Houghton Harriers’ youngsters enjoy big medal haul

Nicole Phillips, winner of the under-13 1,500m and silver medallist in the 800m.
Nicole Phillips, winner of the under-13 1,500m and silver medallist in the 800m.

Houghton Harriers’ young middle distance runners scooped a bagful of medals in the two day North Eastern Counties Track and Field Championships at Gateshead.

They won one gold, two silver and four bronze medals in the 800m, 1,500m and 3,000m events in the under-13 and under-15 age groups.

It was a great day for their coach Lynn Cooper, who saw some great performances from her athletes at the weekend.

Under-13 Nicole Phillips led the way with her superb win in the 1500m (5.6.58) after finishing second in the 800m (2.29.46) the previous day. Her performance in the 1,500m was a grade one standard.

Lydia James finished runner-up in the under-15 800m (2.27.39) and third in the 1,500m (5.02.51). Eva Hardie claimed her bronze medal in the under-15 800m (2.29.51).

Under-13 North East Cross Country champion Henry Johnson, competing as an under-15 on the track as a first year, won himself two bronze medals to add to his collection.

He was third in the 1,500m (4.27.32) and equaled that position in the 3,000m (9.43.93). He set the under-13 1,500m championship record last year when winning in 4.42.6.

There was another gold medal performance for Houghton from Matthew Lumb in the under-13 200m. He bounced back from finishing fourth in the 100m to win over the half lap in 27.16.

To add to Houghton’s medal count, all-round athlete Ben Mitchell won the under-20s men shot before finishing second in the discus (38.96).

Matthew Cleugh was third in the under-15 300m (40.82) and Philippa Ellis finished second in the under-15 discus (21.59).

Sunderland Harriers were also in the medals in the under-17 and under-20 age groups.

Jack Tallentire improved his 5k best by over one minute to win gold in the under-20 5000m (16.35.77). Jess Fox won two bronze medals in the under-20 in 800m (2.21.79) and 1500m (4.51.77).

Mark Smith improved from fourth place in the under-20 1500m to pick-up bronze in the 800m in a best of 1.57.05. Sarah Knight also featured in the under-17 3000m in third place, slicing 11 seconds off her previous fastest time (11.14.73).

Hylton Lane’s Sophie Burnett (Birtley) was in gold medal form with two victories in the under-20 800m (2.14.72) and 1,500m (4.37.39).

A group of Sunderland Harriers travelled to Manchester in the search for personal bests in the fast Trafford 10k, won by Tom Lancashire in 28.56.

But they have now found that their performances have been annulled as the course was found to be short.

They were Nathan Reed who clocked 31.52, taking four seconds off his previous best. There were also PBs for Andy Powell 32.23, Ian Dixon second over-40 in 33.19, Matt Devlin knocked nearly three minutes off his fastest time with 33.31, Michael Thompson was sixth over-45 in a best for this age group of 33.48, Michael Edwards recorded his quickest of 34.43, Ian Ritchie clocked 34.59 and Jimmy Johnson 38.57

The course used for the Trafford 10k since 2009 was short by just over 100m, the Association of UK course measurers (AUKCM) has confirmed.

“We are very disappointed to be told that the course had been measured short and feel that thousands of runners have been let down by the AUKCM,” Trafford 10k organiser Dave Norman said.

This follows the debacle over Greater Manchester Marathon course, used from 2013-15, that was also found to be around 380m short by the AUKCM.

Now more than 30 road race courses around the North West are being investigated following concerns they are short. Courses are measured using a bicycle fitted with a counter to calculate the distance.

Sunderland Strollers stage their Pier-to-Pier race from South Shields to Roker on Sunday at 10am.

Athletes are free to choose their own route, but must keep off the highway. Over 1,000 runners are expected to compete.