Kevin Jeffress led from start to finish to complete his hat-trick of wins in the North East Masters’ Cross Country Championships at Wallsend on Saturday.
On a glorious day for Sunderland Harriers, Jeffress was one of two individual gold medallists.
On top of that, the club won three team titles.
The 38-year-old, competing in the 35-44 year category, clocked 29min 53sec to win by 23 seconds from John Clifford of Evenwood Road Runners.
With Jeffress’s family watching from the sidelines, they had much to cheer as the Seaham athlete looked effortless as he took the tough conditions in his stride around the undulating three-lap course.
He said: “It’s my favourite cross country race. This is why I missed last week’s Northern Cross Country Championships and saved myself for this.
“I was determined to win and get my hat-trick.’’
Jeffress led Sunderland to the team title, with Michael Barker the second counter after being close to the leaders on the first lap, before slipping back to finish fourth (30.39).
Steven Gordon closed the team score in 27th (35.21). Carl Chapman (Crook) took third place (30.30).
Sunderland’s back-to-form Tim Field finished eighth and first Over-50 (32.53) to grab another gold medal.
Over-55 Paul Merrison, returning to competition after illness, was third Over-55 in 18th (33.49).
Sunderland Harriers retained the women’s Over-35 team title with a comfortable victory over North Shields and Durham.
The much improved Vicky Younger found the tough conditions to her liking to finish an impressive fifth (24.24) to lead her team home.
Next came Nicola Woodward in seventh (24.49) and Over-40 Coleen Compson finished 11th (25.48) to ensure victory. Younger also won an individual silver.
Women’s team captain Compson said: “This makes up for last year when the shine was taken off our win when we were originally given second place to North Shields.
“It was a few days afterwards that we learned that we had been promoted to the winners.’’
The race winner was Durham City Harrier Joasia Zakrzewski in 22.38.
The women’s race also included the Over-65 men’s championship and Sunderland came up trumps again with another team win.
David White finished fifth (28.21), before Billy Bittlestone outsprinted Over-70 Len Christopher to finish eighth (29.52) one second and one place ahead of his Sunderland club-mate. Christopher clinched an Over-70 individual bronze.
Bittlestone said: “I showed a bit of speed through the track sessions I’ve been doing at the club.’’
Sunderland Strollers finished second to Morpeth in the Over-55 team race, thanks to Ken Maynard 22nd (34.19), Malcolm Cox 70th (42.10) and Bill Kirk 73rd (42.45). Stroller Mark Anderson an Over-35 was seventh in the race (31.48).