Sunderland Harrier Alice in wonderland!

Alice Smith

Alice Smith

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Alice Smith has improved leaps and bounds since she joined Sunderland Harriers just over a year ago.

The 33-year-old mother of two has been rattling up impressive performances since winning her first prize in the Penshaw Hill race in June.

I can’t thank the club enough for all the support and help I have had.

After finishing third, she caught the racing bug and has been a regular competitor around the North East circuit and there is rarely a race where she is not on the start line.

She said: “Since winning my first prize at Penshaw, I have got a bit carried away by the number of races I have been doing, but I have really enjoyed them.

“I know I have not much structure to my racing and I need to do something about it.

“I intend to ease off the racing before I do the Great North Run.”

When she joined the Harriers she could not beat 20 minutes for the 5k parkrun, but now she has a best for the distance of 18.04.

Alice achieved her first race win in the Lambton Run in June and the day after she was back in action in the Women’s Only Run at Jesmond Dene, where she finished fourth. Third place in the Durham City 10k was followed by her dipping under 40min for 10k for the first time at the Darlington 10k, where she finished fourth in 38.05.

She is a regular at Sunderland Harriers’ training sessions at Silksworth where under the guidance of coach Richie Tough she is put through her track sessions on Tuesday evenings.

Smith put down the Harriers’ training set-up as one of the reasons for her much improved results.

She added: “There is great comradeship and much encouragement and I have for the first time had some much needed organisation to my training.

“I can’t thank the club enough for all the support and help I have had over the short time I have been at the club.”

Smith’s performances have caught the attention of the Harriers’ nomination panel for a club award at the annual presentation evening in October.

Tonight, Sunderland Harriers host an endurance seminar at the Lakeside Club, Gilley Law (7pm) organised by club team manager Albert James. Former international marathon runner Glenn Forster, Sunderland’s fastest marathon runner with a time of 2.15.08, when finishing 12th in the 1984 London Marathon, is giving an insight into his training and racing programme.

Forster was a Great Britain international over the marathon and in the 1985 World Cup finished 42nd in Japan, recording 2.16.14. He also won marathons in Utrecht (2.17.59), Glasgow (2.17.42) and Nuremburg (2.19.01). He ran under the 2hr 20min barrier seven times.

l Houghton Harriers have three athletes topping the leaderboard in the North East Track and Field Grand Prix with the final event taking place tonight at Gateshead.

They are: Senior woman Laura Fenwick, under-17 Jack Bittlestone and under-15 Philippa Ellis.

Fenwick has amassed her points in the sprints and over 400 metres. Jack Bittlestone has also been quick out his blocks in the 100m and 200m and has also piled up points with other performances in the jumps and shot. Under-15 pentathlete Philippa Ellis has used her skills to amass 67 points to be well ahead of the opposition.

With the first six in each of the categories being awarded prizes, Houghton have another eight athletes involved in the grand prix.

They are Under-13 5th Matthew Lumb, Under-15 2nd Henry Johnson, Girls 5th Lydia James, Under-17 3rd Thomas Bowden, Under-20 5th Dominic Ellis, Senior Men 3rd Phil McCluskey, Women 6th Michelle Hahn.

Sunderland Harriers have the following placed: Under-17 3rd Eve Quinn. Under-20 3rd Jess Fox and Senior Men 3rd Sparrow Morley.

l The Start Fitness awards will be presented at Gateshead Stadium on Monday 26th September at 7.30pm.

The graded races at Gateshead tonight are: 200m, 800m, 400m and 3000m.

l Low Fell Running club host the Watergate 5k at Watergate Park tomorrow night at 7.15pm. Late entries and presentation of prizes are at the Ravensdene Lodge Hotel.