FOR the second time within three weeks a national cross country championship takes place at Herrington Country Park on Saturday.
This time it is the turn of the British Masters Athletics Federation who follows the English Cross Country Association in staging their championships at the park.
The masters championships is on a much smaller scale with their two races attracting 439 athletes compared to over 3000 for the ten events at the English National.
This will be the fifth time the championships have been staged in Sunderland, with the previous four being held at Silksworth Sports Complex during the 1990s.
Sunderland Harrier Brian Rushworth will again be bidding to win an individual title, this time for the first time in the over-50 class.
But he goes into the event having his first cross country race since he won the North East Veterans’ over-45 championship at Jarrow, exactly a year ago on Saturday.
Following that performance he had five further successful races with his last outing of 2012 being in winning the Penshaw Hill Race in June.
Then he was blighted with a hamstring and knee problem which continued to bother him throughout the year and into 2013.
He re-emerged in the Signals Road Relay at Hetton on February 16 after a fitness test just before the race.
There he clocked the second fastest over-50 time of 11.49 behind Guy Bracken’s sensational run of 11.02. But the North Shields athlete does not compete at Herrington, he is chasing indoor European masters gold over 3000m in Spain next week.
Rushworth, who has a superb record in the championship, winning two over-40 and three over-45 championships, is still not 100 per cent fit but he is gingerly managing his injury problem.
He said: “Some days are better than others. It is concern, but I could not miss out on this championship on my doorstep.’’
Rushworth’s biggest rival on Saturday could be Durham City Harrier Rob Hand who was just three seconds slower than him at the Signals.
Sunderland will field a strong over-45 team as joining Rushworth will be Paul Merrison, Paul Redman and Tim Field for the three-to-count competition.
Timetable: 12.00 noon Race 1 – 6km approx. Women (all ages) and Men 65+.
1.00pm – Race 2 8km Men 35-64.
H The English Schools’ Cross Country Championship takes place at Catton Park, Derby on Saturday. Durham has selected their teams with eight to run from each squad.
Squads: Junior Boys: Markhim Lonsdale, Alexander Brown, Jamie Wood, Tom Hunter, Bradley Davies, Matthew Wakefield, Cameron Stainsby, James Hughes, Luke Taylor, Ross Boddy, Jack Donnelly, Joseph Graham-Bradley.
Inter Boys: Liam Emmett, Joe Armstrong, Thomas Goulding, Alexander Brown, Oliver Watson, Joel Jones, Cory Fenwick, Kieran Walker, Jordan Fenwick, George Rudman, Sam Leeming, Joseph McCready.
Senior Boys: Barry Maskell, Dean Newton, Adrian Bailes, Jordan Bell, Isaac Dunn, James Watson, Michael Todd, Adam Walker, Chris Peverley, Ross Anderson, Dan Wood, Ben Simms.
Junior Girls: Olivia Bateman, Lucy-Erin Hunter, Katie Noble, Mikayla Jordens, Rebecca Mott, Jess Hull, Katie Gunn, Lola Tindle, Lizzie Cramb, Mya Crowder, Amelia Leslie, Alexandra Rimmer.
Inter Girls: Sophie Montgomery, Sophie Burnett, Lydia Turner, Eleanor Daglish, Danielle Elliott, Bethan Thomas, Anna Fawcett, Rachel Bourne, Meriel Smithson, Emily Alderson, Jessica Fox, Danielle Coulson.
Senior Girls: Amy Etherington, Zoe Hewitson, Sophie Forster, Abie Hearmon, Amy Coulson, Hayley Bradley, Hazelle Webster Costello, Sarah Bell, Elise Wild, Katie Taylor, Hannah Mattinson.