Hartlepool Marina 5 Mile – 30th April 2023

by Geoff Hewitson

Despite the fact that races were taking place elsewhere in the region (notably in Gateshead) I was still a bit surprised to find myself as the sole Crookite at this normally popular event. Looking back to pre-Covid times, there were 13 of us at the 2018 running, although last year I think it was just Stan and myself. Anyway, despite a less than encouraging weather forecast, over in Hartlepool it turned out to be a fairly pleasant morning. Conditions could hardly have been much better for running, with the sun managing to break through, cool temperatures, and most importantly for this particular race, only a very slight breeze.

Numbers (and T-shirts!) are collected prior to the race from the Mecca Bingo emporium which served as race HQ, and the start and finish are adjacent to the Historic Quay and Maritime Museum. There is ample free parking close to the start / finish and the whole event is very well organised and marshalled by Hartlepool Burn Road Harriers.

The course is a very straightforward ‘out and back’ where basically you run from the start along to the promenade and then head towards Seaton Carew for 2.5 miles. At this point there are marshals to guide you round a cone (sharp U-turn) then it’s back the way you came for another 2.5 miles to the finish. The whole thing is essentially flat, and therefore a potentially fast 5 mile course provided there’s no wind (being right on the sea front I’d guess it would be very exposed on a windy day). Chip timing is used and there was plenty of bottled water at the finish. The winner was Max Creasey, an U20 Middlesbrough AC athlete who recorded a chip time of 25:24. It always amazes me on an “out and back” course to see how much distance the leaders can put between themselves and the rest of us mere mortals in less than 3 miles. In fact, the first four were pretty well strung out and by the end there were over 3 and a half minutes between 1st and 5th.

As far as my own performance was concerned, I was very pleased to finish 37 seconds faster than last year, with a chip time of 35:25. Overall numbers were significantly down compared to pre-Covid days, probably the clash with Gateshead had a big impact on the size of the field. On Sunday I finished 55th overall out of 192 – back in 2018 I ran 33:20 and finished 107th out of 493 (coincidentally there were also 493 finishers in 2017). From an early stage in the race I was engaged in a bit of a battle with a guy from Aycliffe who I didn’t know but guessed that he looked to be of similar age category (older runners in the club will understand what I mean – you can’t resist having a look around at the start and in the first half mile or so to see if you can spot any potential age category competition!) We exchanged positions several times during the race and I thought he had me when he moved away after about 3 miles. However, as we entered the last mile I caught and passed him for what turned out to be the last time and had about 13 seconds to spare at the end. Just as well, as it turned out, as I got an unexpected age category prize through the post on Thursday, and according to the results the Aycliffe guy was in the same age category as myself.

As in previous years, the race also incorporated the NEMAA 5 mile Road Race Championships. Presumably I must have won gold in my age category as I was first in the race overall, but haven’t been able to find anything on the NEMAA website as yet to confirm this.