Sunderland Harriers are in danger of relegation, for the first time in the club’s history, after another dismal showing in the senior men’s North Eastern Harrier League First Division at Druridge Bay yesterday.
In the second fixture of the season, they finished bottom of the 10-strong league, just a week after they finished ninth at Wrekenton.
The relegation threat comes just six months after they won the First Division championship for the first time since 2010.
The Wearsiders have the proud accolade of being the only North East club who have never been out of the top division.
Now, with four fixtures remaining, they face a mountain to climb, as they are anchored firmly at the bottom of the table.
Ironically, they got off to a good start at Druridge Bay in the handicap race, with medium pack man Barry Maskell finishing ninth, slow packer Craig Harriman 22nd and fast pack man Ian Dixon 35th.
But the remaining three counters were way back and the team scored a massive 335 points for last place. The race was won by Houghton Harriers’ 17-year-old Alex Brown, who led his club to Third Division victory.
Sunderland Strollers won the Second Division match – their counters were Chris Dwyer in 13th, Mark Hinder 44th, Ritchie Gerry 53rd, Andy Duke 72nd, Mark Anderson 57th and Anthony Wilton 64th.
Sunderland Stroller Alyson Dixon made her season’s cross country debut in the women’s race and the Rio marathon Olympian clocked the fastest time of the day in the handicap race.
She finished third overall in 24min 16sec to finish 26 seconds ahead of the next quickest runner, Morpeth’s Emma Holt, who finished fifth, also from the fast pack.
The Strollers finished sixth team in Division Two and Sunderland Harriers, led by improving Rachael Moore in 30th, were seventh.
Sunderland Harriers filled third, fourth and fifth places in the under-17 and under-20 race to win the team competition. Jess Fox was the fastest under-20 in 18.35, under-17 Sarah Knight finished fourth and Eve Quinn was fifth.
Houghton’s Henry Johnson finished second in the second fastest time overall (11.14) in the under-15 boys’ handicap race behind Morpeth’s Daniel Dixon (10.43)
Houghton Harriers won the under-13 girls’ team race, with Nicole Phillips sixth, Neve Hall eighth and Amy Leonard 13th.
The club were second in the under-15 girls race, through Lydia James in eighth, Eva Hardie 16th and Anna Pigford 18th.