Sunderland Harriers hoping to make the most of return to the National Six-Stage Road Relay Championships

Houghton Harriers were one of the most successful clubs with nine winners of awards at the North East Track and Field Grand Prix. Seven of their winners, pictured, were presented with awards by Stephen Miller MBE and triple Paralympic gold medallist.
Houghton Harriers were one of the most successful clubs with nine winners of awards at the North East Track and Field Grand Prix. Seven of their winners, pictured, were presented with awards by Stephen Miller MBE and triple Paralympic gold medallist.
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Sunderland Harriers return to the National Six-Stage Road Relay Championship for the first time since 2010 at Sutton Coldfield on Saturday.

They are one of three North East clubs, Morpeth and Tyne Bridge Harriers are the others, to make the journey to Sutton Park.

Sunderland qualified after finishing 15th in the Northern Championship relay at Manchester 10 days ago.

They have been forced to make two changes to that team that ran up to form and finished well inside a top 25 qualifying position.

Unavailable to travel are Kevin Jeffress and Barry Maskell, replacing them are Ian Ritchie and Jake Jansen. Ritchie has a best of 15.56 for 5km and Jansen has clocked 16.21.

They join Steve McMahon, Andy Powell, Sparrow Morley and Jack Tallentire. Only Morley has competed in the six-stage previously when he was in the Tyne Bridge Harriers team in 2013 and recorded 20.03 for his leg.

McMahon has ambitions of breaking into the top 15 fastest times recorded by Sunderland Harriers on the undulating 5.848k course since 2001.

They are: 1 Patrick Martin 17.17 (2009), 2 Mark Hood 17.40 (2008), 3 Jack Martin 17.45 (2009), 4 Brian Rushworth 17.55 (2001), 5 Gavin Massingham 18.01 (2007), 6 Lee Browell 18.22 (2002), 7 Richard Kemp 18.42 (2002), 8 Tim Field 18.57 (2002), 9 Tom Doughty 19.03 (2004), 10 Steve Potts 19.04 (2004), 11 Paul Given 19.11 (2008), 12 Norman Younger 19.31 (2006),13 Mark Donkin 19.32, (2001), 14 Andrew Lilliendale 19.35, (2002), 15 Damien Weston 19.40 (2009), Matthew Foggin 19.40 (2010).

The Sunderland team that competed in 2010 was: Mark Hood (18.12), Patrick Martin (17.29), Matthew Foggin (19.40), Steven Duffy (20.01), Damien Weston (20.48) and Nathan Reed (22.02).

The second fixture of the North Eastern Harrier League takes place at Druridge Bay on Sunday, and Sunderland Harriers have a mountain to climb if they are to retain their first division title.

They got off to a dreadful start in the opening fixture, finishing ninth of 10 competing clubs.

The best runs came from Jason Waite in seventh, Michael Heskett 30th and fast-pack man Ian Dixon 54th, but their final three counters finished way down the field.

Now team manager Albert James faces a mammoth task, if is to get the club back on track. James said: “There is no doubt about it we have much to do if we are to climb the table. But I have not given up the challenge. We will start on Sunday and the team should give us a lift with the runners we will be turning out.”

Slow pack runners Barry Maskell and Mathew Davison should lead the Harriers’ charge from the medium and slow pack.

The Sunderland women’s team finished second in the second division behind Heaton Harriers and they will be out to try and cling onto their promotion spot.

The event clashes with the Derwentside 10k Hell Hole race at Stanley on Sunday, 10am. Late entries are available on the day at the Louisa Centre, Front Street, Stanley DH9 OTE from 8.30am.

Around 1,300 runners descended on Kielder Water & Forest Park, Northumberland on Sunday for the Kielder Marathon and Half Marathon

Tyne Bridge Harrier Cees Van der Land won the tough marathon in 2hr.48.51. Last year’s women’s half marathon winner, Debbie Crozier, from Washington, was the first female across the line 3hr.19.25.

The Over-50, who finished 13th overall, said: “I am so pleased that I have done better than I did last year. I won the half marathon then and I knew I couldn’t do a faster time in that race so wanted something to strive for.”

Nicola Woodward finished third woman in the Kielder half marathon, less than 24 hours after competing in the North Eastern Harrier League at Wrekenton.

The Sunderland Harrier, who was second team counter at Wrekenton in 30th, clocked 1.37.21 at Kielder. The previous week she won the North East Masters Over-35 pentathlon title.

Sunderland Stroller John Cook was ninth in the Kielder marathon (3.12.34) and Sunderland Harrier Martin Blenkinsopp was 11th (3.13.32).