VISITING Portugese cross country international Paulo Pinheiro found himself out-sprinted by his long-standing friend and rival Lewis Timmins in the annual Morpeth Harriers 11K road race.
The two athletes first met up and trained together while they studied at Tulsa University and 25-year-old Pinheiro was invited to the North-East by fellow World Cross Country Championships international Timmins, who returned from Texas in 2011 to win the regional senior cross country title.
Timmins, who won the North-East 5K road race championship in July, used his knowledge of the course along country roads to full advantage and proved faster in an exciting finish to hold off his rival by two seconds with a winning time of 34 mins 2 secs.
Sunderland Strollers' marathon international Alyson Dixon started the New Year where she left off in 2013 with another comfortable victory.
The 35-year-old Wearsider, who is aiming to win England selection for the Commonwealth Games marathon in Glasgow this summer, finished an excellent 14th overall in 37 mins 47 secs, nearly three minutes clear of Jarrow and Hebburn's Alex Snook.
Results - Men: 1 L Timmins (Morpeth) 34 mins 2 secs; 2 P Pinheiro (Benfica) 34.04; 3 N Shrubb (Morp) 34.19; 4 R Floyd (Morp) 34.31; 5 M Nicholson (Morp) 34.44; 6 D Jenkin (Durham City) 34.52; 7 A Whitwam (Morp) 35.01; 8 R Morrell (Morp) 35.27; 9 M Dawson (Morp) 35.39; 10 K Calvert (Sunderland) 35.50. M40 G Prest (Trafford) 38.59.
Women: 1 A Dixon (Sunderland Strollers W35) 37.47; 2 A Snook (Jarrow & Hebburn) 40.29; 3 C McKittrick (Charnwood W40) 41.38; 4 G Rutherford (North Shields Poly) 43.16; 5 M Ford (South Shields W40) 45.08.
Nearly 200 runners are expected to take part in tomorrow's annual Old Monks Race through woods and fields at Hart Village, Hartlepool. Entries on the day cost £8 (£10 unattached) before the 11am start at Hart Village Hall.
Wallsend Harriers added the North of England 10K road race team championship to their regional ten mile crown after Stockport's disqualification for fielding an ineligible runner in the Ribble Valley 10K. The Tyneside winners were Danielle Hodgkinson (14th), Vicky Gibbs (20th) and Lucy Wallace (28th).