James hopes Sunderland Harriers’ senior men produce another winning performance at Druridge Bay

Ian Dixon digs deep in the finishing straight. Picture by Hudson Stoker.
Ian Dixon digs deep in the finishing straight. Picture by Hudson Stoker.

Sunderland Harriers’ senior men need a repeat of their performance of the opening Start Fitness North Eastern Harrier League at Druridge Bay on Sunday - if they are to sustain their push for honours.

At Wrekenton last Saturday, they won the team race to go top of the First Division with good performances from the club’s slow and fast pack runners in the handicap race.

It was the slow pack men of Michael Thompson, Steve McMahon and Graeme Pullan, who all finished in the top 23, who got the team score off to a great start.

They were backed by fast pack men Ian Dixon in 37th, who just got the better of his clubmate Kevin Jeffress 38th, by one second to finish fourth and fifth club team counters.

The team scoring was closed by evergreen Over-55 veteran Paul Merrison in 69th.

Club team manager Albert James said: “It was a great performance from the lads, now we have it all to do again on Sunday.

“It is a tall order, but we are capable of another top performance if they all turn out again.

“We should also have slow pack men David Wilkinson and Craig Gunn available for Sunday.”

The Sunderland Harriers women made their First Division debut and they finished a creditable seventh with not their strongest team.

It was Jenna Wilkinson that led the way by finishing in second place in running from the slow pack.

The season has got off to a great start for Wilkinson, who led her club to victory in the Farringdon Cross Country Relays in September.

With her performance at Wrekenton, she is now promoted to the medium pack where she will still be a valuable team scorer.

Team manager Eddie Maddison said:” We still have a good squad of runners to come into the team and they include Alice Smith, Amy Callaghan, Bev Martin, Coleen Compson and Jacqueline Etherington, among others.

“I’m confidenet we can give a good account of ourselves in our first year among the big guns.”

Etherington competed in the Wynyard 10km Trail race on Sunday, finishing 19th overall and second Over-40 (42.16).

In the Penshaw Pieces of 8 10km Trail race, the event was dominated by two unattached Sunderland runners.

Springwell athlete Liam Taylor was an emphatic winner in 40.35 and second was Michael Barker in 43.22.

The Ashbrooke runner had also finished second in the Coxhoe Trail Run the previous Sunday.

Washington Running club had Tim Jones third (45.23) and Peter Setterfield eighth (48.26) at Penshaw.

The women’s winner was Gateshead Harrier Emma Masson (54.05) followed by Washington’s Kathryn Common (54.22) and Stroller Jenna Maynard (55.32).

Sunderland Harrier Alice Smith finished runner-up in the Redcar Half Marathon. She finished 62nd overall in a time of 1.28.12 to finish first Over-35.

Sunderland Stroller Wendy Chapman, 49, recorded 1.31.40 for first Over-45.

The women’s winner was Elswick Harrier Judith Knutt in1.25.12. Middlesbrough’s Greg Jayasuriya won the race by just over three minutes in 1.10.58.

Derwentside AC attracted 130 runners to their Pedro 10km on Sunday, in memory of Gerard Murray (known to many as Pedro) who sadly passed away in 2017.

David Best, of Blackhill Bounders, retained his title in 38.20 and Lydia Turner, of Birtley AC, was first woman in the same time as her clubmate Tracy Millmore (42.51).

The proceeds of the race will be split equally between Pancreatic Cancer Research and to developing junior athletics in Stanley.

The Keilder 10km and half marathon are both sold out, with only the Keilder Marathon with places available on Sunday.

The weekend’s first pre-race ‘Pasta Party’ will be held on Saturday for competitors who want to ‘carb-load’ the day before the marathon and half marathon.

Held in the Boat Inn restaurant at Northumbrian Water’s picturesque Kielder Waterside site, a marathon buffet of pasta dishes will be on offer, including one soft drink and unlimited glasses of Northumbrian Water’s top quality tap water, from 6pm at a cost of £10 per person.

The 2014 classic running film ‘The Barkley Marathons’ will also be screened at the party, before the night ends with a short question and answer session with Daley Thompson, hosted by race organiser and Olympic athlete Steve Cram.