MORPETH Harrier Ian Harding took the Northumberland Coastal Run title on Sunday for the first time and declared: “I’m ecstatic. It is a race I have always wanted to win.”
His victory marked a good day for the club, as fellow Morpeth Harrier Jane Hodgson née Mooney won the women’s race, while the club also took both the male and female team trophies.
Harding, from Amble, snatched the crown away from last year’s winner James Buis, of Heaton Harriers, who had to settle for a second-place finish this time round.
The 29-year-old completed the annual Beadnell to Alnmouth run – organised by the Alnwick Harriers and stretching a distance of around 14 miles – in 1:16:27, topping a field of more than 800 runners on the day.
“I am very pleased to win the race,” he said, after adding the Coastal Run title to his growing list of victories, which this year include the Les Allcorn 10k and the Cragside 10k.
“The last time I ran in the Coastal Run was in 2002 and I came 10th that day, so to win is great. It is another one ticked off.”
Harding battled it out at the front of the pack, alongside Buis and eventual third-placed finisher and 2005 winner Darren Purvis of Birtley AC, and he pulled away in the lead with about a mile to go and the finishing line in sight.
Harding admitted he would have pushed earlier but was uncertain about the route, having not run it for nearly a decade.
He was also competing in the run due to the sudden injury of a club colleague whose place he was able to fill.
Commenting on the run itself, Harding said: “The race was good. I felt comfortable all the way and I was really comfortable with the pace. I could have pushed on if I wanted to but I didn’t know the way so I stuck with the front runners. But when we got to the beach and I knew 100 per cent where I was going, I pushed on and I kicked for home.”
It was a fine win for Ian, particularly considering he hasn’t really pushed himself over that kind of distance this season.
“I have mainly been running five and 10ks,” he said. “Even in training, probably the furthest I was going was 10 miles, but not very often. The Sunday prior to the race I had done a 14-mile training run to get endurance into me.”
His victory was followed by Hodgson scooping the women’s crown, crossing the line in 1:29:56.
The 30-year-old said: “It is brilliant to win. It is longer than I normally run, as I normally run 10ks, but I have been doing triathlons, including a half Ironman triathlon in June which included a 13-mile run, so I think that has given me the strength to do the longer runs.”
Hodgson, from Low Fell, finished ahead of second-placed female and 2009 winner Deborah Appleton, from Havering Mayesbrook AC, and third-placed Amy Green from Keighley and Craven AC.
Reflecting on the race, Hodgson, who ran the race last year with her brother, said: “I gradually passed people and I was leading (the women’s race) from about Craster. It is a tough course. Scenic, but tough, and I am really pleased to win.”
But the glory didn’t stop there for Morpeth.
Harding was followed by club mates Phil Walker in sixth place, who was second male Over 40 in a time of 1:22:43, George Hall, eighth overall and first Over 50 in 1:26:02, and Paul Waterston, ninth overall and first Over 45 in 1:26:09, helping Morpeth to win the men’s team prize convincingly.
And with Hodgson winning the female race and finishing 21st overall, and with a good show from the club’s women, Morpeth picked up the female team prize.
Clare Cunningham came 101st in 1:41:29, Marie Drozdowicz was 141st and also first Over 50 in 1:44:39, Shuna Rank was 179th in 1:47:18 and Jane Briggs finished 191st in 1:48:19.
Other Morpeth competitors included David Steel, 22nd, in 1:30:01, Rob Hancox, 130th in 1:43:32; Richard Kirby, 134th in 1:44:01; Jim Manchester, 156th in 1:45:54; Claire Bruce, 258th in 1:52:18; Tricia McDougal, 554th in 2:10:07.
The race saw runners line up on the beach at Beadnell before following a route of their own choosing over beach, cliff path and road past Dunstanburgh Castle and through Craster and Howick before finishing on the beach at Alnmouth.
On a gloomy morning most competitors were able to reach the finishing point at Alnmouth before the rains came down.
Top 10: 1 Ian Harding 1:16:27; 2 James Buis 1:17:10; 3 Darren Purvis 1:19:23; 4 Conrad Franks 1:21:02; 5 Philip Sanderson 1:22:16; 6 Phil Walker 1:23:43; 7 Richard Parker 1:24:58; 8 George Hall 1:26:02; 9 Paul Waterston 1:26:09; 10 Mark Hall 1:26:20.
Top 10 females: 1 Jane Mooney 1:29:56; 2 Deborah Appleton 1:31:43; 3 Amy Green 1:32:44; 4 Kim Simpson 1:36:52; 5 Sarah Lemon 1:37:00; 6 Nik Sutton-Haigh 1:37:00; 7 Karen Bridge 1:37:33; 8 Joanne Lee 1:37:57; 9 Jo Gascoigne-Owens 1:40:24; 10 Clare Cunningham 1:41:29.
Visit www.alnwickharriers.co.uk for full race results.