THE North Eastern Counties Track and Field Championships returned to Middlesbrough Sports Village for a second time with entries up 10 per cent on the previous year.
This increased participation helped produce eight new championship best performances, one championship equalling performance as well as a guest athlete taking advantage of being allowed to compete by blowing away the senior women's javelin figures.
However, the two-day athletics fixture wasn't all about the record breakers as many who took part were rewarded with new pbs in their chosen events.
While the region's well established clubs were naturally to the fore once again there were numerous podium places for the less glamorous outfits not normally known for track and field prowess.
Gateshead Harriers led the charge showing a return to the glory days and, with around 100 athletes making the trip down the A19, were rewarded with 83 of them mounting the podium, 49 of which received gold medals, 25 picked up a silver medal and 19 received a bronze award.
At the other end of the spectrum Derwentside AC, who had a small sprinkling of athletes, were celebrating big time especially when Isla Fenwick topped the podium on no fewer than three occasions after victories in the under-13 200m, 800m and long jump setting new pbs along the way.
Not to be outdone Liam Townson added to Derwentside's medal tally by picking up a silver in the under-15 high jump.
Billingham Marsh House meanwhile, saw Max Butler finish in second place in the under-15 boys 800m while Rowan Teasdale did likewise in the under-15 1,500m.
Now, back to the record breakers. There was only one senior record to fall and that was in the women's shot put contest which saw Gateshead's Sophie Littlemore not only winning her fifth title in a row- she also has four indoor gold medals to her name - but more importantly erasing the 1977 record of 13:83m set by Cathy Hartnell (Sale Harriers) with a best effort of 13:89m.
Since linking up with the Tyneside outfit back in 2015 Sophie has been a loyal servant for the club and a prolific supporter of the county championships.
Last year Bobbie Griffiths set a new championship record of 37:69m in the under-20 women's javelin competition. However, she delivered a superb 38:88m effort this time round showing that the upward spiral continues. Bobbie, who has a lifetime best of 42:27, is currently ranked seventh in the UK listings.
There were three new championship records set in the under-17 men's section, two on the track and one in the field and also three in the women's age group, two in the field and one on the track.
English Schools' champion Dan Joyce set new 800m figures of 1:55.42 last year but went event better this time round with a new record of 1:53.71, a time which equates to third place in the current UK rankings.
In the 3,000m Wallsend's Sam Charlton broke the record last year with a time of 8:45.93 before going on to claim the National, Inter Counties and English Schools' Cross-Country titles. However, his figures were quickly erased as Middlesbrough Mandale's Archie Lowe produced a blistering performance of 8:39.80 which moves him into sixth position in the Po10 rankings.
While both Dan's and Archie's performances were more than creditable it was the under-17 discus, the final event on the opening day, that had the sprinkling of spectators left in the stadium spellbound.
North Shields Poly's James Wordsworth set about chasing Morpeth's Ruaridh Lang's two-year record of 45:65m and he did it magnificently by producing a new life-time best of 49:75m, a distance which slots him into second place in this year's UK rankings.
The under-17 women's 300m record had stood since 1991 but, in the final event of the championship it was bettered by Durham City's Tia Anderson (pictured above, photo credit ROSS PICHLER).
Teesside's Alison Curbishley, who went on to achieve numerous international honours, ran 40.15s over a quarter-of-a-century ago but Tia managed to dip under that recording a superb new pb of 40.10s which sees her move up into seventh place in the UK listings Another international's record also fell by the wayside in the under-17 pole vault. In 2007 Gateshead's Sally Scott, who went on to claim Commonwealth bronze in Hampden Park, Glasgow in 2014, cleared 3:30m but that height was bettered by Birtley's Molly Elliott who soared over 3:50m, a height slightly down on her pb but nevertheless consolidates third place in this years rankings.
The final record to fall came in the under-17 women's hammer competition which saw Morpeth's Jessica Gardiner throw a huge new pb of 46:17m which erased Middlesbrough Mandale's Saada Juma 2018 figures of 44:46m from the record books.
Gateshead's Lucy Giles came agonisingly close to adding her name to the record breakers. However the under-17 athlete, despite having a superior pb, could only equal the current record of 12:07m.
In the senior women's javelin competition Trafford's Kaylie Van Loo was allowed to compete as a guest and produced a best throw of 44:66m which would have been a new record if she had North East qualifications. However, West Suffolk's Sarah Dunkley's 2008 figures of 42:27m still stands.
Despite the increased turnout there were still a number of events which attracted just one or two competitors which, while the championships were a success, they could be much better if more and more would turn their attention to track and field competition during the summer months.
A special pat on the back goes to all competitors and spectators together with the volunteer technical officials who gave their time over two long days. Also thanks to Start Fitness for their generous support and to Meeting Manager Keith Willshire who worked tirelessly before and during, making sure the championships ran smoothly.
Bill McGuirk is the North East's top athletics correspondent. NECAA Chairman and official, Bill can be found at all local athletics events supporting the sport he loves.