Local teams braced for absentees for Start Fitness North East Harrier League fixture

Sunderland Harriers awards presentation: back row left to right: Eve Quinn, Jacqueline Etherington, Sean Mackie, Anthony Erskine, Michael Laws, Jordan Beavers, Barry Lane. Front row: Sarah Knight, Connor Price, Alice Smith, Anna Harris and Ian Dixon.
Sunderland Harriers awards presentation: back row left to right: Eve Quinn, Jacqueline Etherington, Sean Mackie, Anthony Erskine, Michael Laws, Jordan Beavers, Barry Lane. Front row: Sarah Knight, Connor Price, Alice Smith, Anna Harris and Ian Dixon.

A busy fixture list this weekend will stretch clubs in fielding their strongest teams in the second Start Fitness North East Harrier League of the season at Druridge Bay on Sunday.

The Kielder Marathon, Half Marathon and 10km has the biggest pull on local athletes, with the Half Marathon and 10km already sold out.

Also on Sunday is the York Marathon and the Richmond Castle 10km and these two events will also have many North East runners involved.

At the first Harrier League fixture of the season at Wrekenton last Saturday, three Wearside clubs, Sunderland Harriers, Houghton Harriers and Sunderland Strollers, got off to a good start in their respective leagues.

Sunderland Harriers finished fourth in the senior men’s First Division and won the women’s Second Division. The Strollers won the men’s Second Division and Houghton came out on top in the men’s Third Division.

All three clubs are bound to have athletes missing through the glut of events to choice from.

Sunderland Harriers team manager Albert James said: “I think we will have more or less the same team that ran so well at Wrekenton turning out on Sunday. But I wouldn’t be surprised if we find one or two of them are missing.

“We got off to a good start and we have to maintain it if we are to push for the league title.”

Women’s team manager Eddie Maddison is expecting his best runner, Alice Smith, to miss Druridge Bay in favour of the York Marathon.

She is determined to get under three hours for the distance and believes this is the race where she can do so.

Maddison welcomed back Bev Martin to the fold at Wrekenton after last competing in the Harrier League at Newcastle’s Town Moor in 2010.

Under her maiden name of Blakeman, she won two Northern senior titles over 800m and her fastest time for the two laps was 2min 05.3sec. She was the club’s third counter in the team race at Wrekenton.

Stroller Alyson Dixon took the North East Championship title in Sunday’s Redcar Half Marathon where she finished first woman in 10th (77.27). The race was won by Dean Newton (New Marske) 71.06.

Sunderland Harriers leading performances came from Steven Duffy in 18th (80.53), Adam Ridley 36th (84.54), Darren Dodd 50th (86.77) and Tony Allinson (94.04).

Sundeland Strollers had Chris Jackson 45th (84.43) and Mike Hobson 60th (87.41). Run Peterlee’s Gary Bailey was 65th (88.44).

Sunderland Harrier Richard Borrowdale recorded 85.56 in the Great Scottish Half Marathon.

Sunderland Harriers’ presentation night was held in conjunction with the annual meeting at the Lakeside club and the following athletes won awards.

Michael Laws fought back from a back operation to win the best performance award through clocking 78.18 and a personal best in the Great North Run.

Alice Smith took the women’s title for winning the Lambton Run, Aycliffe 10km, Tynedale 10km, New Marske 10km and the Pit Stop 10km and her series of PBs from 10km to the marathon.

Ian Dixon claimed the top veterans’ award for his North East Harrier League overall winning Grand Prix performance and his four fastest times in North East Relays.

Anna Harris was the leading female veteran by winning the North East Masters long jump title with a distance of 4.82m - the third best distance performance for an Over-45 veteran in the UK.

Anthony Erskine was judged to be the most improved athlete in the Harriers through his improved times from 5km, 10km and Half Marathon.

Jacqueline Etherington was the best newcomer through her British Masters’ steeplechase title win and her ranking of top Over-35 in the UK with her performance at Sheffield of 7.47.55.

She also won the North East Masters’ 1,500m title and was winner of the Great North 5km in a PB of 18.44.

Michael Wilson’s clocking of 3.47.27 for the 1,500m was the fastest in the Harriers to claim the 1,500m/one mile trophy.

Barry Lane was the volunteer of the year for his work with the fundamentals group and his organisation of the multi events competition.

Young athletes merit awards were won by Connor Price, Jordan Beavers, Sean Mackie, Eve Quinn and Sarah Knight.