Old Monks Race, 6th January 2013

Runners from all over the North East swept into Hart Village on Sunday the 6th Jan 2013, the usual sleepy hollow was transformed into lycra city with all shapes and sizes in an array of vibrant colours buzzing up and down the main street.
The warming up routines were needed as 186 athletes were ready to take part in the popular Old Monks multi terrain race organised by our club. The 5.5 mile route as most will know offers a wide variety of conditions, fast tarmac, steep downhill and uphill sections, ankle deep mud, farm tracks and the firm surface of the Hart to Haswell disused railway line. The ankle deep mud was at its worst in Monk Heselden Dene, testing to say the least.
The club was well represented with 29 members running and probably just as many out on the course marshalling and co-ordinating in the village hall. The well liked and respected Alf Walsh, Burn Road’s President made sure all went according to plan, even on his 94th Birthday his stopwatch was once again in action. He received a massive applause and a bottle of bubbly at the presentation before handing out all the prizes. Club Chairman Dave Edwards must be applauded for his vocal skills getting his tongue around some very unpronounceable names on the prize list. Do not believe him when he tells you “unaccustomed as I am to public speaking”!!!
The whole event went smoothly thanks to some very dedicated members who gave up their valuable free time not just on the day but weeks beforehand making sure that the race could go ahead. There were some quality athletes featuring at the front end setting some cracking times. Richard Morrell of Morpeth Harriers (30.46) was victorious after an epic battle over the first half with James Askew of Durham City Harriers (31.23), Richard’s power and long leg stride proved too strong for James who lost ground over the last two miles. Third place went to Sunderland Harrier Craig Isherwood in 32.02.
The ladies race saw Carolyn Ollis of Middlesbrough and Cleveland Harriers (39.38) lead out and maintain her position, second and third places were fought over keenly by rivals Sue Phillips of Darlington Harriers (40.03) and our very own Sarah Black (40.10) who was making ground but just ran out of runway on this occasion. Sarah picked up a prize for third lady and also a prize for first veteran lady of a certain age that most do not like being reminded of! The youthful looking Sarah led the Burn Road ladies home with Lesley Strickland and Sharon Stephenson fighting it out further down the field. Lesley who is in excellent form passed her rival and pushed hard to create an unassailable gap, even managing a sprint finish. Sharon in her first race back for many years was delighted to be competing again, the former Burn Road star is hoping this race will kick start her climb up the rankings. This will be interesting to watch as Paul, Sharon’s husband also a former top runner made his comeback last week at Captain Cooks fell race. The Stephensons who have both worked really hard to get back in shape should be featuring a lot this year.
Man of the moment though was Paul Wilson who is rarely out of the top ten these days. He had an excellent run for 6th place (33.17), Paul was followed by Ben Ward in 15th place (36.08). Ben has gone from strength to strength over the last six months and will no doubt get quicker throughout this year. Two big club rivals were battling it out for the next places, Davey Lake 23rd (36.53) and Darren Armstrong 31st (37.48) were inseparable over the first few miles but Davey proved the stronger athlete. Davey had suffered defeat from Darren in the last two outings so was obviously out for revenge. It looked like a 50 mile training week from Davey over the festivities gave him the edge, without a doubt Darren will want to return the favour soon. John Davis 34th (38.15) had Darren in view and will get closer very soon as his improvement gathers momentum, he ran extremely well considering an ankle injury had curtailed his training. Watch this space when he is fully fit.
An improved performance from Jack Hutton showed that his training is paying off coming home strong for 45th (39.32). As most newcomers are learning to quote Mr Ludgate “you get nothing for nothing in this game” so keep up the training and you will reap the benefits!” Sarah (as mentioned above) was 55th (40.10) followed closely by a very pleased John Mansfield 56th (40.16) who kept the pressure on throughout the race and kept Karl Edwards 61st (40.47) at bay.
John Howey 64th (41.04) who cycled up to the village for a warm up had a good run considering he has not raced for a while, he had Karl worried over the last mile. The next two runners came in close Kevin Weatherill 103rd (45.36) and Nigel Shaw 105th (45.54) followed by Lesley 107th (46.12) who, having pulled well away from Sharon went past Graeme Surtees like an express train just before the finish line. Graeme must have felt the turbulence as Lesley went past and wondered where the tornado had come from, he was focused on his own race pace and did not have time to respond to Lesley’s pace, he finished 108th (46.13).
The comeback kid Sharon 113th (46.53) was quite nervous in her first race for some years but soon settled down into a rhythm, just wait until her racing legs are up to speed. The next three runners finished within 11 seconds of each other, Matty Dawkins 117th (47.16) fresh from Cooks race and into his second comeback race led them in, with Alice Simpson hot on his heels for 118th (47.17). Alice showed her potential in the first cross country of the year and seems to make it look easy. Lakeland adventurer Nichola Swinbourne 120th (47.26) also made it look easy taking these small hills in her stride, even having time to pose for the camera over Hart Moor. 

