SUNDERLAND Harriers are entering the road relay season in confident mood after their solid performances in the Durham Cathedral Cross Country Relays on Sunday.
The Wearsiders had their biggest ever turnout for any endurance event and they were rewarded with their athletes running up to form and their veteran men’s team coming away with the gold medals.
It was the overall team performances that delighted team manager Albert James and the efforts of the team captains in ensuring that the club is getting back on a firm footing for future events.
James, a junior international 800m runner in his youth and an English Schools’ champion, is helping to steer the club back in the right direction after some lean years.
The Tunstall man said: “It was a good all-round team effort and the backroom staff deserve some praise in pulling it all together.
“Team captains Dave Savage, Dean Phillips and women’s team manager Eddie Maddison, have all gone that extra mile to ensure a big turnout at Durham.
“Especially pleasing was to see us finish three teams inside the first 12 in the veteran men’s race, in a field of 95, and three teams inside 17 in the senior men’s relay.
“That indicates we are starting to get some strength in depth and our future performances should reflect this.”
The women are also showing improvement in numbers, with four teams turning out. But there is still much to do to get them challenging for honours.
But with a regular influx of new club members, it could be just a matter of time before they turn the corner to success.
James is looking ahead to the next relay challenge at Hetton on Saturday, February 14, when the North East Road Relay Championship for the Royal Signals trophy takes place over six stages.
And last Sunday’s relay was a good indication of who will be in contention for a place in the senior men’s and veterans’ A teams.
Nathan Reed with his 9.37 leg was the ninth fastest of the day at Durham in the senior men’s relay, Michael Wilson was 17th (9.56), Liam Roarty 20th with 9.59 and Michael Barker clocked 10.11.
The veteran fastest time lists saw Kevin Jeffress in second with 9.56, Steve McMahon eighth 10.14, Ian Dixon ninth 10.17 and over-45 Tim Field 14th 10.24.
All the above performances caught James’s eye, but Wilson could be absent as he is at university in Birmingham.
Also, on the missing list could be the Harriers’ top runner Mark Hood, who is still on the injured list and missed Durham.
With a much improved training regime on club nights at Silksworth, under the direction of coaches Ritchie Tough and Glenn Forster, big groups of athletes can be seen going through their track sessions.
This can only help to improve performance and club morale as they look forward to their next competition
James added: “There is a good feeling running through the club and this will serve us well as we enter the tail end of winter season with much to run for.”
H The fourth fixture of the North Eastern Harrier League has been postponed from Saturday and will now take place at Bedewell Park, Jarrow on Saturday, January 31.
H The Durham County Schools’ Cross Country Championships take place at Meadowfield on Saturday.