Young runners will set the pace

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YOUNGSTERS will get the Run Sunderland weekend under way on Saturday with three events tailored to their age groups.

The Sunderland Echo Junior Run will be the curtain-raiser for the Marathon of the North and the Sunderland City 10K on Sunday.

The Junior Run is for youngsters aged between 11 and 15 years old on the day of the race. Everyone who completes the run will receive a T-shirt and medal, as well as a race goody bag.

The event starts alongside the Stadium of Light on the Saturday afternoon and will come after the Sunderland Mini Run and Niall’s Miles, providing something for every member of the family.

The course is flat and loops around the stadium, the surrounding business park and finishes in front of the crowds right beside the stadium, testing out the finish gantry for the 10K and the Marathon the following morning.

The Junior Run also forms part of the Club Challenge, where a minimum of six members of the same athletic club are required to take part – one junior athlete, four 10K runners (with at least one female) and one marathon entrant.

The lowest cumulative time for the six club runners will be hailed Sunderland City Club Challenge Champions.

Sunderland Harriers will be relying on Joel Jones to get their club challenge off to a good start.

The North East cross-country representative will be one of the favourites for the race, though he will face stiff opposition from North Shields athlete Anthony Wallett, who recently clocked 34.39 for 13th place in the North Tyneside 10k.

Also in with a shout of glory is South Shields Harrier Liam Emmett. Houghton Harriers will have Lewis Thompson on the start line.

In the girls’ race, Birtley will be represented by Sophie Burnett and Olivia Batemen, Gosforth call upon Rhian Purves and Sunderland will be relying on Danielle Elliott.

There are prizes for the first three girl/boy finishers. The race will be started by Olympic gold medallist Sally Gunnell.

For children under 11 there is a Mini Run and the Sunderland Foundation Niall’s Miles. For more information on all events visit www.sunderlandin2012.co.uk.

Timetable: Sunderland in 2012 Mini Run, 3pm; Niall’s Mile, 3:45pm; Sunderland Echo Junior Run 4:30pm.

H Sunderland Harriers picked up bronze medals in the Sedgefield Harriers Neptune Relays at Hardwick Park.

Despite torrential rain, a record 64 teams competed in the multi-terrain four-stage relay, won in record time by Durham City Harriers (34.56). They beat Billingham Marsh House Harriers, who recorded 35.54.

Durham beat the previous 2009 best of 35.10 set by Sunderland Harriers, but Brian Rushworth’s 2010 course record for the 1.7- mile course remains intact (8.22).

Sunderland’s time was 36.22 and the team was Michael Barker 9.08, veteran Alan Hodgson 9.35, Steve Graham 8.52 and Craig Isherwood 8.47.

H Sunderland Harriers over-sixties Jim Wightman (21.36) and Billy Bittlestone (21.56) finished 31st and 33rd respectively in the New Marske Harriers Spring Coast 5k Road Race at Redcar.