Memorial Road Race once again hosted the North Eastern Counties 10k Championship within their event and it was gold medal runs for Houghton’s Chris Coulson and Elswick’s Sophie Pikett. Both athletes were making their debut over the Town Moor course with the race panning out differently for the duo.
At the half-way stage in the men’s race Morpeth’s Alex Brown (15:19) had opened up a six-seconds lead over last year’s champion Adrian Bailes who was closely followed by Coulson (15:26) with Sunderland’s Liam Taylor in fourth position a further four seconds back. As the second circuit unfolded Bailes managed to reel in the leader as did Coulson and eventually Taylor. However, it wasn’t to be a repeat performance for Bailes as Coulson proved to be the stronger in the closing stages to come home in a new pb of 31:04 nine seconds clear of the defending champion with Taylor consolidating third place (31:25) one place ahead of Brown.
While the lead changed hands in the men’s race that certainly wasn’t the case in the women’s Championship. Facing a near-500 strong field Elswick’s Pikett, who had by-passed lining up in the UK Cross Challenge in Cardiff the previous day, was quickly to the fore and at the 5k point reached in 17:16 had a 24-seconds advantage over former Elswick and Tyne Bridge athlete Amy Fuller with North Shields Poly’s Molly Pace and Charnwood visitor Georgina Weston over half a-minute further adric. On the second circuit as the leaders began to lap the back-markers Fuller was seen to drop out as Pikett’s relentless charge for home took her further ahead of her rivals. At the line PickeJ finished in 35th place overall in 34:58 with Pace taking second place (36:32) with Weston crossing the line in third spot in 36:59. Weston however, was illegible for county honours with the third place award going to Elswick’s Justan Heslop who finished just seven seconds adrift of the Charnwood athlete.
**THE North Eastern CounBes AA, together with the North East Masters AA who also incorporated their Championships within the Memorlal race, once again thank Heaton Harriers for hosing a well organised event and look forward to linking up with the Newcastle club in the future. **
ON another note, while not championship events, four new course records were set in the junior age group contests. In the under-11s brother and sister Noah and Ada Penfold (North Shields Poly) set new figures in the boys and girls 1k race respecBvely, Noah shaving five seconds off the old figures of 3:22 set by Birtley’s Chris Perkins in 2014 while Ada knocked seven seconds off Alnwick’s Lauren Brown’s 2015 Bme of 3:37. In the under-13 girls 3k contest Birtley’s Poppie Phillipson’s Bme of 10:40 was 17 seconds quicker than the old figures set by Chester-le-Street’s Emily Chong in 2016. The final record to fall came in the under-15 boys 3k contest which saw Gateshead’s Alfie Pearson come home in 9:23 13 seconds inside the old figures set by Morpeth’s Joe Dixon in 2019.