Sunderland Harrier Paul Merrison shines for England in the Irish mud

Paul Merrison. Picture by Liam Roarty
Paul Merrison. Picture by Liam Roarty
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Sunderland Harriers Paul Merrison and Kevin Jeffress had mixed results competing for England in the British and Irish Masters’ Cross Country Championships in Dublin on Saturday.

Merrison finished second English counter to win a team bronze in the M55 race at Santry Demesne, hosted by Clonliffe Harriers.

Jeffress, struggling with a chest infection, did not count for the team but still picked up a team silver medal in the M35 race.

Merrison said: “I was eighth in the M55 age group race and second England counter. My M55 team won bronze behind two strong teams from Scotland (silver) and Ireland (gold).

“We ended up one point from claiming silver in an incredibly tight finish. I recorded the same time as the seventh and was one second behind sixth.

“I was pleased because I came from behind to beat two England team-mates who I caught on the third lap.

“I got stronger as the race progressed, but, in the sprint finish, just missed out on catching an Irish and Northern Ireland runner. It was my best international run since 2004 at Croydon.’’

England won 15 of the 17 age group titles last year, but this time Ireland made the most of home advantage to have one of their most successful championships on a wet and windy day.

Sunderland Harrier Steve McMahon, first reserve for the M35 team, ran in the open race for reserves and had a great win. He beat the second and third England reserves and won by 50 metres.

Sunderland Harriers won the veteran’s team race in the Brampton to Carlisle 10 mile road race yesterday.

They placed Paul Blakey in 24th (58min 2sec), Steven Potts 28th (59.10) and a new member, over-45 Jason O’Neil 72nd (63.51). Ian Dixon was the first finisher for the Harriers in 14th (56.26). Jimmy Johnson was 100th (66.16). Washington’s Steven Duffy (Gateshead) finished 40th (60.46).

The Sunderland Harriers women’s team finished 15th team, with Coleen Compson (77.45), Rachael Moore (82.04) and April Jones (83.45).

The race was won by Lewis Timmins (Morpeth (52.31) and the women’s event saw Joanna Zakzewski of Dumfries win in 61.19.