Challenging route scores thumbs up
THE steep inclines of the Tyne Valley provided an uphill test for the region's runners.
The Tynedale Half Marathon, which started and ended at Hexham's Tyne Green, returned for a second year, with the hilly course around the villages of Warden, Fourstones and Newbrough asking participants in dig deep to complete the tough event.
Close to 200 people signed up for the challenging Run Nation event, which was won by Ashington Hirst Running Club's Chris Snowball in a time of one hour and 24.03 minutes (1:24.03).
Close behind was Gateshead Harrier David Wakefield (1:24.25), with Colin Archer (1:25.29), of Morpeth Harriers, third.
Snowball said: "In terms of hills, that was probably the hardest half marathon I have done.
"I am surprised to have won as I didn't expect to, and it was a case of holding on towards the end so I'm really happy.
"I will definitely be looking to do it next year, and it was a tough, challenging run which I enjoyed."
There was local success in the women's race as Tynedale Harriers' star lady Kirstie Anderson put in another great performance to take first.
No stranger to victories in races across the North-East, she was fastest female with an impressive time of 1:33.51.
Jenny Graham (1:37.44) was second, with Jog on the Tyne duo Amanda Odd (1:39.12) and Jennifer Lapping (1:43.40) not far behind.
The half marathon came just weeks after Amanda, of Juniper, and Jennifer, of Hindley, competed in the London Marathon, and they were impressed with the course on their doorsteps.
Jennifer said: "I would like to do it again because it's nice to support local events as a local running club. It's nice to be able to be out in the country rather than in towns, so it was a great route.
"It was a really good, but tough course, but I quite enjoy those up and how hills."
Amanda said: "It was a tough, hilly course but we are used to the hills around here!"
There was a lot of runners from local clubs supporting the event with Tynedale Harriers Ivan Newton (1:34.58) and Gavin Spickett (2:15.50) joining Kirstie, and Philip Johnston (1:51.01) representing Allen Valley Striders.
Roland Brown (1:36.00) and Nick Winslow (1:49.05) wore the Ponteland Runners vest, while Stocksfield Striders Adam Hucklesby (1:36.35), Marc Lintern (1:43.21), Andrew Russell (1:57.36) and David Sanders (1:59.29) put in good runs.
Sanders said: "A few Striders did it and it was a really nice, scenic route with not a lot of traffic, even it if was a really tough one.
"We tend run quite a lot of the Run Nation events and this is definitely one of the toughest, but I'll definitely do it again."
Run Nation director Richard Hunter was pleased with the positive feedback on the day, the Tynedale event complementing popular half marathons in Rothbury, Kirkley Hall and Bamburgh Castle.
He said: "I think when you enter a race in Hexham, it's not going to flat unless you do a two miles out and back from Tyne Green.
"We had to use local villages like Newbrough and Fourstones to make the route the full distance, and we like to think we can make it challenging."