SUNDERLAND Harriers have two former winners entered in tonight’s Start Fitness 5k Road Race at Silksworth Sports Complex.
Mark Hood and Brian Rushworth will be among a field of nearly 300 for the event which also incorporates the North East Championship.
Hood was the Wearsiders’ last winner of the race which is regarded as one of the most competitive on the North East circuit. It always attracts many of the region’s finest endurance athletes who are keen to compete over the fast Silksworth course and post a fast time to add to their CV and gain a top spot in the UK rankings.
Hood claimed his victories in 2009, 2008 and 2006. His fastest time came in 2009 with 14.45.
The Chester-le-Street primary school teacher has had another lean spell, suffering from injury and illness problems, but he emerged to make his debut in the Sunderland parkrun at the end of last month, winning the race in a dawdling 16.24.
The three-times North East Cross Country champion said: “I wouldn’t read too much into the time as I only did it as a training tempo run and then I went off course! I lost quite a bit of time, but that didn’t really matter as I just wanted to test my fitness.
“I’m far off my best form, but I’m getting there. I believe I’m in 15.20 shape at the moment.’’
Rushworth has won the race six times with his last win coming in 2000. His fastest time is 14.34. He is now competing as a veteran and remains unbeaten, winning that category five times with his last win in 2010 (15.36). Injury prevented him from turning out last year.
Now aged 49, he is still a force at the sharp end of the race. His fine form he has shown recently has seen him notch up victories in the Penshaw Hill Race and the Lambton Run plus posting the fastest time in the North East Veterans’ Road Relay.
Other Sunderland Harriers, who will be bidding for a place in the first dozen, are Kevin Calvert and Nathan Reed. Calvert has been concentrating on the track this season and clocked his fastest time for 5000m in the North East Athletics League at Gateshead in May, clocking 15.26.50. Reed’s fastest 5k road time stands at 16.40 and that mark is due for revision.
The women’s race is building-up into a decent field with Alex Snook, Angela Hibbs (Jarrow and Hebburn) plus the Wallsend pair of Vicky Hindson and Danielle Hodgkinson entered. Hodgkinson is the fastest of the bunch with a 17.13 clocking to her name. Hibbs has recorded 17.17. The leading Sunderland Harrier is Michelle Holt, the winner of the women’s title in the Prudhoe Miners’ 5 mile road race on Sunday. Her fastest 5k time stands at 17.48 from 2004.
The course records are held by Martin Scaife (Morpeth) with 14.24 from 2004 and Chester-le-Street’s Freya Murray holds the women’s record with 16.13 (2008).
Late entries are available from the Silksworth Sports Complex from 5.30pm. The race starts at 7.15pm. Prize presentation is at the Puma Tennis Centre at 8.30pm.
H The North East Harrier League will have veteran teams included in the Sherman Cup and Davison Shield team competition for the first time at South Shields on Saturday, September 29. Men aged over 40 and women over 35 will be eligible for their own three to count team competition, which will count towards the overall team points. The competition is designed to test the cross country strength of competing North East clubs.
H The Northumberland Coastal Run from Beadnell to Alnmouth and the New Marske Victorian 10k Road Race take place on Sunday.