The Active Northumberland Kielder Marathon welcomed two new champions on Sunday as Matthew Jones and Gemma Bradley secured the top positions in their respective fields. Sunday also saw the launch of the Kielder Half Marathon to further expand the festivities across the weekend, which also included four a 10K and Run-Bike-Run race, both of which took place on Saturday.
Now in its sixth year, the Kielder Marathon has become a firm favourite in the racing calendar thanks to its spectacular setting and unique course. Held alongside what is known as ‘Britain’s most beautiful marathon’ the race took a record number of participants around part of the largest man-made lake in northern Europe, Kielder water, and through Kielder Forest.
With three-time winner Ceri Rees not competing at the race, the men’s competition was primed to welcome a new hero. Matthew Jones, 34, crossed the finish line in 2:43:02, more than two minutes ahead of Conrad Franks (2:45:51) with Mike Jeffries in third (2:51:11). Jones later commented: “I feel elated, and a bit tired. It was a bit of a battle at the front but it’s my first year and I loved it, I enjoyed every minute.”
Northumbria University Lecturer Gemma Bradley secured top billing in the female field in 3:21:53. Lisa Bennett took second (3:26:29) with Jacqueline Keavney in third (3:27:42). Bradley spoke of the testing conditions on the Kielder course: “It was gorgeous, really tough in parts but it’s such a stunning race. I just thought I’d come out for a lovely run, I didn’t expect to win.”
The half marathon looks likely to be a successful addition to the Kielder weekend with almost 700 runners taking part in the inaugural event. Karl Taylor was a clear winner, coming home in 1:14:33, with Debra Crozier first in the women’s field (1:33:14). Lee Cuthbertson headed the 10K race in 35:27, with Jess Fox first lady (41:02).
Councillor Val Tyler, cabinet member for Arts, Leisure and Culture at Northumberland County Council, spoke of the successful launch of the 13.1 mile race: “The addition of the half marathon to this year’s event shows the popularity of Kielder and Northumberland for outdoor activities. The county has a very strong network of running clubs and growing number of runners. It is also an excellent place for walking, and as the Tour of Britain has shown, more and more people are supporting and taking up cycling.”