Sunderland Strollers edge out Harriers to finish second
Elswick Harriers received a bumper entry for their revised Norman Woodcock Road Relay on the ambulance track around the race course at Gosforth Park on Saturday.
The three stage-relay catered for all age groups and attracted 112 teams to the tight circuit over the short distance of just over 1.6 miles.
Teams had to be of the same age group and one of the team had to be a woman.
And it was Sunderland Harriers and Sunderland Strollers, along with Morpeth Harriers, who were all involved in the chase for first place entering the final leg.
Only four seconds covered the three clubs, with Sunderland Harrier Alice Smith just holding onto first place with her second fastest overall leg of 9.19. Stroller Alyson Dixon had a pulsating run to charge through the field from 14th to second, only three seconds behind the Harriers. Her time of 8.48 was easily the fastest women’s time.
But it would be Morpeth who upset the applecart by quickly making up their four seconds deficit to sail into the lead and win through Tom Straughan’s superb leg of 7.58. He was the quickest of the day and the only runner to dip under eight minutes.
The Strollers won the battle of Wearside through a good leg from Mark Anderson (8.19) who had closed down and headed Sunderland Harrier Ian Ritchie (8.27).
Morpeth finished on 25.35, the Strollers clocked 25.55 and the Harriers finished on 26.00.
Sunderland Harriers’ first leg runner was Kevin Jeffress, who was fourth on the first leg with his stint of 8.14 which was the sixth best time overall. Stroller Chris Dwyer recorded 8.48. Morpeth led through Alastair Douglas’ clocking of 8.05.
Over-55 Guy Bracken, of North Shields Poly, the World Masters’ 1500m champion, recorded an astonishing 8.10 for the third best time of the day.
The Sunderland Harriers B team finished in fifth place, largely due to excellent runs from Nathan Reed and Sarah Knight.
Reed whose year has been beset by injury finished second on the first leg with the day’s fourth quickest time (8.12).
Ironically, if he had been in the Sunderland A team, they would have finished runners-up. Knight, 17, surprised many by claiming the fourth best women’s time of the day (9.35). The other team member was Graeme Pullan (9.06).
Sunderland Harriers’ Over-40 team took third place in an overall 10th position (27.54) behind Gosforth fourth (26.38) and North Shields ninth (27.20).
The team was Rob Walker (8.22), Judith Thirlwell (11.08) and Steve McMahon (8.24).
And to round off a good competitive day for the Harriers’ the senior team of Steve Rankin (8.32), Paul McLachlan (9.35) and Eve Quinn (10.20), finished 15th (28.27).
Washington Running club had 10 teams entered and their first team finished in 22nd withTim Jones (8.53), Julie Ann Castling (10.54) and Craig Smith (9.19).
The Strollers Over 60 team finished 62nd (33.20) through Malcolm Cox (10.51) Lyne Valentine (11.21) and Bill Kirk (11.08), to win their age category.