SUNDERLAND Harriers bounced back to form in the second Start Fitness North East Harrier League fixture of the cross-country season at their home course at Farringdon on Saturday.
The senior men’s team finished second to league leaders Morpeth to haul themselves from seventh to fourth in the First Division.
The six-mile handicap race saw the Wearsiders pack their six counters inside the first 91 finishers in the record field of nearly 400.
It was veteran Jon Dobson who led the royal blue vests home, finishing 18th (36.46) after running from the slow pack with a five minutes’ start on the fast pack.
Kevin Calvert (34.21) just failed to gain automatic promotion to the fast pack through a top 20 position after finishing 21st from the medium pack.
Alan Hodgson was Sunderland’s third counter in 44th (38.15) then came Paul Redman, 76th (36.49), Paul Merrison, 90th (37.11) and Paul Cooper closed the scoring in 91st (39.41).
Sunderland Strollers found themselves firmly rooted to the bottom of the division after finishing 10th and last.
They had new signing Frenchman Noel Racine, still awaiting clearance to compete for them, as a non-counter in ninth (35.34). The Strollers’ first scorer was Ken Maynard in 38th (38.02).
Durham City Harriers won the Second Division contest ,with James Askew in fifth (35.03) and Graeme Hunt 13th (36.02) the club’s leaders.
Houghton Harriers finished second in the Third Division to maintain their push for promotion.
Tom Grey in 35th (37.55) was the first Houghton runner home.
The fastest runner on the course was Ethiopian Yared Hagos, who got through to 10th from the fasts (30.40).
The Strollers finished ninth in the women’s league and the Harriers were 21st, with Vicky Haswell in 15th. First Stroller was Ashleigh Thorpe in 40th.
In the younger age groups, Sunderland finished fourth in the under-13 boys, with Kieran Watson in 10th, Aidan Paget 15th and Jack Smith 25th.
Sunderland Stroller Sam Shotton was fourth. Houghton’s Alex Brown got through to 13th from the fast pack.
Sunderland were third in the under-15s through James McAanney in eighth, Joel Jones 11th and Jack Robinson 21st.
Sunderland Harrier Laura Hand was sixth in the under-13 girls’.
Houghton, with Jennifer Welsh 11th, Grace Oliver 15th and Rachel Jones 31st were the fourth team.
Sunderland Harriers were the third under-15 girls’ team with Anna Robinson fourth, Alex Pearson 19th and Danielie Elliott 21st. Sunderland’s Sophie Burnett, now with Birtley, finished second.
Patrick Lally, Houghton Harriers, was second in the under-11s race.
H In the Great South 10-mile road race at Portsmouth yesterday, Ryan McLeod was the first North East finisher in eighth (48.33), former Sunderland Harrier Jack Martin was 24th (50.48) and Morpeth veteran Ian Hudspith was 29th (51.39).
Chester-le-Street’s Freya Murray was ninth (54.49) in the women’s race.