, and Durham’s Dan Jenkin.
At the finish, he stopped the clocked in the fine time of 14.37, and his lead had grown to 15 seconds over second-placed Timmins with Jenkin holding onto third spot by just one second.
Smith said: “I’m really pleased with my run, it was four years ago that I ran here last and tonight I have ran one minute quicker than I did then.
It’s a good course. The race went over very quickly with doing the small fishing lake lap first. I really enjoyed it.Carl Smith
“It’s a good course. The race went over very quickly with doing the small fishing lake lap first. I really enjoyed it.”
First Sunderland Harrier home was Kevin Jeffress in 16th in a personal best of 15.32. Sparrow Morley was next in 23rd (15.50) and Andy Powell was 25th (15.53) to give Sunderland fifth team in the Northern Championship, just seven points behind third placed Tyne Bridge.
Next Sunderland runner home was Nathan Reed in 26th (15.59), then came Steve McMahon in 31st (16.07), Michael Laws 34th (16.20) and Ian Dixon was 35th (16.21). Michael Thompson was third over-45 in 38th (16.23), Paul Blakey was second over-40 in 41st (16.28), and Sean Mackie, a 15-year-old, had a stunning performance, finishing 51st (16.55).
Heslop passed the first lap with a 10-second advantage and at the finish she had 43 seconds to spare on the runner-up in the women’s race.
She said: “This was my debut here and the course suited me. It is very quick and that seemed to count in my favour. I used the fast start downhill to my advantage and the gap just seemed to grow.”
In second place was an athlete outside the area, Amelia Petitit of Vale Royal, who clocked 17.11. Durham City Harrier Rosie Smith continued her comeback from injury with third place in 17.16, two seconds in front of Alex Sneddon, the North East 5000m champion.
Sunderland Harriers women just missed out on Northern team medals in fourth, with 16-year-old Jess Fox having an outstanding run in 14th (19.02), Nicola Woodward was 17th (19.53) and Judith Thirlwell was 23rd (20.39).
In the combined over-50 men’s race, Britain’s top veteran in this category, Guy Bracken, won in the superb time of 15.39. Sunderland Harrier Tim Field was second (17.14) and Paul Redman was seventh (18.10).
Race Results: Senior men 1 Carl Smith (Leeds) 14.37, 2 Lewis Timmins (Morpeth) 14.52, 3 Dan Jenkin (Durham) 14.56, 4 Howell Craske (Corstorphine) 14.57, 5 Carl Avery (Morpeth) 14.57, 6 Barry Maskell (Gateshead) 15.10, 7 Ross Floyd (Morpeth) 15.11, 8 Adrian Bailes (Birtley) 15.12, 9 Chris Smith (Morpeth) 15.13, 10 Dan Johnson (Gateshead0 15.15. 11 Ian Harding (Morpeth) 15.17, 12 Thomas Straughan (Morpeth) 15.20, 13 Jordan Bell (Blackhill) 15.24, 14 Kevin Calvert (Morpeth) 15.29, 15 Karl Taylor (Morpeth) 15.31.
Women: 1 Justina Heslop (Elswick) 16.28, 2 Amedlia Petitit (Vale Royal) 17.11, 3 Rosie Smith (Durham) 17.16, 4 Alex Sneddon (Jarr & Heb) 17.20, 5 Emma Holt (Morpeth) 17.23, 6 Alison Dargie (Tyne Bridge) 17.43, 7 Jacqueline Penn (NSP) 17.57, 8 Joanna Owens (Alnwick) 18.02, 9 Chloe Price (Durham) 17.43), 10 Kerie Pearson (Hull) 18.27.