Always run on the first Sunday in December, the Sands Race uses its own unique handicap system which gradually unwinds as the runners make their way from Blyth to Seaton Sluice and back along the beach.
Blessed by Winter sunshine and not even a hint of a breeze, the start of this year’s race had been moved back to midday for the tides, although runners again had to overcome the event’s own unique version of ‘groyne strain’ as they made their way over the four waist-high beach barriers in front of the colourful huts at the Blyth end.
Running off a 9 minute handicap from scratch, Over 65 veteran David Nicholson – who was competing in the event for the first time – showed how much he is at home in off-road conditions as he took a commanding lead on the return leg from Seaton Sluice.
He was, however, being steadily hauled in by Dan Dixon, who himself running off a 2 minute handicap, was to post the fastest time of the day for the nominal 5 mile course (28 minutes 25 seconds).
Nicholson was still in the lead as he made his way over the final groyne, but in the 200 yard run in to the finishing line, he was overtaken by Dixon and had to settle for 2nd place, with North Shields Polytechnic Harrier Greg Penn in 3rd.
Next home for the club was another runner competing in the event for the first time, Rachelle Falloon who, as a Senior Woman, ran off a 4 minute handicap and comfortably ran the fastest female time of the day (34m 41s) for 15th place.
Morpeth’s final counter for the four to count team prize was O/60 Bill Tilley, 27th overall,
although the club lost out for 1st place to Heaton Harriers and had to settle for 2nd team.
Also running for Morpeth were Paul Bellingham, 43rd and 3rd O/55, and local lad Ricky Stafford, running off scratch for 55th place and delighted to be part of his first Sands race.
Some 177 finished.