A double dose of gold glory for North East runners

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THE North East scooped a double gold and a silver medal in the McCain Inter-Counties Cross-Country Championships at Cofton Park on Saturday.

The televised Sky event, which also incorporated the UK Challenge final, saw the region get off to a great start and finish with a flourish at the end of the 10 events on the programme.

It was Markim Lonsdale who clinched the first gold for the region in the under-13 boys’ event when he reversed the placings of the National Cross-Country Championships in London two weeks ago.

There, he finished second to Canaan Solomon, but this time, in a terrific sprint finish, Lonsdale pipped the Essex athlete by the thickness of his vest, with both runners being given exactly the same time of 10.19 for the undulating 3,000m course.

Houghton Harries’ representative in the North East team, Alex Brown, was 119th.

The North East had to wait until the final race before they hit the medal trail again and in front of 5,000 spectators, the senior men’s team delivered all that was asked of them.

Ricky Stevenson (35.06) claimed the individual silver medal behind Lancashire’s National champion Keith Gerrard (34.57).

The New Marske runner led the North East squad to an emphatic team victory, packing their six counters inside the first 48 finishers to beat Surrey by a resounding 100 points.

The other counters were Jonathan Taylor in fourth (35.23), Lewis Timmins 10th (36.04), Peter Newton 28th (36.49), Matt Nicholson 31st (36.57) and Carl Smith 48th (37.25). Durham’s Michael Grimes was 101st.

Stevenson left today for five weeks altitude training trip in Kenya and on his return he intends to race in the Shildon Open meeting, where he is targeting a 7.45 3,000m in preparation for Olympic 1,500m selection. The women’s race was won by Gemma Steel (Leics) in 32.55 from Steph Twell (Hamps) who recorded 27.03. The first North East finisher was Rosie Smith in tenth (28.33).

The Durham City Harrier won £600 for third in the Challenge final. Sunderland Harrier Michelle Holt had an off day to finish 160th.

Sunderland Harriers had a further four runners selected for the North East and they were Oliver James with 66th in the under-20s, Joel Jones, 73rd under-15 boy, Alison Seadon, 56th under-20 woman and Amy Coulson, 129th under-17.

Washington’s Barry Maskell had a great run to finish 17th and first North East counter in the under-17s race.

H Sunderland Harriers veteran Paul Redman finished an impressive eighth (1.27.42) and Steve Potts 20th (1.32.02) in the Dentdale Run in the Yorkshire Dales.

The race was won by Ian McBride in 1.19.09.

Wallsend’s Yared Hagos won the Inverness half-marathon yesterday in exactly 65 minutes