Sunderland Harrier Alice Smith’s out to defend her Lambton Run 10km title

Alice Smith first woman in the 2016 Foundation of Light 10K Lambton Run.
Alice Smith first woman in the 2016 Foundation of Light 10K Lambton Run.

One of the North East’s most unique challenge events will celebrate its eighth anniversary on Sunday.

The Foundation of Light’s Lambton 10km and 3km Runs, launched in 2011 in partnership with the Lambton Estate, has seen hundreds of runners take part and support the charity’s work throughout the region.

Endorsed by the Earl of Durham, the popular running event is set in the exclusive and private Lambton Estate, not usually accessible to the public and the setting for BBC drama, The Paradise.

And it is fitting that runners from local clubs are among the leading challengers.

Sunderland Harriers’ Michael Barker and Alice Smith, plus Houghton Harrier Lee Dover and Sunderland Stroller Wendy Chapman, head the list of entries so far.

Smith will be defending her title and she will be looking for a comfortable run, as on Tuesday she is competing in the Tynedale 10km at Ovingham.

She has won her last two races with victories in the New Marske 10km and Sunday’s Aycliffe 10km. Two wins in eight days.

Barker will be looking to improve on his runners-up position of last year and the much improved Dover, fourth in 2016, could be his leading challenger.

Chapman was down in 45th position last year, but a much improved performance is on the cards following her Over-45 veterans win in the big Blaydon Race on June 9.

The 10km route has seen a number of changes since its launch, with the current course including the magnificent Lambton Castle. It is a rural undulating challenge which has proved popular with club and recreational runners alike.

The race’s final stretch includes a 1km double hill which participants have dubbed the ‘Killer K’ due to its energy sapping 120ft elevation.

Suitable for families and runners of all ages and abilities, the less demanding 3km Family Fun Run is perfect for younger participants.

The 10km starts at 10am, with the 3km off at 10.10am. Late entries will be available.

The Lambton Run is one of the events that has contributed to the city’s place in the UK league for running events. A MoneySuperMarket.com infographic has ranked the cities according to the number of events and the cost of entry fees.

London is again the top city, with access to over 170 events according and an average entry cost of £29.39 (compared to a national average of £27.55); but the next top location was Aberdeen – where the number of events was low, at only four, but the average cost was £9.96, £17.58 lower than the average.

Sunderland is ranked 21st, with Newcastle second bottom of the league in 29th.

Sunderland’s race entry prices range from £6 for the Sunderland Harriers 5km on July 15, to £34 for the Events of the North Half Marathon in May.

Sunderland Strollers added to the count with their Pier-to-Pier race with over 1,000 runners.

Laura Weightman, a Commonwealth silver and European bronze medallist over 1,500m, turned out in the British Milers’ Club meeting at Chester-le-Street as she prepares for World Championship selection for London in August.

The Morpeth Harrier competed over 800m in a paced mixed race where she finished second in 2.02.67. Her best is 2.02.52 from 2012.

Just behind in third place was Houghton Harrier Lee Dover, who recorded a PB of 2.03.10.

There were some fine performances from Houghton Harriers, headed by Under-15 Henry Johnson, following on from his success in the Inter County Schools’ match at Hexham on Saturday, where he won the 1,500m in 4.10.02. He finished fourth in the B 800m in 1.59.76.

Under-15 Will Bellamy celebrated his English Schools’ selection by winning the G 800m in a PB of 2.06.21.

Other personal bests came from Under-20 Adam Middleton (2.12.87), Under-15 Nicole Phillips (2.21.74) and Under-15 Christopher Coulson (2.27.08).

At the schools’ match at Hexham, Houghton’s Under-15 Phillipa Ellis, competing for the county team, won the 75m hurdles in an English Schools’ standard of 11.59.

In the Trail Outlaws Pieces of Eight Half Marathon trail race at Penshaw, won by Michael Littlewood of Elvet Striders (1.38.07), Sunderland Strollers placed Andy Forbes in fourth ((1.42.11), John Cook was fifth (1.43.37) and Chris Dwyer finished ninth (1.52.04).

Sunderland Harrier Robert Walker was sixth (1.47.12) and Washington Running Club had Derek Trueman 12th (1.54.29) and Peter Setterfield 16th (1.57.43).

The Outlaws ran a 10km race alongside the half marathon and the women’s race was won won by Simone Thompson in 60.36.

Sunderland Harriers filled the next two places with Linda Mudford second (61.53) and Vikki Cotton third (61.56).

The race winner was Tyne Bridge Harrier Paul Turnbull (45.53). Sunderland Harriers had Paul O’Brien in 14th (57.34) and Washington’s Nick Butchart was 17th (58.32).