Ceri Rees defied the weather on Sunday to defend his title at the Salomon Kielder Marathon. Rees, who led the field home in a time of 2:43:55, stands as the only runner to have secured successive victories at the race that is known as 'Britain's most beautiful marathon.'
Despite the wet conditions, more than 800 runners managed to complete the tough course around the shoreline of Kielder Water. Rees, 40, was followed by Blackhill Bounders' Patrick Duffy (2:52:25), with South Shields Harriers' David Wakefield in third (2:53:09).
Speaking after the race, Rees commented: "I feel tired! It's different off-road running to road running - it's tougher on muscles but easier on joints. Kielder is beautiful, it hasn't been perfect weather for sightseeing but for running it was. I wasn't expecting to beat my time from last year because I had a few injury problems, I was just pleased to get round."
In the women's field, Victoria Nealon of Rugby, Warwickshire was the first to cross the finish line in a time of 3:22:41, followed by Louise Hayes in second place. Nealon, 30, said the course was tough going: "It was hard, I kept thinking 'please, no more hills' but they kept coming! But it was good, it was a nice run. This is my second marathon but it's the first time I've competed in Kielder Marathon and I've got London next!"
In addition to the marathon, the weekend of festivities also included the Run-Bike-Run event and a 10k, both of which recorded a sizeable jump in entries. The duathlon, which was sold out a number of days before the race, was won by Sean Poulter in 1:58:35. The 10k event attracted 654 runners - more than double the number of participants who took part in 2011.
Former Olympic athlete and world record holder, Steve Cram, who organised the event, said: "It's been a wet day today but it's been a good one. Everyone has been keen to get involved - the Run-Bike-Run was completely sold out this year and the atmosphere over the whole weekend was fantastic. Congratulations to everyone who completed the marathon."
Results of the Kielder Marathon, Kielder 10k and Run-Bike-Run are available via northernrunningguide.com.