Sunderland Harriers chase best marathon finishes

Steven Duffy.
Steven Duffy.
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A group of Sunderland Harriers are heading to Manchester at the weekend for the Manchester Marathon.

They all have their own personal goals to chase in what is termed by the organisers as the UK’s favourite marathon.

At the 2017 event, 86 per cent of the top 50 recorded a personal or season’s best and 50 per cent of the top 250 got a PB on the super fast course.

Last year’s race was won by Sunderland man Patrick Martin in 2.22.37, who now lives in Manchester and runs for Stockport Harriers. But the former Sunderland Harrier has been forced out by a long term injury problem.

In Martin’s absence, Steven Duffy is expected to lead the Wearsiders home but his build up to the event has not gone according to plan. He will be travelling down on Saturday along with clubmates Paul Collins, Steven Gordon, Darren Dodd and Richard Borrowdale.

Duffy said: “I haven’t had as many races as I planned under my belt.

“In my build up for the marathon I expected to compete in the Dalton Park 10k, the Haweswater Half Marathon and the East Hull 20, but they were all cancelled because of snow. I ran the Blackpool Half Marathon but was suffering with the flu.

“Luckily I’ve ran some quick 10 and 13 mile tempo runs by myself and ran the full marathon distance twice at 7.15 mile pace, using these sessions to give me a rough idea of fitness.

“I’m planning on going all out at Manchester – running at 6.18 pace would bring me a time of 2.45.11, but I’m not expecting to run that. My current PB was at Edinburgh way back in 2014 (2.51.11).

“But considering this is my fourth marathon I’m feeling good. Other than the touch of flu I’ve had, I’ve been quite fortunate and not suffered any injury through marathon training.

“Paul Collins is also attempting to run about 2.52. Initially he was only wanting to run the qualifying time for London next year. Steven Gordon is looking to run around the 2.50-3.00 mark but he hasn’t ran much this week through a back injury.”

Collins, 53, and Gordon, an Over-45 with a best for the distance of 2.54.54, have also been putting the training in and they even completed an early morning marathon before starting work.

Collins a former talented young athlete said: “I have never felt so motivated, even more so than when I was a youngster. I’m really looking forward to Manchester.”

Richard Borrowdale has a best of 3.18.20, Over-45 Darren Dodd’s quickest time is 3.35.11 and Over-45 Barry Marlee, who also travels, has completed his fastest marathon in 3.35.21.There are also two Sunderland Harriers’ women in Margaret Thompson and Louise Glover, who will also be treading the streets of Manchester.

Meanwhile, Duncan and Tina Mitchell are running the Rotterdam Marathon, also on Sunday, to show the marathon season is now in full swing.

l Oliver James, based in the USA at McNeese State University, got his track season off its mark with fifth place in the 1500m (3.52.12) at the Gainesville Florida Relays.

Sunderland Harriers top woman endurance athlete Alice Smith opened her 2018 winning account with victory in the New Marske Mermaid 10k on Good Friday. She finished first woman in 24th position overall (37.17). Last year she won eight events.

l There are no entries on the day in the Port of Blyth 10k on Sunday as the entry limit has been reached,

There are only 70 places left for the Hartlepool Marina 5 Mile Road Race on Sunday, April 15 (10.00am) which also includes the North East Masters’ 5miles Championship.

This is a fast and flat chip-timed 5 mile road race. Starting and finishing at The Wingfield Castle Ship, The Historic Quay, Maritime Avenue, Hartlepool. (The National Museum of the Royal Navy). All finishers receive a memento.