Brian Rushworth looks to claim yet another first place

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BRIAN RUSHWORTH, at the age of 49, is expected to be among the front-runners in the Sunderland City 10k on Sunday.

The race forms part of the Run Sunderland Athletics Festival and starts at 10.10am – 55 minutes after the start of the Marathon of the North from the Stadium of Light.

Sunderland Harrier Rushworth makes a rare excursion over the distance after an Achilles tendon injury disrupted his racing plans last year.

He has cut down on the longer distance races, as he nurses his injury problem through a reduced training and racing schedule.

“I have just got to be careful as it can become quite sore at times,’’ he said

“But I have put some quite good training sessions together and all indications are that I am running quite well.’’

That was proved in his last race – in the Elswick Harriers’ Good Friday Road Relay – where he easily ran the fastest lap of the day in the veterans’ event. In the four events he has competed in this year, he has been first in each one.

He won the Old Monks Race at Hart Village in January then, a couple of weeks later, ran the fastest lap in the Durham Cathedral cross-country relay. In March, he maintained his unbeaten record in the North East Veterans Cross-Country Championships, winning his ninth title at Hebburn – a remarkable record.

You have to go back to 2006 to see the last time that Rushworth ran over the 10k distance on the roads. He clocked 32.45 in the Nissan 10k at Washington and the year before that he won the Norham 10k in 32.17.

Last year’s Sunderland race was won in 31.15 by fellow veteran Ian Hudspith of Morpeth Harriers, who is expected to defend his title. That time will be difficult to beat on Sunday as the 41-year-old school teacher has cut back on his racing and training to concentrate on his new job as head of maths.

If Rushworth can run within a minute of his previous outing at Washington, he will be delighted, but he also has to take on his younger rivals. Clubmate Kevin Calvert, fifth last year in 36.01, who has now reduced his PB to 32.27, should improve on his 2011 performance. Also in the field is Morpeth’s Michael Morris, who won the Cragside 10k last month in 33.41.

Sunderland Harrier Michelle Holt, second woman to finish in the Fountains Abbey 10k multi-terrain race last Sunday, could improve on her third place of last year. Then she clocked 39.47 – behind winner Sonia Samuels (34.33) and Durham’s Rosie Smith (36.42). Holt’s clubmate Ingrid Hope, sixth last year, will again be chasing a leading place.