ONCE again entries for the North Eastern Counties 10,000 metres resulted in having two races which took place prior to the opening fixture of the NEGP at Monkton Stadium.
And, in the seeded opening event, it was Greg Jayasuriya (Middlesbrough and Cleveland), the NE XC champion, who came out on top after losing out last year to Morpeth's Mark Long.
It was a fascinating contest as the 13-strong field started off at a sedate pace before the Teessider, Gateshead's Conrad Franks, Thomas Straughan (Morpeth) and Blackhill's Jordan Bell took turns at the front before hitting the mid-way point in 16min 05secs.
Going into the second half of the contest the momentum increased as Franks - winner in 2013, in 32:59.4 - was the first to drift away. It was then the turn of Straughan to feel the heat as Jayasuriya and Bell took it in turn at the head of affairs.
The duo were locked together for the next 10 laps or so with neither giving way despite both athletes trying their best to get the better of their rival.
With two laps to go it was anyone's race until Bell, who finished in ninth pace last year, made a brave bid for victory with around 700 metres to go. A gap quickly opened up and by the bell he had a 15-metres lead which he held going down the back straight for the final time.
The advantage looked to be secured until Jayasuriya, who lifted the title in 2017, dug deep into his experience to haul in his opponent in the home straight and go on and win in 31:47.18, exactly two seconds clear of Bell whose 31:49.18 smashed his pb by over half-a-minute.
Straughan consolidated third place finishing in 32:13.39 in what was his first track outing over the distance since 2016.
After receiving his second 10,000m gold medal, Jayasuriya found the strength to say: "I didn't think I was going to catch Jordan after he opened up a big lead with less than a lap to go".
"It was a great race and I'm really pleased to have won again and add the track title to the cross-country gold medal I won in December. I've entered the 1,500m and 5,000m at the championships next month and hopefully I'll do well there.''
Meanwhile, six women took to the start line for the second race which had 13 starters and it was Elswick's Catherine Lowes (nee Lee) who settled into a good rhythm from the off. Jarrow duo, evergreen Heather Robinson and NEHL administrator Vicki Thompson, were next in line as the field quickly spread out.
It didn't show that Lowes had only two competitive parkruns to her name this year as she produced a 10,000m pb performance of over two minutes to cross the line in 42:04.67.
Robinson, third last year and winner in 2015 and 2014, followed Lowes home in silver medal position in 43:50.92 while an unbelievable Thompson claimed bronze medal in a time of 47:20.45.
Special thanks go to the North East Grand Prix for once again allowing the Championships to go ahead within their fixture while a special pat on the back goes to the medalists and also to the Derwent Valley Trail Runners, Elswick and Jarrow & Hebburn clubs who supported the championships in a big way.
|2||Jordan Bell||Blackhill Bounders||31:49.18|
|3||Thomas Straughan||Morpeth Harriers||32:13.39|
|4||Conrad Franks||Gateshead Harriers||32:52.88|
|5||Michael Joyeux||Quakers Runnng Club||33:01.46|
|6||Lee James Dover||Houghton Harriers||33:06.66|
|7||Gary Wallace||Blackhill Bounders||33:12.66|
|8||James Meader||Heaton Harriers||33:21.15|
|9||Lee Bennett||Morpeth Harriers||34:14.53|
|10||Simon Bennett||Hartlepool Burn Road Harriers||34:21.67|
|11||Rory Graham||Houghton Harriers||35:06.79|
|12||Richard Darling||Hartlepool Burn Road Harriers||35:10.13|
|13||John Surtee||Aycliffe Running Club||35:15.11|
|1||Paul Davies||North Shields Poly||37:15.65|
|2||David Moir||Tyne Bridge Harriers||37:21.76|
|3||Harry Tatham||Derwent Valley Trail Runners||40:43.28|
|4||Ian Hutchinson||Derwent Valley Trail Runners||41:28.29|
|5||Charles Butcher||Derwent Valley Trail Runners||41:44.90|
|6||Catherine Lowes||Elswick Harriers||42:04.67|
|7||George Henderson||South Shields Harriers||46:06.20|
|8||Daniel Nettle||Elswick Harriers||43:46.60|
|9||Heather Robinson||Jarrow & Hebburn||43:50.92|
|10||Vicki Thompson||Jarrow & Hebburn||47:20.45|
|11||Helen Ruffell||Jarrow & Hebburn||48:51.86|
|12||Melissa Bateson||Elswick Harriers||49:22.10|
|13||Christine Gilligan||Jarrow & Hebburn||54:58.70|