Last chance for athletes to catch the selectors’ eye for Northern 12-stage Road Relay Championship

Sunderland Harriers senior men's team, who are the winners of the North Eastern Harrier League First Division title.
Sunderland Harriers senior men's team, who are the winners of the North Eastern Harrier League First Division title.

Sunderland Harriers will use Elswick Harriers’ Good Friday Road Relays as a selection race to determine their teams for the Northern 12-stage Road Relay Championship at Silksworth Sports Complex a week on Saturday.

Athletes on the fringe of selection for both teams have their last chance to catch the selectors’ eye at Newburn Riverside Business Park.

They will be racing over legs of approximately 2.2 miles, which replicates that of the Northern Championship relay.

Team manager Albert James said: “Both Northern teams have more or less selected themselves, but there is still a chance for someone to squeeze into the teams with a good performance at Elswick.

“They have a great opportunity to grab a place in the championship and they will know what they have to do.’’

James is expecting former North East Cross Country champion Mark Hood to return to competition at Elswick after a long absence through injury.

Although far from his fittest, his performance will be eagerly awaited ahead of the championship race.

One athlete who almost certainly ran himself into the A team for the championship relay is veteran Micky Thompson, who was runner-up in the Harrier League race at Wrekenton on Saturday.

Following Sunderland Harriers win in the North Eastern Harrier League First Division at Wrekenton last Saturday, the relegation of Wallsend from the top flight leaves Sunderland as the last remaining club that has never been out of the First Division since the leagues were split into three divisions in 1993.

They have now overtaken Heaton Harriers as the club that has won more Harrier League titles since the league was formed in 1896.

It is the oldest cross country league in the country. Then it was established as the Northumberland and Durham Paperchase League.

The final league race brought to an end Sunderland Harriers’ cross country Grand Prix and 98 members were involved in the chase for the first five prizes.

The winners were: 1 Paul Merrison 57pts, 2 Nicola Woodward 56, 3 Emma North 55, 4 Paul Redman 53, 5 Dean Phillips 53.

They will be presented at the Penshaw Hill prize presentation at the Monument Pub on Wednesday, June 1.

Sunderland Harriers’ Noel Hitchcock finished 28th (57.38) and Steven Duffy 54th (59.36) in the Thirsk 10-mile road race, which was won by Morpeth’s Jonny Taylor in 49.43.

Sunderland Stroller over-50 Ritchie Gerry clocked 64.02 at Thirsk and Terry Allsop was 11th in the Run Cragside 10k (39.44).

Congratulations to Houghton Harriers’ Matthew Lumb and Philippa Ellis for winning gold and silver medals respectively at the North Eastern Counties AA Indoor Pentathlon Championships.

The registration and HQ for the Elswick Harriers Relays is at Newburn Leisure Centre, Grange Road, Newburn. NE15 8ND.

Race course location (2.2 miles away): Newburn Riverside Business Park, Lemington, Newcastle. (Newburn Riverside A road: A6085), NE15 8NY.

Programme: 10.10am – Under-13 Boys and Girls race, approx. 1.6 miles. 10.30am – Under-15 Boys & Girls race, approx. 1.6 miles. 10.50am – Senior and Veteran Women’s Relays, approx. 2.2 miles. 12noon – Senior and Veteran Men’s relay race, approx. 2.2 miles.

Seniors must park at Newburn Leisure Centre and not the Business Park.