Helen Waugh from Tyne Triathlon took the ladies race in very hot conditions in one of the most picturesque races on the North East scene which starts at Hexham before going through Corbridge and finishing at Ovingham.
At the 3 mile mark the runners had to negotiate a number of long, fairly steep climbs up to halfway and it was here that Harding started to pull away. He passed 5 miles in around 26.10 with Crawley hanging on but as the pair passed 8 mile, Harding's lead was not a convincing one. The flamboyant Morpeth Harrier, now based in Whitley Bay was aware of Crawley's fast finishing speed and had to use his strength and experience to forge away in the final 2 miles. His winning time of 52.24 was 33 seconds ahead of Crawley at the end.
Harding has decided against doing the Great North Run this year and used the race as a warm up to a mountain marathon in Switzerland that he is competing in next week.
It was also a close run affair in the veterans section as NSP's Guy Bracken, who recently gained silver at the European Masters 10,000m, finished strongly to win in 56.37. Bracken lay 3rd with less than a mile to go but a strong finish took him past Durham's Ian Crampton and Elswick's Lee Bennett, only 16 seconds separating the trio at the line.
Meanwhile in the ladies event, triathlon specialist Helen Waugh led from the start to win in a time of 64.14. Wallsend's Vicky Hindson put up a strong challenge in the second half of the race but could not quite close the gap to get close enough to challenge for the victory. Waugh finished 46 seconds ahead of Hindson who had the distinction of winning her first ever North East title after Waugh was not eligible as she was representing a triathlon club.
It was a good day for Elswick as they were victorious in both men's and women's team events.
Despite the scorching temperatures the race was a huge success. Well organised, well marshalled with a number of spectators following the race on their bikes lending support throughout the race. The water stations were well located and well needed and credit must go to Tynedale Harriers who yet again put on a great event.
Full results can be found by clicking here.
Pictures to follow
Well done to all those who took part.