Sunderland impress in championships

OFF THE GO: The senior men set off on Saturday
OFF THE GO: The senior men set off on Saturday
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SUNDERLAND Harriers had much to be enthused about in the Royal Signals and North East Road Relay Championships at Hetton Lyons Country Park on Saturday.

The Wearsiders placed two teams in the top 10 in the senior men’s relay.

Their veteran over-50 team finished second in their event and the over-40s picked up bronze.

Team manager Albert James said: “It was a good day with a record 56 athletes representing the club.

“We were rewarded with two sets of medals and the senior men, although missing out on bronze in fourth place, placed their B team in ninth to show strength in depth.”

The senior men’s A team were tipped for medals but there were fewer than expected athletes close to the 11-minute benchmark to mount a serious challenge.

Nathan Reed realised his potential by dipping below the barrier for the first time on the opening leg, finishing sixth with his 10.58 clocking for the ninth best time of the day.

Liam Roarty suffered his first dip in form following his arrival from Southern Ireland to record the team’s slowest time of 12.12, although he did pass Durham to move up one place to fifth.

Tony Noble (11.51), a late replacement for an injured Kevin Jeffress, slipped to seventh before Craig Isherwood (11.27) climbed to fifth. Steve Rankin (11.21) lifted the royal blue vests to fourth with anchorman David “Sparrow’’ Morley maintaining that spot with his stint of 11.42 for the 2.2 mile course.

Morpeth took three seconds off New Marske’s course record with their winning time of 65.24. Gateshead were second (68.09), Tyne Bridge finished third (68.45) and Sunderland fourth (69.31). Morpeth’s Lewis Timmins was the fastest runner overall (10.33).

The Sunderland B team clocked 71.42 in ninth with the team of Steve Potts (11.54), Ian Dixon (11.53), Steve McMahon (11.48), Michael Barker (11.59), Andy Powell (11.55) and Michael Laws 12.12.

Sunderland’s over-40 team won bronze behind winners Tyne Bridge and Morpeth.

The Sunderland team was Tim Field (12.23), Steven Gordon (12.43), Paul Blakey (12.10), Michael Thompson (12.38), Steve Graham (13.21) and Alan Knebel (12.48).

North Shields, who had Guy Bracken, at the age of 53, smashing his own record with his remarkable run of 11.09 in the over-50s race, beat Sunderland into second place. The four-man Sunderland team was Paul Merrison with the second fastest overall time (12.43), Paul Redman (13.17), Peter Richardson ((14.17) and George Harden (13.14).

Sunderland Strollers were fourth with Malcolm Cox (14.29), Michael Armstrong (13.44), Kevin Blyth (13.57) and Gavin Sword (13.27).

The women’s race saw Olympian Laura Weightman in action for Morpeth with her coach Steve Cram supporting from the sidelines. She recorded 11.36 to finish 14 seconds outside her own course record.

The race was won by a young Birtley team that saw Lydia Turner clocking the second best time of the day (12.05).

Sunderland Harriers finished 16th with Jessica Fox (14.37), Michelle Avery (14.39), Judith Thirwell (14.54) and Colleen Compson (16.01).

Sunderland Strollers were 19th with Ashleigh Ewing (14.55), Vanessa Hogan (15.58), Gillian Ritchie (15.34) and Vicki Booth (14.54).