Sunderland Harrier Graham Lancaster gets his appetite back

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SUNDERLAND Harrier Graham Lancaster is back on track after taking an active break from the sport before re-discovering the joys of competition in last month’s Sunderland City 10k.

The 39-year-old, a former North East road race representative, was astonished to finish 14th in a very modest time of 38.44 when he crossed the finish line outside the Stadium of Light.

That has triggered him to seek more competition as he attempts to get his time down to a more commendable level.

“I would never have thought a time like that would have given me 14th position,’’ said Lancaster.

“I realise standards have fallen dramatically, but running 38 minutes for 10k is no great shakes for a serious runner.”

Lancaster, who finished second in the 1996 North East 10,000m track championship in 31.09.7, has already started his attempt to bring his time down to a more acceptable level.

“If I can improve my time to around 33 minutes, that would get me a place near the front of the field in most 10k runs these days, it could even win some,’’ added Lancaster, who is starting his campaign a few pounds over his racing weight of his glory days.

Lancaster wasted no time in returning to road racing action in last Wednesday’s Tynedale 10k, with a big field of 700 runners.

His new-found appetite for competition was rewarded with a time minutes faster than that of his Sunderland performance. He clocked 35.12 to again finish 14th in the race won by Morpeth’s Ian Harding (31.54). Sunderland Stroller Liam Taylor was fourth (33.07).

The sports teacher helped the Harriers to second team award. He backed seventh place Paul Besford (33.57) and Kevin Calvert 10th (34.17) to finish behind winners Morpeth.

It was also a fine performance from Calvert, who has chopped two minutes 33 seconds off his 10k time since joining the Harriers last year. His structured training programme, under the direction of former marathon international, Glenn Forster, has seen big improvements in his performances.

H Sunderland Harriers’ under-15 Holly Lancaster won the athlete of the match award at the last North East Athletics League at Monkton. She won the 100m in a personal best of 12.9. Tonight’s league meeting is staged at Gateshead.

H Sunderland Harriers have moved their Harrier League fixture date from October 1 to October 29 at Farringdon.

The full fixture list is: Saturday Oct 22: Sherman Cup/Davison Shield, Temple Park (Jarrow and Hebburn/South Shields); Saturday Oct 29: Farringdon (hosted by Sunderland Harriers); Saturday Nov 26: Shibdon Park (Blaydon); Sunday Jan 8: Town Moor (Elswick); Saturday, Feb 11: Wrekenton (Saltwell); Saturday March 3: Alnwick (Alnwick); Saurday March 24: Prudhoe (Tynedale).

H Hartlepool Burn Road Harriers stage their Old Monks multi-terrain race at Hart Village on Sunday at 11am. The race is a testimonial to their leading official, 90-year-old Alf Walsh, who is still active in the sport after 50 years as a North East timekeeper.

The race is over an undulating course through woods and fields, on public footpaths and bridleways, at approximately 5.5 miles. There will be prizes in male, female, senior and veteran categories, reflecting on the race entries. Minimum age 15 years on the day of the race. The changing facilities are at Hart village hall, Hart, near Hartlepool.

H Last year’s women’s winner of the Sunderland 5k, Blaydon Harrier Hester Dix, won the Heaton Women’s Only Run in 19.14. Sunderland Strollers had Vicki Booth sixth (22.30) and Louise Baldock 15th (26.32).

H Entries for the Sunderland 5k Road Race on Wednesday July 20 (7.15pm) close next Monday. They should be sent to the race secretary, 14 Chantry Close, Chapelgarth West, Sunderland SR3 2SL.