Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Walk in the Park as Race Records Tumble; ATHLETICS

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Walk in the Park as Race Records Tumble; ATHLETICS

Article excerpt


SALTWELL Harriers' Ronnie Walker Centenary Road Race went ahead thanks to hard-working club members - and their efforts were rewarded with new course records by Ryan McLeod and Alyson Dixon.

Ice and snow on the course was cleared away to make sure the race was safe for the maximum entry of 400 who lined up over three circuits of Saltwell Park.

Teessider Richard Morrell was the early leader as the field quickly spread out, but before the completion of the first lap McLeod - six days after helping the Great Britain team finish runners-up behind France in the European Cross-Country Championships - was at the head of affairs.

Under the watchful gaze of father Mike, who won the race 16 times from 1974 to 1989, young McLeod showed his pedigree by pulling further away with every stride.

By midway, McLeod, bidding for a hat-trick of victories having won in 2007 and 2008, was 30 seconds clear of Morrell with former Blaydon athlete and 2009 victor Matthew Armstrong, a similar distance back in third.

Going into the final circuit, McLeod was in no danger of being caught.

Despite having to weave though the lapped runners, his only target was to see if he could dip under his course record of 31:08 he set in 2008.

Passing through the backmarkers made it difficult, but the former Elswick athlete dug deep and ran across the finish line in 30:58 - knocking 10 seconds off his previous best for the tricky twisting and turning course.

The chase for the runners-up spot changed in the final two kilometres as Morrell eased to near walking pace after suffering a severe stitch - which left the door open for Armstrong come home just over a minute behind the winner. Armstrong, competing in a Blaydon vest on his return to the region from his Midlands base, finished in 32:01, the same time he recorded when winning the race two years previously.

McLeod, who only decided to line up in the race on Thursday, said it was a late decision because he did not know how he would feel after his exertions in Slovenia. …

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