Sunderland Harriers revive Christmas Pudding Run with sealed handicap race on Boxing Day

Sunderland Harriers are reviving their Christmas Pudding Run on Boxing Day at Silksworth Sports Complex.

Wednesday, 21st December 2016, 11:00 am
Updated Thursday, 29th December 2016, 2:02 pm
Sunderland Harriers' club president, George Cockburn, will be involved in the resurrected Christmas Pudding Run
Sunderland Harriers' club president, George Cockburn, will be involved in the resurrected Christmas Pudding Run

It is 25 years since the last Run took place, when around 100 club members took part.

The Run will take the form of a sealed handicap and will be held over the Sunderland 5k course.

The sealed handicap was a regular feature of North East road races up to and including the 1960s, before it dwindled out.

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The sealed handicap is organised so that all runners in the race, apart from the backmarkers, are given a sealed time allowance only known by the handicapper and this is then deducted from their finishing time.

This formula allows even the slowest runner in the field to come out on top when all times are finalised.

Former Silksworth butcher George Cockburn was the sponsor all those years ago and a big array of Christmas prizes were the rewards for the various winners.

The 74-year-old is renowned for the day he took on 5,000m world record holder Dave Moorcroft in a handicap one-mile race at Silksworth.

It had widespread publicity and was billed as “local butcher takes on World Record Holder”.

It attracted over 2,000 spectators to the Silksworth track in 1990.

He also founded, in 1978, the Old Pit Road Race in Silksworth, which was one of the North East’s biggest events with many internationals competing over the 20-year history of the race, before traffic problems forced its closure.

Cockburn, Harriers’ club president, will be back again on Boxing Day when he will be one of the Run officials.

He said: “I’m delighted to be involved again and see the Pudding Run back. It was a great event then and I’m sure it will be again.

“It can be a serious race for the athlete or just a bit of fun, but, in the end, it is all about enjoyment.”

The handicapper is Sunderland Harriers senior men’s captain, 24-year-old Nathan Reed, who will be busy working out the handicaps over the Christmas period.

He is still taking entries (£3) and is looking for another big field to rival those of the nineties. Email: [email protected]

The Run has already attracted a great deal of interest and some club members are having their own race within the race.

Club vice-chairman Glenn Forster, 60, has laid down the gauntlet and challenged club secretary Michael Hill, 50, and men’s team manager Albert James over the distance.

James, 47, is the man in form after clocking 23min 39sec in last Saturday’s parkrun at Silksworth.

The Boxing Day race is scheduled to start at 10.30am and the prize presentation will be in the Lakeside club after midday.

Houghton Harriers had three athletes competing in the Gateshead Indoor meeting with degrees of success.

There was a personal best for Under-15 Philippa Ellis in the 60m hurdles with a grade three performance (9.57sec).

Under-13 Lexie Ellis cleared four metres in the shot with 4.17 and Under-15 Matthew Lumb posted 8.14seconds (Grade 4 performance) in the 60m.

Sunderland Harriers’ best result came from senior woman Alix Waites. with her third place in the 60m (8.36) and Declan Murray with a win in the pole vault (3.00m) and fifth place in the 60m (7.48).

Sunderland Stroller Dawn Elliott was fourth over-55 (62.54) in the Loftus Poultry Run and Derek Wright was sixth over-60 (64.12). The race was won by Marc Scott (Richmond) in 41.39 from New Marske’s Russ Best (41.46).

Eleven club members have been nominated for Sunderland Strollers’ Stroller of the year award.

The presentation takes place at the Barnes Hotel on Tuesday, December 27.

The nominees are: Dan Anderson, Allison Bird, Jamie Collin, Alyson Dixon, Andrew Forbes, Harry Harrison, Pip McDonald, Kevin O’Neill, Chris Swales, Terry Topping and Lyne Valentine.