Sunderland Harriers secure golden double in Cathedral Cross Country Relays

Sunderland Harrier Len Christopher produced an impressive run
Sunderland Harrier Len Christopher produced an impressive run
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Sunderland Harriers had much to cheer in the popular Durham City Harriers’ Cathedral Cross Country Relays at Maiden Castle yesterday.

The three events saw the Wearsiders pick up two gold and two silver medals in the senior and veterans’ relays.

The event, which was switched to Maiden Castle from the Racecourse at the last minute, saw more than 200 teams contest the three-leg relays over two laps of 1500m.

The two golds came in the the veteran men’s relay, where the over-35 team scored an emphatic victory in winning by more than two minutes.

Ian Dixo set them on their way, going through halfway (4.45) with a lengthy lead and, although slowing over the second circuit, still clocked the second fastest time of the day with 9min 53sec.

The quickest was his clubmate Kevin Jeffress, who extended the lead with his superb stint of 9.39 on leg two. Anchorman Steve McMahon, with the equal fourth best time overall, ensured victory with his performance of 10.17 for a total time of 29.49.

Tyne Bridge were second (32.02) and Crook third (32.27).

Mark Anderson clocked the same time as McMahon (10.17) in the Sunderland Strollers team that finished 20th.

The over-65 team were the other Sunderland Harriers winners, courtesy of David White (13.19), Billy Bittlestone (14.00) and 70-year-old Len Christopher, the 2002 over-55 London Marathon winner, (14.55).

There was silver for the over-45 team who finished eighth overall, with Tim Field only two seconds off the fastest overall time with his clocking of 10.32, backed by Paul Redman (11.21) and Alan Knebel (11.36).

Sunderland Stroller Ken Maynard was the fastest over-55 in 11.23.

Sunderland over-35 veteran women took second place (37.04) behind winners North Shields (36.35), who finished three places ahead of Sunderland in sixth in the relay that included all age groups.

The Sunderland team was Nicola Woodward (12.01), Colleen Compson (12.36) and Vicky Younger (12.27).

Sunderland’s senior women’s team ended just one place ahead of their veterans in eighth after being fourth on the penultimate leg.

Alice Smith finished in fifth with 11.32, teenager Jess Fox (11.58) moved up one place with 11.58 before Lauren Flaxen made her race debut. Racing without spikes over the sticky surface, she managed to keep her feet to finish in a creditable 13.27.

Morpeth were good winners (35.24) from Gateshead (35.33) and Jarrow and Hebburn (35.46).

Gosforth’s Helen Warburton was the fastest runner on the course (10.42), four seconds ahead of Morpeth’s Josie Cram.

The Sunderland senior men’s team were run out of the medals in their event, finishing in sixth (29.44).

Michael Barker (9.55), Kevin Calvert (9.33) and Jack Talentire (10.16) were the athletes donning the royal blue vests.

The race was dominated by Durham University, with Cameron Field (9.06) – the joint fastest with Morpeth’s Nick Swinburn – setting up the students for a comfortable win.

The other two team members were James Stockings (9.23) and Ross Tennant (9.34). Morpeth filled the next two positions and also fifth place.

The Sunderland B team finished 13th, thanks toSteven Duffy (10.35), Sean Mackie (10.34) and Jake Jenson (10.21).

Houghton finished 15th, courtesy of Lee Dover (10.25), Rory Graham (10.59) and Thomas Grey (11.03).