SUNDERLAND Harriers dominated the windswept Sunderland Festival of Running held from the Stadium of Light yesterday.
The Wearsiders had Weynay Ghebresilasie as winner of the 10k and Mark Hood dominated the half marathon.
The near 4,000 runners who contested the three events, were greeted by gale force winds and cold conditions for their early-morning start around the streets of Sunderland.
The weather was in a complete contrast to last year’s event when the red hot temperatures proved a problem.
Ghebresilasie would have wished for temperatures like those of 2012, as the Eritrean lined up for the 10k wearing a woolly hat and gloves.
Faced with a biting-cold wind, the 19-year-old knew that any chance of a fast time was out of the question.
The 10k had the biggest field of the day with just nearly 2,000 competitors.
And it was young Sunderland Harrier Joel Jones who had his moment of glory, leading the field to Wearmouth Bridge before Ghebresilasie took command.
After a tour of Mowbray Park and a visit to Sunniside, the African, making his debut over the distance, was back on the bridge and heading onto the banks of the Wear.
He passed 5k at Roker Marina in a swift 15.02 before hitting the teeth of the wind as he turned for home through Roker Park and down Dame Dorthy Street.
At the finish, outside the famous stadium, Ghebresilasie showed how much the wind had taken out of him, finishing in 32.51, with his clubmate, the inform Nathan Reed, taking a comfortable second in 34.20. Jones had slipped back to finish a creditable15th in 36.38. Ian Dixon was18th (37.22).
Ghebresilasie said: “It was not good for running fast. It was just too windy and cold.
“But it was still nice to win here in Sunderland in front of the crowd at the Stadium of Light. I got a lot of support around the course.’’
Sunderland Stroller Alyson Dixon, having her first race back following her superb run in the Brighton Marathon two weeks ago, finished 16th overall in 36.58 to win the women’s race.
She said: “I was just out for a steady run after the marathon. I was running with one of the men from my club to ensure he did not go off too fast.’’
In second place was Jarrow and Hebburn over-45 veteran Elaine Leslie in 39.29. Stroller veteran Joy Champion was seventh (44.32) and Clare Baharie was 24th (47.41), Sunderland Harrier Amy Coulson finished ninth (45.35) and Merial Smithson was 27th (47.55).
The Strollers men had Steven McMahon 17th (37.05), Tim Allsop V40 24th (38.41), Andy Powell 33rd (39.56) and Paul Roper V50 35th (40.01).
Results: 1 Weynay Ghebresilasie (Sun Har) 32.51, 2 Nathan Reed (Sun Har) 34.20, 3 Paul Bentley (North York Moors) 34.34, 4 Chris Smith (Wallsend) 34.50, 5 John Clifford V40 (Unatt) 35.03, 6 Finn Brodie (Gos) 35.31, 7 John Morley (Tyne Bridge) 35.32, 8 Keith Smith V50 (Tyne Bridge) 35.53, 9 Shaun Brown (Tyne Bridge) 36.02, 10 Kevin Connolly (Gates) 36.17.