Sunderland Harriers’ medal boost

BIRTLEY WINNERS: Pictured with Steve Cram (left to right) are Sophie Burnett, Philippa Chambers and Olivia Bateman.
BIRTLEY WINNERS: Pictured with Steve Cram (left to right) are Sophie Burnett, Philippa Chambers and Olivia Bateman.
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SUNDERLAND Harriers were back in the team medals with a workmanlike performance in the senior men’s North Eastern Counties Cross Country Championships at Newcastle’s Town Moor on Saturday.

SUNDERLAND Harriers were back in the team medals with a workmanlike performance in the senior men’s North Eastern Counties Cross Country Championships at Newcastle’s Town Moor on Saturday.

The Wearsiders ended a barren few years to capture the bronze medals with a team, missing a couple of their top men, who had to run right up to form to have any chance of getting into the frame.

They did not disappoint, placing four men in the first 22 and six inside 38 in a record field of 355 finishers to scrape ahead of fourth-placed Gateshead by just six points.

Masters international Kevin Jeffress led the way in 12th (41min 38sec), Craig Isherwood was 13th (41.55), Steve Potts 19th (42.49), Nathan Reed finished 22nd (43.02), Michael Barker was 33rd (44.24) and Noel Hitchcock closed the scoring in 38th (44.41).

Morpeth, who had the first three runners home in Johnny Taylor (38.03), Nick Swinburn (38.08) and Lewis Timmins (38.40), retained their team title over the challenging 12k course.

Durham, who were steered home by last year’s champion, Dan Garbutt, in fourth (38.44), and Dan Jenkin in sixth (39.40) were second team.

Durham City Harrier Rosie Smith retained her title in the senior women’s race (29.23), scoring an emphatic victory over Morpeth’s Emma Holt (30.35), with Jarrow and Hebburn’s Alex Sneddon third (31.09).

Sneddon led her club to the team title with support from Maxine Czarnecka 10th (32.26) and Elaine Leslie 11th (32.51). Durham finished runners-up, with Aiveen Smith 12th and Emma Bain 13th, backing Smith.

Sunderland’s Sophie Burnett, competing for Birtley, was a double gold medallist. The 16-year-old from Hylton Lane stormed to victory in the Under-17s and also led her club to the team title. She won in 22 minutes exactly to beat clubmate Olivia Bateman by 19 seconds. Philippa Chambers was Birtley’s final counter in seventh (22.52).

Steve Cram, who was at the event to support his daughter Josie, who was ninth in the senior women’s race, presented the team trophy to Birtley.

Houghton Harriers were also in the medals, finishing second team, five points behind Darlington in the Under-13 girls’ race. Twins’ Eva and Lily Hardie finished fourth and eighth respectively, with Anna Pigford in 12th.

They also placed Henry Johnson fourth in the Under-13 boys’ race and Alex Brown finished fifth in the U17s.