Sunderland looking for medals at Darlington

CLEAR WIN: Gavin Massingham
CLEAR WIN: Gavin Massingham
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SUNDERLAND Harriers have a number of athletes in contention for medals in the North East Masters’ Cross Country Championship at Darlington on Saturday.

They are well represented in the two events on the programme, ranging from over-35s to over 65s for both male and female athletes.

England masters international Kevin Jeffress heads the entries in the 35-39 age group, who race over the 8k distance.

His rivals include clubmate Steve McMahon, Elswick’s Mark McLeod and Low Fell’s John Archer.

In the three-to-count team race, which is decided in 10-year age group bands, up to the age of 44, Tony Allinson could be Sunderland’s vital third counter.

Sunderland’s inform Tim Field goes in the over 45s and faces Blackhill’s North East Cross Country team manager Stewy Bell.

Backing Field in the team are Alan Knebel, Dave Savage and Dean Phillips.

Paul Merrison, another masters’ international, is a clear favourite for the over-55 title and joining him will be Peter Richardson and Fred Judson for the team contest.

Richardson is one of the top runners in the over-60 competition.

Nicola Woodward and Vikki Cotton chase medals in the over-35 women’s race.

Sunderland Strollers also have a good entry and their main hopes of medals lie with Ken Maynard, Kevin Blyth, Malcolm Cox in the over-55s.

While Declan Munnelly, Paul Riddell and Paul Lewins, compete in the 35-44 team race and Mike Hobson, David Groark and Chris Watson race in the over 45-54 category.

Timetable Race 1-1.30am Women and men over-65 6k (three laps). Race 2-12.15pm Men 35-64 8k (four laps).

The championships take place at Education Village, Salters Lane, Darlington DL2 2AN.

Sunderland Harrier Gavin Massingham, with a best of 1.48.63 for 800m and 3.42.6 (1500m), now living in Hong Kong and having his first race since 2011, won the The Clear Water Bay Chase 10k in 34.47.

Sunderland brothers Patrick and Jack Martin, competing for Stockport in the European Clubs Cross Country Championships in Spain, were the first two runners home for the club that finished sixth in the team competition.

Patrick was 11th (31.51) and Jack 19th (32.13) in the race won by Othmane El Goumri (France) 31.09.

Sunderland Strollers attracted 51 prospective members for week one of their Beginners Group – 16 men and 35 women.

The course, supported by 20 experienced Strollers, runs for 12 weeks and after the first session, organiser Julie Cook was delighted to report that nearly half have already committed to the full 12 weeks.

The winners of the Stroller of the month award has been jointly won by Damian Kirby and Alastair Cairne-Coates.

They are relative newcomers to the club but have made a valuable contribution through their combined leadership of the slow-medium pack runners.

Houghton Harriers Lily Hardie and Savannah Lloyd have been selected for the Tyne & Wear team for the Regional Sportshall final in Hull on Sunday.

The Inter County Schools Cross Country takes place at Temple Park, South Shields, on Saturday (12.30pm).

Following the event teams of eight will be selected for the Durham County team for the English Schools’ Cross Country Championships at Blackburn on Saturday, March 14.