Strollers rise up to the Challenge

Andy Powell.

Andy Powell.

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SUNDERLAND Strollers, preparing to host their Pier-to-Pier race on Sunday, are celebrating after being crowned Sunderland City Club Challenge winners.

They defeated their arch-rivals Sunderland Harriers, who suffered their first defeat in the competition, based on a clubs best three performances in the Sunderland 10k and Half Marathon on Sunday.

The winning team is decided by the lowest cumulative times from the top two men and leading woman in each race. And Alyson Dixon’s superb performance in the half marathon sealed the competition for the Strollers.

She clocked an outstanding 74.36 – nearly 11 minutes ahead of the second woman and over 27 minutes ahead of the Harriers’ leading woman.

The Ashbrooke club won £500 plus travel and accommodation to the Dublin Rock and Roll Half Marathon in September.

Their total time was 5hr 53min 15sec compared to the Harriers, who finished second, with a cumulative time of 5hr 59min 33sec.

The Strollers winning team was: Half marathon - Alyson Dixon (74.36), Michael Edwards (79.59) and Michael Laws (80.42). 10K - Steven Rankin (34.54), Andy Powell (36.59) and Gillian Ritchie (46.37)

The Harriers’, who had five of their runners ahead of the Strollers and two runners in the first five in each of the races, had no answer to Dixon’s terrific performance. It was left to Kathryn Watt to try to maintain the Harriers’ winning margin over the Strollers. But it was an impossible task, despite her running out of skin and improving her personal best by nearly six minutes. There was also praise for 15-year-old Jessica Fox who carried the club flag in the 10k. She finished seventh woman in 44.46 in her debut over the distance.

The Harriers’ team, that won £200 for second place, was: Half marathon - Mark Hood (71.07), Kevin Jeffries (73.06), Kathryn Watt (1.41.44). 10K - Craig Isherwood (33.51), Michael Barker (35.23) and Jessica Fox (44.46).

Tyne Bridge Harriers won £100 for third team with 6hr 20min 01sec.

The Strollers now march on to South Shields on Sunday (10am) for the start of their Pier-to-Pier 7.5 mile (approx) race to Roker pier.

The run will start on the beach at South Shields Pier following the cliff top paths past Marsden Rock, Souter Point Lighthouse, passing by the firing range, onto the beach at Whitburn and finishing at Roker Pier. Competitors are required to keep away from the highway. There will be transport from Roker to South Shields. Coaches leave Marine Walk between 8.00am and 9.00am for competitors with pre-paid tickets. There is no transport after the race. There is a two hour cut off finish time from the start of the race. Note there are no changing facilities at the start or finish. Baggage transport is available from start at South Shields. The race will be chip timed.

Course records are Tim Field (Sunderland Harriers) 36.44 - 2001. Alyson Dixon (Chester-le-Street) 40.28 - 2012.

H The second North East Grand Prix takes place at Monkton tonight (7.00). Highlights include the 800m for the Jimmy Hedley cup.