Sunderland Harrier Steve Rankin likes nothing better than a challenge when it comes to taking on an athletics feat of endurance.

It was the 2016 Blaydon Race, the second biggest North East Road Race behind the Great North Run, that his powers of endurance first came to light. Running his fourth race in five days, in a big field of over 4,000 runners, and with most of the top North East athletes involved at the sharp end of the race, he finished with a highly creditable performance of 15th position.

He put that race down as his best ever, alongside his epic winning run in the Sunderland Strollers Urban Ultra Marathon of 36 miles in 2017. He finished the race 57 minutes ahead of the runner-up and also beat all of the relay teams involved in the race.

Steve Rankin - Man For A Challenge.

The tough of the track also has a liking for any sort of trail or mountain race where his stamina and mental toughness is fully tested. And with a good turn of speed he feels at home in relay events where running the anchor leg is a permanent role for him.

Rankin said: “My first taste of athletics was with Sunderland Harriers when I was 11 years old, but I didn’t last long. It was when I was 27 and started doing a few parkruns that I picked it up again and Graeme Pullan suggested that I join the Strollers. I was with them for four years and improved greatly with the club with much of that down to doing a lot of training with Alyson Dixon. I realised I needed to join a stronger group to reach my potential and I also wanted the opportunity to compete at big national relay events which I knew I would get with the Harriers".

“I believe we have the best over-35 age group in the country at our club at present and we are capable of winning national relay gold medals with our veterans’ team.’’

The 36-year-old added: “I normally train every day and sometimes twice a day but I have had quite a few injuries over the last year or so, meaning I have had to have a lot more rest days. Fingers crossed I’m totally injury free now, so hoping to be training pretty much every day from now on and running my favourite trail sessions around Penshaw Monument and through the woods".

Having his first race back since the pandemic brought to an end competitive athletics in February 2020, Rankin made a winning return. He won the Trail Out Laws Washington 10k by a street last month. The race was organised as a time trial to accommodate the relevant Covid rules.

Previous to that he showed good form just before the 2020 season came to an abrupt end, winning the Appleby Rotary 10k in 35:30, he was second in the Durham Willow Miners Run, second in the Sedgefield Run and fourth over 10k in the Wynyard Hall 10k (35:04).

Rankin’s personal bests stand at: 1mile - 4:28, 3000m - 9:00, 5k - 15:45, and 10k - 33:09.