Sunderland Harriers scored a glorious silver double in the British Masters’ Cross Country Relay Championships at Long Eaton, Derbyshire on Saturday.
The Over-35 Men’s and Women’s teams ran up to form to finish second in both highly competitive events.
The men’s team, which competed over five legs, had one 50-year-old, one 45-year-old and two 40-year-olds in the team. Ironically, it was 39-year-old Kevin Jeffress that took the Wearsiders into the lead on the third leg.
That came after Ian Dixon had opened with the club’s fastest leg and the eighth best overall (9.45) to finish third.
Rob Walker was next off and he dropped one place with his effort of 10.03 before Jeffress, the North East Masters’ Cross Country champion took over.
His leg of 9.52 claimed the Seaham man the joint 12th quickest time of the day.
It was another Seaham resident, Micky Thompson, the oldest in the team at the age of 50, who dropped to fourth on the penultimate leg with his solid run of 10.21.
Now it was left to Steve McMahon to do the business and get Sunderland back into a medal position on the final stage.
He set off full of intent and he was soon closing down on Charnwood and Leicester Coritanian. And at the finish there was just Notts AC left ahead of him. He had steamed round his lap in 9.55.
Notts won in 49.30 with Sunderland second on 49.56 and Leicester third (50.07). Leeds were fourth (50.18), Charnwood fifth (50.21) and Salford sixth (51.03). The fastest lap was set by Alastair Watson of Notts AC 9.32.
The Sunderland women’s team improved on their third place of last year with all three athletes beating their times of 2017.
Stalwart Vicky Haswell said: “What a brilliant result for both teams! Over the moon in cold and windy conditions to knock 46secs off last year’s time and be ninth quickest overall.
“Finally, something seems to have clicked.”
Jacqueline Etheringon started the medal charge in second place with the club’s fastest time of 11.40. Vale Royal led the field, a position they maintained to the finish.
With superb performances from Haswell (12.03) and Nikki Woodward 12.05, the Wearsiders finished in an isolated runners-up position.
Vale Royal were emphatic winners in 33.29, Sunderland stopped the clock on 35.48 and Derby were third (36.48).
Mansfield finished fourth (37.52), Cheadle fifth (38.02) and Notts sixth (38.33). The fastest runner overall was Derby’s Lisa Palmer with 10.38.
Sunderland had Etherington sixth fastest, Haswell ninth and Woodward 11th.