Always a sell-out, largely due to its reputation as one of the fastest courses in the North East, the event was run for the 16th time this year after an enforced two year Covid-enforced hiatus.
Starting from the staithes at the Port of Blyth, the route takes runners out past Ridley Park and south onto the promenade before following the path through the dunes, turning round at Seaton Sluice and retracing its steps.
The existing course record of 30 minutes 33 seconds was set just over ten years ago by a Morpeth Harrier, Peter Newton, with Sunderland Stroller Alison Dixon setting a new women’s record of 33:27 in 2019.
At the front of this year’s race, a leading group of four athletes, headed by Tyne Bridge Harrier Michael Hedley, quickly established itself, with Sunderland Harrier Liam Taylor, Alnwick’s Dave Richardson and Morpeth’s Tom Innes in close attendance.
With Hedley able to up the pace slightly on the return, despite a difficult cross wind to contend with, he built a comfortable lead and won the race in a time of 32:30 with Taylor second in 32:47 and Richardson third (33:05).
Morpeth’s Innes was squeezed out of the top three and placed fourth in 33:37, but with Taylor and Richardson recorded as Over 35s, he was later awarded second Senior Male, although later confessing to be a little disappointed in his run, particularly after some good performances in recent relays.
The women’s race was won by experienced Jarrow and Hebburn athlete Alex Sneddon, in 22nd place overall, who finished in 36:36, with the early leader Elswick’s talented youngster Imogen Bungay second in 37:55 and her club colleague Robyn Naylor third (41:07).
Perhaps Morpeth’s best run of the day came from seasoned veteran Lee Bennett, now getting back to his racing best, who was 15th overall and 1st O/50 in 35:41. There was also another age category prize for the club, with Rob Hancox second O/50 in 38:44.
The fast course did provide three Morpeth personal bests, however, with Shaun Land 32nd in 37:42, Tayla Murdy 105th and fifth Senior Female, and Robyn Ferguson taking over three minutes off her previous best time for the distance when coming home 227th in 49:49.
Other Morpeth finishers included: Graeme Thorpe, 40th and sixth O/45 in 38:15; Eric Adams, 50th in 39:07; Ed Hillier, 59th in 39:37; Andy Leeson, 75th in 40:38; Laura Mclean, 218th and eighth O/35 in 49:12 and last but not least, the redoubtable Norman Clark, fifth Over 70 in 56:25.
*Crossing the finishing line in third place, GB triathlete Daniel Dixon made the podium in his first outing over the Olympic distance as a senior in the Europe Triathlon Cup in Quarteira, Portugal last weekend.
The race was won by Japan’s Takumi Hojo in 1:46:21 with Dixon outsprinted in the run-in, missing second by a mere three seconds for a final time of 1:46:33, a performance which continues to show his tremendous potential.