The North East has been forced to make two changes to their senior teams for Saturday’s Inter Counties Cross Country Championships and World Trials at Loughborough, also on Saturday.
Former Sunderland Harrier Jack Martin has withdrawn from the men’s team following his superb seventh position in last week’s English National Cross Country Championships at Nottingham.
He was expected to lead the team, who go for a record-breaking seventh win in-a-row at Prestwold Hall,
Martin, who has kept his allegiance to the North East despite living in Manchester, is looking to step up to the marathon and is eyeing the Amsterdam Marathon in October.
He said: “I have had a calf and foot issue since winning the Alsager 5 last month and Dave (Turnbull – his coach) wants me to give it some rest and rehab.
“My plan is to have a track season up until the end of June, take a little rest and then build up to Amsterdam.”
Martin’s absence will be a big blow for the North East, but such is the strength of the squad that they will still be a threat to all and Lancashire’s record is still a target.
Durham City Harrier and tri-athlete Dan Jenkin replaces Martin in the nine-man team.
The senior men’s team is: Johnny Taylor, Nick Swinburn, Carl Avery (all Morpeth), Dan Garbutt, Dan Jenkin (Durham), Phil Wylie (Cheltenham), Andy Burn (Jarrow and Hebburn), Calum Johnson (Gateshead) and Greg Jaysuriya (Middlesbrough).
Houghton Harrier and women’s team manager Lynn Harding has also had to make one change to her squad.
Morpeth’s Josie Cram has withdrawn with a knee injury.
She has been replaced by clubmate Jane Hodgson, the fastest athlete in the woman’s race in the North Eastern Harrier League at Alnwick on Saturday.
Women’s team: Rachel Lundren, Helen Warburton (Gosforth), Emma Holt, Jane Hodgson (Morpeth), Rosie Smith (Durham), Mary Ferrier (Gateshead), Ashley Gibson (Tonbridge), Georgia Campbell and Gina Rutherford (Jarrow and Hebburn).
Houghton Harriers’ young athletes have had a splendid cross country season and they have five of their young athletes selected for North East teams and two are named as reserves.
Durham Schools’ champion Alex Brown is included in the Under-20 men’s team and North East Cross Country bronze medallist Henry Johnson is in the Under-15 team.
In the girls’ teams, Nicole Phillips, the North East Under-13 1,500m champion, is selected for the Under-13 team.
While Lydia James, who ran well for 23rd position in the Northern Championships at Knowsley, and Anna Pigford, sixth in the North East Cross Country Championships, are included for the Under-15 team.
Eva Hardy is second reserve. Ryan Clark is an Under-20 men’s reserve.
The Houghton girls’ Under-15 team also brought their season to a close by coming from behind to win the North Eastern Harrier League team title from Morpeth at the final fixture at Alnwick on Saturday.
They also finished second to Birtley in the Under-13 girls’ table.
Lydia James finished runner-up in the Harrier League Under-15 Grand Prix, Eva Hardie was fifth and Anna Pigford sixth, with Morpeth’s Holly Peck winning first prize.
Houghton also placed Nicole Phillips in fourth in the Under-13 Grand Prix.
Sunderland Harriers featured in the two senior age group Grand Prix with Ian Dixon holding off Darren Purvis by just one point to win the Over-40 veterans’ first prize.
Alice Smith moved up to second at Alnwick, finishing behind Morpeth’s winner Emma Holt.
Birtley AC host their inaugural Junior Cross Country Relays on Sunday at Lord Lawson of Beamish Academy, Birtley Lane, Birtley DH3 2LP.
The event is in celebration of Birtley’s 30th anniversary and they will be holding three-stage cross country relay events.
The events are 10.15am – Under-11 boys and girls’ 3x1.25km, 10.45am – Under-13 boys and girls’ 3x1.65km and 11.20am – Under-15/17 boys and girls.