There have been numerous comebacks recently due to injury, layoffs and illness, a couple that followed here have done well to get on the start line. Richard Robson who always gives it his best shot even when not fully fit did well to finish 121st (47.27), in front of wavy haired Dave Clouston 131st (48.32). Dave is a reminder to us all that it is possible to overcome adversity, after a nasty motorcycle accident a few years ago he has fought hard to run again. Just don’t tell him the “just for men” hair product isn’t working (check out photos on website by Alan Musgrove)!!!! Mal Pugh 133rd (49.09) has set up the dual again between himself and Dave - last year saw them battle it out on a few occasions, let’s hope we see more of it. Christopher Sharp 142nd (50.05) enjoyed this run and probably spotted a few birds on the way around (feathered variety), being a keen bird watcher.
The next runner has really got the running and fitness bug. Jan Naisbitt 158th (52.45) has ran most races lately and has shown a competitive streak that will push her up the points table in the cross country races. Chasing Jan was Cary Surtees 159th (53.05) who has also proved competitive, these two ladies will no doubt be battling it out again soon and both improving even more along the way. Just behind Greg Swinbourne 160th (53.12) was keeping his pace going and testing his fitness, hoping his previous calf injury has healed. He needs to be right if he is going to keep up with his wife on the Lakeland challenge races this year. Julie McGrath 171st (56.05) and Stephen Armstrong 172nd (56.10) kept each other company most of the way while a little way back Lisa Dawkins 173rd (56.55) was in unfamiliar territory. Lisa must have had an off day but will soon be back to her normal gritty self.
A runner who only started out last year on a Wednesday evening and then progressed to the odd club session did very well today. Sam Dixon 177th (59.59) who plucked up the courage to race without her training partner has now got this race under her belt. Experiencing the friendly atmosphere of competition Sam now knows it isn’t such a big deal, although many will tell her pre-race nerves are always there.
All that remains to be said is that this year’s race was a great success, it looks like no residents of Hart were upset. The girls supplying refreshments did a great job, free tea and cakes went down a treat raking in £120 in donations that went to Hartlepool Hospice. Dave (Chairman) copes well under pressure, as do all the committee, the runners liked the course, Alf is 94 not out. Peter, Christine and David Johnson compiled all the results in record time, with Aiden Lamb supplying them every 5 mins or so.
It was great to see Stuart Pailor, Alan Musgrove, George Newbury, Dot Bird and Margaret Minister again all doing their bit. Stuart Whitaker did another splendid sweeping job. Thanks to all who helped and organised the event that haven’t been mentioned (ok Mick i know you were there), let’s hope the next one goes as well. One more thing Roy Kelly, Ian Monaghan and Dominic Shaw from the Hartlepool Mail have gone the extra mile with their coverage so a big thanks go to them. This sort of publicity can only boost the club membership.

Link to Official Results

Link to photos courtesy of Alan Musgrove

Link to photos courtesy of Peter Johnson

Link to photos courtesy of Hartlepool Mail
 
 

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Race Results

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