THE first fixture of the Start Fitness North Eastern Harrier League saw a record-breaking turn-out at East Cramlington on Saturday.
The Blyth Running Club promotion saw 1,370 athletes contest the 10 races on the programme, surpassing the previous best of 1237 set at Blaydon last season.
The senior men and women led the way with 590 and 333 finishers respectively, while the under-11s race saw another record with 159 contesting their 2k cross country race.
Sunderland Harriers senior men’s team got their season off to a steady start by finishing sixth for a middle of a table position in the first division. They were steered to the finish by two new members.
Irish student Liam Roarty led the way for the Wearsiders by finishing 18th (37.42) from the slow pack in the 9.9k handicap race.
Sunderland triathlete Michael Lavender was next home in 31st (38.12) and then came medium pack runner Michael Barker in 51st (36.41).
Fast pack man Craig Isherwood sliced through the field to make light of his five minutes handicap to finish 83rd (35.08) and he was followed by slow packers Paul Redman 90th (40.13) and John Hunt 91st (40.14).
Sunderland’s last three counters were caught up in a bizarre situation when they stopped, along with others, 50 metres before the finishing line.
Hunt said: “We all thought we had finished. Then someone shouted and we got going again. I must have lost 20 places.”
Sunderland Strollers finished eighth in division two with Tony Noble in 63rd (39.29) and medium packer Steve Rankin 83rd (37.29) finishing inside the first hundred.
The fastest runner on the course was Jonnie Taylor (Morpeth) who got through to tenth from the fast pack (31.46). Elswick’s Mark McLeod won the race from the slow pack (34.52).
In the women’s race, Durham City Harrier Rosie Smith, running from the medium pack, claimed the fastest time with her win in 24.02.
Sunderland Stroller Alyson Dixon (24.46) was the second quickest in seventh, running from the fast pack.
The Strollers finished ninth in the first division with Ashleigh Bennett 110th (28.53), Gillian Ritchie 113th (32.56) and Jill Kisler closed the scoring in 120th (33.05), in support of Dixon.
Sunderland Harriers finished an improved eighth in the second division with counters Judith Thirwell in eighth (28.46), Nicola Woodward 31st (28.59), Donna Corrigan 127th (33.20) and Kathryn Watt 180th (34.42).
Houghton Harriers’ youngsters produced some solid performances throughout the age groups.
In the under-11s Nicole Phillip was seventh and Matthew Lumb 16th. Will Bellamy was seventh under13 boy and twins Eva Hardie eighth and Lily 12th plus Lydia James 21st finished third team in the under-13girls’.
Jamie Reed finished runner-up in the under-15 boys’ and Matthew Phillips was eighth. Under-17 Alex Brown was third in his race.
Sunderland Harriers’ finished second team in the under-17 competition with Jack Smith eighth, Chris Bell 14th and Sam Harris 17th. Jessica Fox was fourth fastest fast pack runner in the under/17-20 race, finishing 18th.