James has high hopes for Sunderland Harriers

Steve Potts.
Steve Potts.
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Sunderland Harriers get their preparations for the cross-country season underway when they host their Start Fitness 33rd annual event at Farringdon on Saturday.

The Wearsiders are looking to launch a bid for the North Eastern Harrier League senior men’s title this winter and this is an opportunity to see some early season form.

Picking this year’s team is much tougher than in previous years and I would fully expect to have four if not five teams, running this Saturday.

The senior men’s and veterans relay and the senior women’s scratch race over 3,000m approx are the main events on the afternoon programme.

Albert James, the club senior men’s team manager, said: “I think an improvement on last year’s third place would be a good result. I expect Morpeth, Gateshead and Tyne Bridge, all to have decent teams out.

“A podium finish has to be the target, and have two teams in the first five.

“In contention for places in our strongest teams are: Steve Rankin, Kevin Jeffress, Steve McMahon, Ian Dixon, Nathan Reed, Matty Devlin, Steve Potts and Craig Isherwood.

“Picking this year’s team is much tougher than in previous years and I would fully expect to have four if not five teams, running this Saturday.”

Last year’s winners at Farringdon, were Morpeth from Gateshead Harriers with Sunderland in third place. The Sunderland team was Ian Dixon (9.41), Kevin Jeffress (9.06), Craig Isherwood (9.29) and Nathan Reed (9.30).

The relay will act as a trial for the senior men before two teams are selected for the Northern Athletics Six-Stage Road Relay championship at Blackpool on Saturday, September 19.

The race also opens the Sunderland Harriers’ winter cross-country Grand Prix.

There are a total of six races catering for all age groups from under-11s to veterans with over 600 athletes involved

The slick organisation sees all events completed in a two-hour time slot from 12 noon to 2pm.

The Wearsiders have the proud boast of staging the longest-running club open cross-country event in the North East. And it is the ideal event for club’s to prepare their athletes for the forthcoming season, with the first Harrier League race at Tanfield on Saturday, September 26.

As well as the two relays over four legs of 3,000m, there are races over the same distance for all the other age groups. But the under-11s compete over 1,000m and this is the first race on the programme at 12 noon.

The popular course has been adopted by many as their favourite and is classed as a true cross country test with its mixture of hills, woodland, flat section, twists, turns and the renowned Gilley Law stream to negotiate.

The relay starts at 1pm and the women’s race is the last one on the programme at 1.50pm. This is a rare opportunity for women to compete in a scratch cross country race.

Late entries will be accepted on the day in the college hall.

Houghton Harriers filled first and second places in the senior men’s javelin at the Tartan Games at Gateshead.

Josh Peel won with a throw 41.20 and Karl Horner was second (40.59). Savannah Lloyd was second in the under-15 girls’ 200m (28.22) and third in the long jump (4.74).

Sunderland Harriers had Mark Smith winning the under-20s 800m (1.59.48), Sean Mackie was second in the under-17s (2.05.99), Eve Quinn was third under-15 girl (2.28.57). Molly Gardener was runner-up in the under-15 100m (13.22).

The final prize winning positions in the Sunderland Harriers track and field grand prix have been decided.

They are as follows: Under-11/13: 1 Lydia Stoker 46pts, 2 Lucy Gardener 38, 3 Freya Doran 28. Under15/17: 1 Molly Gardener 74pts, 2 Declan Murray 70, Eve Quinn 60. Under 20/Senior: 1 Mark Smith 72pts, 2 Jess Fox 68, 3 Michael Wilson 50.

Prizes will be presented at the club’s annual meeting at the Lakeside club on Monday, October 5.