Weyney just edged out in Sunderland half marathon

Weynet Ghebresilasie (right) in action yesterday
Weynet Ghebresilasie (right) in action yesterday
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FORMER Sunderland Harrier Weynay Ghebresilasie’s return visit to Sunderland nearly came up trumps in the half marathon – despite missing the start after being left behind still in his tracksuit.

The Eritrean had mislaid his number and had spent the precious few minutes before the start searching for it.

It was not until the city centre, around Mowbray Park, that the former Sunderland Harrier had the front runners just ahead of him.

When he eventually got going he was among the masses and 20 seconds behind the leaders.

It was not until the city centre, around Mowbray Park, that the former Sunderland Harrier had the front runners just ahead of him.

They were Elswick Harrier Tadele Mulugeta and Sunderland Harrier Kevin Jeffress, who were set to enjoy each other’s company, along with Ghebresilasie, until the 10k marker at Grangetown.

This is where Jeffress, having a great run, got dropped and the Ethiopian and Eritrean were set for a battle royal for the rest of the race.

They were running together until they reached the back of the Sheepfolds and a short hill before Mulugeta, the partner of Justina Heslop, unleashed his sprint to the tape with 300 metres to go.

Ghebresilasie, who had made the long journey from Birmingham to the race by bus, had no answer, with Mulugeta surging to the tape in 71.24, over six minutes outside his best

This was Ghebresilasie’s half marathon debut and he finished with his number upside down, stopping the clock on 71.36. Although this perforamce was not a true indication of what the Olympic steeplechaser is capable of.

The former Birchfield Harrier said: “The race was all right. I have only been training for two weeks. This is my first time over this distance. But it was hard with the cold and the wind.”

Behind Ghebresilasie came an isolated Jeffress in third (72.01), clubmate Andy Powell, slicing over three minutes off his previous fastest, was fourth (74.09), Steve Potts was fifth (74.35) and Michael Laws seventh (77.22). Over-40 veteran Brian Bewick finished 22nd (82.18) and Alan Knebel was 29th (83.54). Sunderland unattached runner Paul Collins was first over-50 in 23rd (82.22).

Sunderland Strollers saw Declan Munnelly in 30th (84.16), Jamie Collin finished 51st (87.19) and Paul Roper 58th (88.13).

Seaham’s 41-year-old Louise Rodgers was astonished to find herself the winner of the women’s race in (88.42), finishing 63rd overall.

She said, as she stood shivering, taking a well deserved hot drink: “I can’t believe it. I’m over the moon. It was so cold out there and the wind was horrible. This is my best ever performance.”

Sunderland Stroller Ashleigh Ewen was second woman with an outstanding race, finishing in 89.30. Morpeth’s Catriona MacDonald was third (91.26).