Sunderland veterans secure home advantage

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SUNDERLAND Harriers came close to making it a golden double in the 29th running of their Farringdon Cross Country Relays on Saturday.

The Wearsiders finished second in the senior men’s relay over four legs of 3,000m and won the veterans’ event comfortably.

It was new club Tyne Bridge Harriers that upset the applecart, stopping the city club in their tracks over the anchor stage.

Veteran Tim Field (9.50), drafted into the weakened Sunderland team at the last minute, was no match for the younger legs of Tony Carter (9.21) on the last leg, steering the Newcastle club to their first ever team win.

It was Sunderland Strollers who led on the first leg after a tremendous run from Liam Taylor who clocked the fastest time of the day (8.55). The Harriers’ were down in fourth place after Jake Archer clocked 9.35 for his stint. But much improved Kevin Calvert closed down the teams ahead of him to take the lead for the hosts with his superb lap of 9.02 on leg two for the second fastest time of the day.

Noel Hitchcock held onto to first place with his run of 10.26 before sending Field on his way. Tyne Bridge stopped the clock on 38.32 with Sunderland 21 seconds behind for the silver medals.

Sunderland Strollers surprised many with their third place and following on from the excellent start from Taylor were Michael McArdle (10.03), Steven McMahon (10.34) and Graeme Thorpe (10.21). Houghton Harriers were 12th with Thomas Grey (10.43), Shawn McGarth (11.20), Steve Pearson (12.47) and Alan Forster (11.08).

Sunderland Harriers veterans made no mistake in their quest for honours, winning their race, which was held in conjunction with the senior men, by 77 seconds from Tyne Bridge.

After Brian Bewick finished second with the third quickest time overall (9.47) to Tyne Bridge athlete Kenny MacPherson (9.43), the Wearsiders were never headed. Brian Rushworth sailed to the fastest circuit of the day (9.08) to take the lead for the royal blue vests on the second leg before Paul Redman (10.07) and Paul Merrison (10.14) finished off the task. Sunderland clocked 39.16 to finish ahead of Tyne Bridge (40.33) and Elswick (41.58).

Sunderland Strollers were fifth (43.53) through Brian Carroll (11.15), Steve Tinwell (11.22), Ken Maynard (10.27) and Trevor Allsop (10.49). Sunderland Harriers B team were sixth (45.13) with Fred Judson (11.44), Alan Hodgson (10.33), Paul Cooper (10.39) and Dean Phillips (12.17).

Meanwhile, Durham City’s Rosie Smith made light work of her women’s victory over the same distance as the men, winning by 24 seconds. She clocked 9.46 to add to her 10k victory at Middlesbrough last week in a personal best of 34.41, plus 10k wins at Raby Castle, Dalton, North Tyneside, Darlington and Billingham this season. Wallsend’s Danielle Hodgkinson was second (10.10) and Morpeth’s Maxine Czarnecka was third (10.19).

Sunderland Harrier Michelle Holt finished an isolated fourth in 10.53, while her 17-year-old debut clubmate Alison Seadon was 11th (12.03) followed by Caroline Kirsop in 23rd (13.05). Houghton had Lyndsey Page 16th (12.36) and Kelly Bentley 21st (12.59).

SUNDERLAND Harriers youngsters suffered probably their worst ever performances since the event started in 1983.

Only two bronze medals came their way from the eight events on the programme.

Amy Coulson was third (11.43) in the under-17s won by Durham’s Chloe Price (10.55). while Owen Jackson was third in the under-11 boys’.

They also had decent runs from Patrick Crombie in tenth in the under-17s and Laura Hand with tenth in the under-13 girls’ event.

Houghton Harriers were out in force with their best runs coming from Eva Hardie fourth under-11 girl, Alex Brown fifth under-13 boy and Eleanor Daglish eighth under-15.