Sunderland Harriers secure hat-trick of titles in North East Masters' Road Relay Championship
Sunderland Harriers came away from the North East Masters' Road Relay Championships at Hebburn with three team gold medals.
The Wearsiders won both headline Over-35 events and added the Over-45 men’s team championship for good measure.
The Sunderland women got the night off to a good start with an emphatic win over Morpeth Harriers, beating the Northumberland club by 73 seconds in the three-stage relay.
Nikki Woodward started off for the city club and she led throughout the two-lap leg, finishing 21 seconds ahead of Wallsend’s Carla Maley, to get the team off to a great start with her 11min 31sec stint.
Vicky Haswell then consolidated that position with her solid run of 12.05 before Alice Smith clocked the fastest time of the day (11.26) to ensure a first ever win for the Harriers.
Smith was just one second ahead of Morpeth’s Gemma Floyd on the fastest times table.
Woodward was the third quickest and Haswell sixth best to highlight the performances of the team with 101 athletes competing.
The Sunderland B team also ran well for seventh place, thanks to Coleen Compson (13.15), Judith Thirlwell (13.54) and Vikki Cotton (12.43).
The Over-35 men were up next and an expected double was now on the cards, with a strong Sunderland team turning out.
Again, the team led from the start and, at the finish, they headed Morpeth to win by 45 seconds for another resounding win.
The team of Robert Walker (9.54), Steve McMahon (9.47) and Ian Dixon (9.56) all graced the fastest laps overall charts to signify the quality of their performances.
The fastest time was achieved by Morpeth’s Chris Smith on 9.36, followed by McMahon.
Walker was fourth and Dixon came fifth quickest.
The Sunderland Over-45 team had to work hard for their win, not heading their relay until the final leg.
Over-50 Tim Field did the business in passing North Shields to claim another win for the Silksworth-based club.
Paul Blakey (10.42) and Michael Thompson (10.43) had kept Sunderland in touch with the leaders over the first two legs before Field pulled out a 10.45 stage to overtake John Batey (11.02) to claim a third club win.
North Shields athlete Guy Bracken, the national winner of the annual masters’ award for the best performances over all disciplines throughout the year, was the fastest of the day (10.12).
Houghton Harriers finished fifth, courtesy of Steve Johnson (11.07), Alan Foster (11.36) and Matty Tomlinson (11.38).
Their B team was not far behind, coming home in seventh place, through Shaun Kerry (11.30), Dave Coulson (12.10), and Dave Gribben (11.52).
Sunderland missed out on medals in the Over-65 race when team manager Eddie Maddison put himself in the B team.
If he had been in the A team, the Harriers would have won team bronze through his 15.02 leg.
Houghton took advantage to win their first ever medals, finishing in third place, thanks to Ian Morgan (14.36) Steve Scott (15.44) and Michael Dickinson (14.40).