Sunderland Harrier Liam Taylor claimed his second Penshaw Hill Race title with a thrilling victory last night.
It was eight years ago that he won his last race and with two runners-up positions over the last two years, he was determined to win this time
The 32-year-old led from the off and headed the field on the opening lap to claim the prime prize for the runner to reach the famous monument first.
But in his slipstream was last year’s winner, Blyth’s Kurt Heron and clubmate Ian Dixon, when they entered the wooded section of the course for the first time.
It was still a close call as they went into the second lap, but Dixon, an Over-40 veteran, was in full flow as he moved into second place in pursuit of Taylor.
But it was Taylor, who proved the stronger and was first to reach the final climb to the monument, to extend his lead up the gruelling assent to win by 18 seconds.
He said: “It was a hard race, at one stage I thought Ian was going to catch me but I got going again, I was determined to win it.”
He clocked 16.46 with an exhausted Dixon collapsing to the ground at the finish.
Heron, just back from injury, was a very tired third in 17.12.
Now Taylor faces a bigger challenge in Sunday’s Blaydon race where a top class field of elite athletes are invited.
Jarrow and Hebburn’s Jack Brown was fourth (17.21), Scott Eilis (NSP), a former winner, finished fifth (17.43), then came three Sunderland Harriers in Callun Thom (17.50), Chris Jackson (17,54) and Aidan Crowe (18.27).
Sunderland Harriers also had Graeme Pullan as first Over-40 in 10th (19.06) and Paul Redman first Over-50 (20.16).
The women’s race was won by Gateshead’s Kim Simpson (21.26) after overhauling Sunderland Harrier Nikki Woodward (22.47), who also won the prime award. Blaydon Harrier Charlotte Eddy was third (23.24).
Sunderland Harrier Colleen Compson had a good run to finish first veteran (23.29).