SUNDERLAND Strollers had mixed results in the third fixture of the Start Fitness North East Harrier League at Wallington Hall on Saturday.
International marathon runner Alyson Dixon led the women’s team into third place in the First Division, but their senior men’s squad slumped to their worst performance of the season.
Dixon, running from the fast pack in the handicap race and giving away up to four minutes start to the slower runners, stormed through the 250-plus field to win the event in the day’s fastest time of 26min 10sec.
The Silksworth runner finished one minute and 49 seconds ahead of the second quickest runner on the National Trust property course – Morpeth’s Emma Holt, who finished fifth.
Dixon’s performance ensured the Strollers moved from fourth to joint third, tying with Tyne Bridge Harriers in the First Division at the halfway stage of the season with 13 points. Gateshead and North Shields are joint top on seven points.
In support of Dixon for the Strollers in the three-to-count team race was Ashleigh Ewen in 32nd, running from the slow pack, in an actual time of 33.15 and Ashleigh Thorpe in 46th, running from the medium pack (31.29), for the near four-mile course.
The Strollers’ senior men found the tough 6.4-mile course, designed by hosts Morpeth Harriers, hard going, finishing 10th and last in the First Division.
They are now sitting at the bottom of the league. Liam Taylor was the only Stroller to finish inside the first 100. He ran from the medium pack and finished 70th in 40.12.
Sunderland Harriers finished sixth team but dropped to seventh in the league, through Gateshead’s win, coming after they finished last at Jarrow last week.
Sunderland’s first man home was Paul Merrison, a 55-year-old, enjoying his five minute start from the fast pack to finish tenth (40.38). Fast pack man Oliver James was Sunderland’s next counter in 28th with the day’s ninth fastest time of 36.55.
He was three minutes slower than the best time overall set by Morpeth’s Richard Morrell, who sliced through the field for an outstanding sixth place. The race winner was Shildon’s Cameron Boyek with an actual time of 34.45.
Sunderland’s other counters with their actual times were: 73rd Nathan Reed (37.42), 78th Matthew Fearn (42.05), Graham Lancaster 87th (39.41) and Paul Redman113th (41.20).
Ben Craig won Sunderland’s first medal of the season with second place in the under-17s race.
While Houghton Harriers are struggling in the senior men’s and women’s leagues, the club’s youngsters’ are showing good form. Lily Hardie, in third place, steered the the club’s under-13 team into second place, with support from her twin sister, Eva, in 13th and Jennifer Reed 17th.
Will Bellamy was third in the under-11s race and Jamie Reed finished fifth in the under-13 race
Birtley won the under-17/20 women’s race with Philippa Chambers first (12.51), Sophie Burnett second (13.12) and Danielle Elliott fourth (14.08).
Durham’s Chloe Price was third and fastest on the course (12.40).