Sunderland Harrier getting back on track

Mark Hood
Mark Hood
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MARK HOOD showed that he is back on course to full fitness after his impressive comeback run in the second fixture of the Start Fitness North Eastern Harrier League at Aykley Heads on Saturday.

The Sunderland Harrier led his club into fourth team place in the senior men’s first division after charging through to sixth, running from the medium pack in the 10k handicap race.

His time of 36.14 was the third fastest of the day behind fast pack men Dan Jenkin of Durham City Harriers, who powered through to tenth (34.29) and Morpeth’s Lewis Timmins in 17th (35.12).

Hood is back on track and determined to contest the North Eastern Counties Cross Country Championships on December 13 at the Town Moor. He has missed the event through injury since 2008, when he won the last of his three titles.

Backing Hood in the Sunderland team, with their actual times, were: Steve Potts 13th (37.28), Liam Riorty 35th (39.02), Noel Hitchcock 46th (39.21), Paul Blakey 49th (41.57) and John Hunt 109th (43.41).

Durham City Harriers, one of the three club hosts, shot to the top of the first division after their win. The cathedral club packed their six counters in the first 23. They were Peter Bray second (37.19), Oliver Watson third (37.34), Dan Jenkin tenth, Chris Walker 11th (39.42), Graeme Hunt 22nd (40.36) and Alex Mirley 23rd (38.12).

Second Division club Sunderland Strollers jumped up the league after winning their team contest. Their win came through Tony Noble’s fine run in seventh (38.45), Ken Maynard 43rd (41.45), Steve McMahon 53rd (42.12), Tim Allsop 73rd (42.58), Aidan Crowe 93rd (43.19) and Thomas Clark 157th (44.47).

Durham’s Jo Ritson was a clear winner (28.23) of the women’s race with a record field of 354 finishers.

The Strollers are languishing at the foot of the first division after finishing tenth and last. The club’s counters were Moyra Magowan 52nd (33.44), Kay Snowball 77th (32.26), Ashleigh Bennett 95th (36.54) and Lesley Watson 213th (38.03).

The Harriers moved up to sixth in the second division after finishing eighth. The scorers were Judith Thirwell 41st (31.28), Nicola Woodward 83rd (30.35), Caroline Fleetwood 121st (35.23) and Donna Corrigan 155th (36.08).

Houghton Harrier Alex Brown had an outstanding run in the under-17men’s race. Running from the fast pack, he tore through the field to win the event by massive margin of over three minutes.

Clubmate Nicole Phillips was third in the under-11s and Henry Johnson was fourth under-13.

Sunderland Harrier Kevin Jeffress crowned his international debut by winning a team gold medal in the British and Irish Masters’ Cross Country international at Nottingham on Saturday.

The Seaham athlete was competing for England in the over-35 age group and he finished a superb sixth (25.39) and second team counter behind the winner Matt Barnes (24.55). England won the four-to-count team competition for the first time by just one point from the Republic of Ireland.

Jeffress clubmate Paul Merrison also took team gold in the over-55 category, finishing ninth and fourth counter.