Despite the windy conditions making the course difficult, it didn’t stop runners and spectators from coming out in their thousands for the Marathon of the North on Sunday.
This year’s event was the second year for the Marathon of the North, with the BQ Relay race added and the half marathon for the first time.
Former Olympian Steve Cram, who was again one of the event organisers, has said they won’t add any more races now, but they want to keep making the events bigger.
Cram said: “Every year more and more people seem to get interested in it and hopefully we’ll be back here with a bigger event.
“The weather could have been more helpful. It’s very, very windy, which is tough for the runners, tough for the spectators and for the volunteers as well.”
The weather wasn’t all bad. Just before the marathon runners approached the finish line the sun started to peak through the clouds.
Jake Harrison from Leicester won the marathon in what was the first marathon he had ever competed in.
“I was quite surprised to be honest and I was struggling near the end,” said Harrison.
The Leicester Tri runner said it was difficult to keep pace and towards the end he was struggling, but he believes that everyone was starting to struggle near the end.
He also said he had been watching the weather over the week and didn’t expect the conditions to be so windy.
Harrison said he had a lot more energy in the first half of the marathon, but the wind took a lot out of him. The second half of the race was more sheltered and but he admitted that runners had just as much wind on their back as in their face.
“It’s quite a tough course. I liked that you have some of the half marathon runners with you for the first half, so you can sort of stay with them so you’re not running, if you are in the lead, all the race on your own,” Harrison continued.
Jessica Riches, from Chester-le-Street, 27, won the women’s marathon, earning her personal best time of three hours 20. Last year she came in third place with a time of three hours 25.
The finish was a surprise to Riches who didn’t expect to come in first as her goal was to retain her third place finish.
Riches said: “Two weeks ago I did a race that was also very windy up at Druridge Bay, which was a marathon as well, and it had sort of swirling sand storms.
“So I was just running along thinking, well at least there isn’t any sand. It was good preparation really.”
Riches said that The Marathon of the North is her favorite marathon and that the organisation is spot on.
Alyson Dixon, from Sunderland, 34, won the 10k for the second year in a row and is really happy to have retained her title.
“I just enjoyed it out there. I just ran a marathon recently so I’m still recovering from that. And I just used it as a bit of a social run to try to help some of the lads that I know to fast times,” said Dixon.
She was also wearing a blue and yellow ribbon to pay tribute to Boston and she was wearing a shirt that said “Boston stands as one.”
“I had people that I know, good friends over there running, people spectating. I used to go to marathons to watch my dad at the age of eight, so it kind of hits home when an eight-year-old boy is killed having just been watching his dad finish a marathon,” said Dixon.
For Ean Parsons from the Sedgfield Harriers, this was his first marathon since the Boston Marathon. He said he finished the marathon, but he didn’t complete it. There was nothing after the race for the runners, after the tragedy.
“This felt to me like the second half of the Boston Marathon. It was just fantastic,” said Parsons.
He is also very happy that he received his Boston Qualifying time by six seconds, so he will be able to go back to Boston next year.
Dan Makaveli, a University of Sunderland graduate’s relay team came in fourth place. He ran the fourth leg of the race out of six in about 46 minutes, that was just under 11k.
“The first 7k was really good and I did a good personal best at the time and then we turned round and the wind got me in the face and it coincided with going up hill. So it got quite slow towards the end,” said Makaveli.
Mel Brewis, from Sunderland, 31 was the teammate who crossed the finish line for them and she ran in the London Marathon too.
She said there was more pressure in the Marathon of the North, because of pressure to do well for the team, and the London Marathon was just something she crossed off her list of events.
One of the relay teams wore Superman costumes because they were running for Grace House, a Children’s Hospice. It was children’s hospice week and super heroes, so they decided to dress up as Superman.
Ross Finch, from South Shields, 26 ran the 3k leg of the relay and said it was a tough one. His part was all up hill, there was steps and there was wind in his face as well.
Liam Prickett, from Hebburn, 25, said they might run the half marathon together next year.
A group of Newcastle University cheerleaders decided to run together with their cheer shirts and blue, red and white ribbons in their hair.
Kristy Blake, 19, said the run was easier than she thought it would be and she didn’t train much, just on the treadmill. Her and her fellow cheerleaders decided to run for a fitness goal, but thought that they would have time to train and they didn’t.
Despite the bad weather, Dixon admitted that she had expected the conditions to be windy.
Dixon added: “It was quite windy out there, but it’s Sunderland, we’re use to wind. We just get on with it.”
After the races finished, Cram was pleased with the event and believed it was great to see all the people who competed in different races in the city centre running in different directions – despite admitting that it was a bit of a challenge to organise.
“I think people are still getting use to the idea in the city that there’s an event you can be apart of. We hope to grow the event and make it more of an annual event,” Cram added.