More than 530 athletes toed the line and observed the traditional 1 minutes silence in one of the most popular and traditional races on the circuit. Little did they know that 15 minutes later they would be back on the start line to try again!
In the confusion that ensued the host club's Laura Jardine took a bad tumble and chipped her tooth. North East Runner would like to pass on our best wishes. Some of the field had been directed the correct way and the leaders had since turned back and joined the correct course but at this point there were 3 separate races going on and officials had no choice but to stop the race, allow the runners to recover and get their thoughts together before starting again. Most runners had completed around 0.75 mile before things were brought to order.
It must be stressed that what happened was not the direct fault of Heaton Harriers. It was simply one of those unfortunate things and although a few athletes were visibly angry at the time, they soon settled down and once the race was restarted, everything went to plan.
Hudspith, now 42 but moving almost as well as he did when he was in his 20s, took the lead shortly after the start and was never headed on the 2 lap course. New Marke's Richard Morrell put up a brave fight but Hudspith was always in control and although well outside the course record of 30.04, he was happy with his efforts to win 31.25. Morrell was also well clear in 2nd in 32.03 ahead of Sunderland's Kevin Calvert in 32.44. It was great to see one of our most promising athletes in 4th place as 18 year old Lewis Hogg dipped under 33 mins with 32.59.
The team title went to the Tyne Bridge team of Sparrow Morley in 7th, Simon Kristiansen in 9th, Robert Clark in 12th and Kevin Jeffress in 15th, who retained the Watson Memorial Challenge Trophy (which was first presented in 1920!) with a 3 point victory over Gateshead.
Dixon meanwhile, was chasing the course record of friend and former clubmate Claire Simpson of 36.25. Having already ran 33.32 this year few would have bet against her. Making her debut for her new club Sunderland Strollers, her time of 34.27 was a new record and placed her 11th overall. Second place went to the host club's Lorna Young who had a good battle with Birtley's Tracy Millmore before forging away in the final 2 miles. Their times were 37.03 and 38.50 respectively.
The ladies team event went to North Shields Poly, who's team of Christine Burns, Suzanne Thew and Michelle Thompson comfortably won from Birtley AC.
It was nice to see that the controversy at the start did not stop the race from being ran in a good spirit and although some runners were still a bit frustrated at the end of the race, there didn't seem to be much bad feeling and everyone at North East Runner who were observing puts it down to 'one of those things'.
A special mention must go to Mark Likeman and his Race Timings Systems team. The results were processed very quickly and accurately and it was very rewarding to know your finishing time and position so quickly after the finish.
Another friendly and successful event from Heaton Harriers. As ever, the race was ran in a good spirit and North East Runner would like to thank all officials, judges, supporters and tea makers for their contribution in a quality morning of racing.
For full results click here.
To see some pictures from the day visit our Galleries page by clicking here.