Purple patch as Houghton Harriers make a big impact in the North Eastern Harrier League

Houghton Harrier Alex Brown.
Houghton Harrier Alex Brown.
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Houghton Harriers are enjoying a well earned purple patch as the club begins the start of the cross country season.

The go-ahead club have entered the Northern and National Cross Country Relays for the first time and enjoyed their first success in the North Eastern Harrier League.

It was teenager Alex Brown that led the way when he became the first Houghton Harrier to win a North Eastern Harrier League senior race in generations at Druridge Bay.

The 17-year-old also led his club to their first win in the third division. They are currently second in the league, two points behind Blyth.

It was Brown that shone in the Northern Cross Country relay at Sheffield last Saturday when he helped Houghton to finish first North East team at Graves Park.

He will also be in action again in the National event at Mansfield a week on Saturday.

The club’s youngsters were also to the fore at Sheffield when the girls’ and boys’ Under-15 teams finished a creditable seventh.

They will be out in force again at Mansfield and will be joined by a girls’ Under-13 team.

Included in the Under-15 boys’ team will be Henry Johnson, the North East Under-13 Cross Country champion who recorded the fourth fastest overall time at Sheffield.

While in the girls’ team, Lydia James was the fifth fastest overall, who won respective silver and bronze medals in the 800m and 1,500m at the North East Track and Field Championships.

Houghton have a developing group of youngsters who have a good coaching team behind them and their results are evidence that their set-up is on the right track.

It is headed by former Commonwealth Games marathon runner Lynn Harding, who represented Scotland twice in the Games.

The Under-11s celebrated success in the Jarrow and Hebburn Minors Cross Country meeting by winning the overall title.

Along with their individual Year Four medallists, Emily Powell and Tom Pigford, the Year Four girls’ team and Year Six boys’ team won their races contributing to Houghton winning the overall David Sharpe Club Trophy.

Their coaches, Liz Page, Mark Ellis and Dominic Ellis were justly delighted with their performances.

The club hold Junior Handicap races on club nights which help to identify talent and gives all runners a chance to shine.

There was a total of 72 runners in the last race and Henry Johnson was again the fastest on the course, being the only athlete to beat five minutes.

He was followed by Adam Middleton and Will Bellamy.

The fastest girl was Anna Pigford in a time of 5.34, only three seconds outside Eleanor Daglish’s course record.

She was closely followed by Nicole Phillips, Eva Hardie, Lydia James and Amy Leonard, who all look capable of challenging the record this year.

A Houghton official said: “Congratulations to Lana Lynn and Lily Merritt, the first two runners home, running off scratch and keeping ahead of the main field.

“Particularly impressive was all the young and new runners who populated the top ten places in the handicap race.

“Thanks once again to all the supporting parents around the course along with the marshals, escort runners and finishing crew.”