A record number of runners descended on Kielder Water and Forest Park today for Britain’s most beautiful marathon and half marathon.
Karl Taylor, of Amble, was the inaugural winner of the Kielder Half Marathon, setting the record at 1 hour 14 minutes and 35 seconds, while Matthew Jones, of Middlesbrough, was crowned the new champion of the ActiveNorthumberland Kielder Marathon.
Northumberland County Council worker Karl, 24, said: “I thought that I would come quite high up but I didn’t expect to win the first half marathon. It’s also my first event at Kielder - it’s a beautiful race but it’s really hard.”
The new half marathon attracted nearly 700 runners, including BBC newsreader Sophie Raworth.
She said: “I have been to Kielder once, years and years ago, when I came to do a report about Kielder as the most tranquil part of the UK. I think we’re disturbing that peace a bit today! – there are an awful lot of people here sounding fantastic and it’s just spectacular.”
Around 850 runners made their way around northern Europe’s largest man-made lake, Kielder Water, in the sixth year of the marathon, which is held every year at Northumbrian Water’s Leaplish Waterside Park.
Matthew, 34, who crossed the finish line in 2:43:02, said: “I feel elated, and a bit tired. It was a bit of a battle at the front but it’s my first year and I loved it, I enjoyed every minute.”
Matthew, who is a doctor of cardiology in Middlesbrough, has taken the title off three-time marathon winner Ceri Rees, who gave North East runners a sporting chance this year when he decided not to take part.
Northumbria University lecturer Gemma Bradley, 36, of Gateshead, was the first female to cross the marathon finish line.
Gemma, who is a member of Saltwell Harriers running club and completed the race in 3; 21; 53, said: “It was gorgeous, really tough in parts but it’s such a stunning race. I just thought I’d come out for a lovely run, I didn’t expect to win.”
Both events were the show stoppers to a full weekend of activities which included the Kielder 10K, Kielder Run-Bike-Run, Junior Races and a series of walks.
The Junior Races took place while the marathon and half marathon were underway and saw more than 100 children take part in either the Osprey (880m race for children aged seven to nine) the Roman Mile (1.48km race for children aged 10
to 12) or the Centurion (2.5km race for children ages 13 to 15).
Tynedale Harrier Christopher Jackson, 15, of Allendale, was thrilled to have won the Centurion.
He said: “I’d hoped to win. It was good fun and I want to be back next year and I think I would like to do the Kielder
Kielder Marathon attracts runners and outdoor adventure enthusiasts from around the world to the dramatic setting and unique course.
Coun Val Tyler, Cabinet member for arts, leisure and culture at Northumberland County Council, said: “The addition of the half marathon to this year’s event shows the popularity of Kielder and Northumberland for outdoor activities.
“The county has a very strong network of running clubs and growing number of runners. It is also an excellent place for walking, and as the Tour of Britain has shown, more and more people are supporting and taking up cycling.”
Kielder marathon: 1 Matthew Jones, 34, from Middlesbrough, 2hr 43min 02sec; 2 Conrad Franks, 32, from Gateshead, 2hr 45min 51sec; 3 Mike Jefferies, 33, from Richmond.2hr 51min 11sec.
First female Gemma Bradley, 36, from Gateshead, 3hr 21min 53sec; 2 Lisa Bennett, 43, from Guisborough, 3hr 26min 29sec; 3 Jacqueline Keavney, 50, from Swaledale, 3hr 27min 42sec.
Kielder Half Marathon: 1 Karl Taylor, 24, from Amble, 1hr 14min 35sec; 2 Steven McMahon, 36, from Sunderland, 1hr 19min 18sec; 3 Ben Wickham, 36, from London, 1hr 22min 07sec.
First female Debra Crozier, 50, from Washington, 1hr 33min 14sec; 2 Elaine Bisson, 37, from Durham, 1hr 35min 13sec; 3 Susie Chan, 40, from London, 1hr 36min 12sec.
Kielder Junior Runs
Boys: 1Evan Holloway; 4min 21sec; 2 Noah Curran, 4min 26sec; 3 Seb Mason, 4min 27sec.
Girls: 1 Martha Tickner, 4min 52sec; 2 Georgia Winter, 5min 19sec; 3 Ruby Edwards, 5min 26sec.
The Roman Mile
Boys: 1 Gregor Collins, 6min 41sec; 2 Liam Brittle, 6min 49sec; 3 James Tilley, 7min 08sec.
Girls: 1 Anna Mason (third overall), 6min 57sec; 2 Ines Curran, 6min 58sec; 3 Erin Clarke, 7min.
Boys: 1 Christopher Jackson, 9min 02sec; 2 Cameron Grey, 9min 9sec; 3 Aidan Pinkney, 10min 02sec.
Girls: 1 Olivia Mason (third overall), 9min 22sec; 2 Eira Hegarty, 11min 15sec; 3 Rebecca Forster, 14min 02sec.