SUNDERLAND Harriers go into tonight’s North East Masters’ Road Relay Championships at Hebburn, with high hopes of medal winning performances.
The Wearsiders have strong teams entered in the men’s 45-54, 55-64 and over-65 events at Bedewell Park.
Captain Rob Rush said: “Each team has a realistic chance of coming away with medals. And I wouldn’t be surprised if it included some golds.’’
The over-45 team defend their title and again start as one of the favourites, as it includes 51-year-old Brian Rushworth, who clocked the second fastest time in the Elswick Good Friday Road Relay. He was competing against athletes from the age of 35 to put his star studded performance into perspective.
Rushworth, who has dominated North East veterans’ endurance running since he turned 40, has won five national veterans cross country championships.
Joining him in the team will be Tim Field, who has had a quiet winter but showed good form in the North East Harrier League and had a good run in the North East Road Relay Championship at Hetton.
Paul Redman is the third man of the team and he competes after just failing to beat the 2hr 50min mark in the London marathon nearly three weeks ago.
Last year’s team was Tim Field (9.13), Rushworth (8.56) and Paul Merrison (9.40).
Rush has received a blow to his selection of the over-055 team. Pennywell window cleaner Tom Campion has failed a fitness test after turning over an ankle while out training.
His replacement is Tony Thompson who has recently returned to the sport after a long absence. He joins the North East’s leading over-55 Paul Merrison and top over-60 Peter Richardson in a useful squad.
The golden oldies over-65 team includes 2002 over-55 London marathon gold medallist Len Christopher and Great North Run ever present Eddie Maddison.
They will be joined by former Silksworth newsagent Jim Wightman, who will be having his first race since 2012 where he clocked 21.22 in the Sunderland 5k.
Timetable: 6.30 – Women and over-65 men. 715 – Men 35-64. Awards will be made to the first three teams in each age group.
The race headquarters is at Jarrow and Hebburn AC’s club house at Monkton Stadium, Jarrow. Both races are for teams of three, each runner completing two laps of 1.5k approx. Parking is at Monkton Stadium.
H Sunderland Harrier Nathan Reed, runner-up in the Sunderland City 10k last year, will give the event a miss on Sunday to contest the British Universities Championships at Bedford.
He competes in the 1500m for Newcastle University. Sunderland University’s Barry Maskell also goes in the metric mile.