Success for Sunderland Strollers' men and women's teams at Hexham 10km
Sunderland Strollers turned out in force in the Run Northumberland Hexham 10km Road Race on Sunday.
And they were rewarded by winning both the men’s and women’s team races, with their star athlete Alyson Dixon breaking the women’s course record.
The Olympian was having her first race since dropping out of the Chicago Marathon on October 7 and she proved she is on the way back to full fitness.
She recorded 36 minutes exactly to finish sixth overall in a field of 440.Her best time stands at 32.17 from 2015.
Now at the age 40, she is still confident that she can turn in a good marathon performance over the classic distance.
Dixon was a long way in front of the second woman - Lisa Tang of Tynedale Harriers, who clocked 39.40.
In third place was Dixon’s clubmate Wendy Chapman, the Kielder Marathon women’s winner, who recorded 40.01.
The club’s third counter was Gillian Ritchie, who was the ninth woman in 43.14. Stroller Lyne Valentine was the first Over-60 in 45.41.
The overall race winner was unattached Sunderland athlete, Liam Taylor, who had a dong-dong battle with South Shields athlete Luke Adams.
The Springwell man also broke the course record with his performance of 33.39, with Adams second in 33.54.
There was another unattached runner in third place in Sparrow Morley (34.09).
The Strollers’ winning team was Andrew Forbes in seventh (36.28), Jamie Collin eighth (36.35) and Chris Dwyer ninth (36.53).
Ritchie Gerry was the first Over-50 in 14th (38.57) and his Strollers club mates filled the next two places in that category, with Ed Swinney 17th (39.23) and William Bowman 27th (40.38).
The Sunderland Strollers Urban Ultra will be held on Saturday. This is a 40 mile race (or 2-person relay) which will start and finish at the Ashbrooke Sports Club.
At the halfway stage of the North Eastern Harrier League season, Sunderland Harriers’ women have moved from second bottom of the First Division to fourth off top with 16 points. Ahead of them are: North Shields on eight points, Gateshead with 10, and Heaton with 14.
They finished second at Gosforth Park on Saturday, only three points behind winners Gateshead.
The race day did not go without incident as a car with five of the team travelling in was held up through an accident on the A1. They had to run to the start and were pinning numbers on their vest as the race got underway.
But they soon settled down into the pace and got on with the job of achieving a performance that saw the club’s spirits lifted.
Amy Callaghan led the club home in the handicap 8km cross country race, running from the slow pack and finishing eighth in 28.59.
New members Nicola Hufton finished 10th (29.13) and Paula Graham was 29th (30.48).
The final counter was fast-pack runner Alice Smith, with the fourth fastest time of the day (25.57) in finishing 36th. The fastest runner on the course was race winner Dannielle Hodgkinson, running from the medium pack (23.36).
The senior men again finished among the tail-enders in their First Division competition that saw them finish seventh team and dropping from third to sixth in the league. There was a record field of 623.
It was a remarkable run from 60-year-old Paul Merrison that got the team scoring off to a great start.
He celebrated his call-up for England for the British and Irish Masters’ Cross Country Championships next month by finishing 13th (37.21).
Comeback man Steve Rankin was next in 69th (39.11), Andy Powell, running from the fast pack finished 83rd (34.29), Paul Redman took 107th (39.48), Keith Mwashita - a new man from Zimbabwe - was 112th (39.52) and Dale Wilkinson closed the scoring from the medium pack in (37.26).
Houghton Harriers had some good performances from their young athletes.
Under-17 Anna Pigford was third, Lydia James fourth and Eva Hardie 13th for second team.
The Under-17 Men’s team also finished runners-up with Will Bellamy in seventh, Samuel Gibson 16th and Izaak Taylor 26th. Brandon Pye was sixth Under-13 and Amy Leonard was fifth Under-15.
This is a busy weekend for competition with the National Cross Country Relays at Mansfield on Saturday, the 22nd Gibside Fruit Bowl Trail race on Sunday, plus the Leeds Abbey Dash 10km Road Race and the Derwentwater 10m.