Sunderland Harriers hoping to make amends

Dave Savage.

Dave Savage.

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SUNDERLAND Harriers get the cross-country season underway when they host their Start Fitness 32nd annual event at Farringdon on Saturday.

The six events on the programme cater for all age groups from under-11s to veterans’ with the senior men’s and veterans’ four stage relay being the highlight of the afternoon’s proceedings.

The Wearsiders have the proud boast of staging the longest-running club open cross-country event in the North East. And it is the ideal event for club’s to prepare their athletes for the forthcoming season, with the first Harrier League race at East Cramlington on Saturday, October 11.

As well as the two relays over four legs of 3000m, there are races over the same distance for all the other age groups. But the under-11s compete over 1000m and this is the first race on the programme at 12.00 noon.

The popular course has been adopted by many as their favourite and is classed as a true cross country venue with its mixture of hills, flat sections, twists, turns and a stream to negotiate.

Last year a swarm of wasps interrupted proceedings before the relay got the all clear to go ahead. Sunderland’s senior men’s relay team had more than a swarm of wasps to contend with, as they finished outside the medals in their worst result in the history of the race. The 20-times winners could only finish eighth and team manager Albert James and club captain Dave Savage intend to make amends for the poor result. You have to go back to 2009 to the last time the Wearsiders won and both James and Savage are aware of that and are determined to give home supporters something to cheer.

Only the club’s top man Mark Hood will to be missing from the athletes down for selection, so the team should be near full strength.

The relay will act as a trial for the senior men before two teams are selected for the following week’s Northern Athletics Six-Stage Road Relay championship at Warrington. The race also opens the Sunderland Harriers’ winter cross-country grand prix where veteran Paul Redman defends his title.

Last years winners at Farringdon, Gateshead Harriers defend their title and second placed Durham also have a decent squad with Morpeth and Tyne Bridge also coming into the equation.

The relay starts at 1pm and the women’s race is the last one on the programme at 1.50pm. Late entries will be accepted on the day in the college hall.

H The winners of the Sunderland Harriers’ track and field grand prix have been announced.

They are under-20s - 1 Michael Wilson 38pts, 2 Natalia Piwonska 34, 3 Sam McKenzie 32.

Under-15 and under-17s -1 Laura Hand 36, 2 Molly Gardener 34, 3 Jack Robinson 32.

Under-11 and under-13s - 1 John Harris 26, 2 Darly Armstrong 18, 3 Harry Tiltman 16.

Awards will be presented at the Sunderland Harriers’ annual meeting at Monkwearmouth Hospital boardroom on Monday, October 6.

H Michael Edwards is top of the Sunderland Strollers running championship table with 1193 points and Andy Duke is second (1138). Fifth placed Jenna Maynard is first woman with 1071 points and sixth placed Joy Champion (1055) is second.

The next championship race is Sedgefield Serpentine on 21st September.