WEYNAY GHEBRESILASIE became the first man for a decade to win the North Eastern Harrier League senior men’s race from the fast pack, at Alnwick on Saturday.
The 18-year-old Sunderland Harrier was giving away up to a five-minute start in the 10k handicap race and stole the show by his scintillating performance in a field of nearly 400.
The Eritrean Olympian cruised into the first 100 on the first lap before surging into the top 10 after two laps.
He then entered the last lap 90 seconds behind the leader, Phillip Caldwell of Morpeth.
Ghebresilasie, who had made a late decision to compete following his below-par run in last week’s National Cross-Country Championships in Sunderland, bounced back to form to win by 47 seconds from slow pack man Caldwell, with easily the day’s fastest time of 33min 24sec.
His performance can be measured against that of fellow fast pack runner Durham City Harrier Dan Jenkin, who finished an impressive 35th in the senior men’s race in the National Cross-Country. He was one minute 23 seconds behind Ghebresilasie in fourth place with the day’s second fastest time.
The last man to win from the fast pack was also a Sunderland Harrier – Brian Rushworth, who won at Prudhoe in 2003.
Ghebresilasie also led Sunderland to a superb team win in the First Division over National champions Morpeth, winning by 28 points.
They will now enter the final league fixture at Prudhoe a week on Saturday in a dramatic shoot-out with Morpeth and Gateshead Harriers for the league title, with only three points covering the clubs.
Sunderland’s other team counters at Aln-wick, with their actual times, were: Mark Hood with the third best overall time in sixth (35.14), Nathan Reed seventh (37.48), Paul Redman ninth (41.04), Michael Barker 16th (38.47) and Ian Dixon 32nd (39.45).
Sunderland Strollers are back in the relegation mire after finishing 10th and last.
Sunderland Harrier Michelle Avery finished second in the senior women’s race, with the day’s sixth fastest time of 29.12. Elswick’s Alison Dargie, in eighth, was the fastest with 28.03.
Sunderland Strollers finished seventh in the First Division with Judith Shotton 29th, Jill Kisler 29th and Jenna Maynard 59th.
Sunderland’s Under-17/20 team beat Gateshead by two points to improve their position at the top of the league. They placed Meriel Smithson fourth, Alex Pearson sixth and Amy Coulson ninth.
Cameron Vincent, who made his debut for Sunderland Harriers after being encouraged by his sports teacher at Farringdon Community Sports College to join the club, triumphed in the under-13s race. Jessica Fox was fifth under-15.
Houghton Harriers tasted success through Alex Brown’s third place in the under-15 boys’ and second team in the under-13 girls’ with Grace Oliver seventh, Emily Heron 15th and Lucy Brown 17th.
In the under-11s, the Hardie twins, Lily and Eva, were second and third respectively and Henry Johnson was fourth boy.