Locals suffer league misery

Jonny Howe.
Jonny Howe.
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THERE was not much joy for local clubs in the senior men’s race at the North Eastern Harrier League fixture at Wrekenton on Saturday.

Sunderland Harriers and Sunderland Strollers finished last and second off last respectively in the first division, while Houghton Harriers failed to finish a team in the second division.

No doubt the Sunderland AFC match had a bearing on the results through the number of athletes who preferred the game at the Stadium of Light to the muddy Saltwell Harriers course.

With only two fixtures to go, both Sunderland clubs face a relegation fight, with the Strollers stranded at the bottom of the league and the Harriers being dragged into the mire after their worst performance for three years.

Sunderland Harrier Tim Field, a 48-year-old who was a regular prize winner of the individual grand prix during his glory years, returned to league competition after a long absence and finished an impressive seventh (37.13), running from the slow pack.

He was the only Harrier to finish inside the first 100 in the handicap race. The Strollers had Michael Laws 67th and Stuart Percival 102nd.

Durham City Harriers finished second team to league leaders Morpeth, having three men in the first 11 in James Askew in fourth with an actual time of 34.29, Dan Jenkin ninth (32.24) and Ben Douglas 11th (32.31). The fastest on the course was Morpeth’s Richard Morrell (32.05) who got through to fifth from the fast pack.

First division: 1 Morpeth 7pts, 2 Durham 9, 3 Tyne Bridge 12, 4 Wallsend 16, 5 Gateshead 23, 6 Low Fell 24, 7 Sunderland Harriers 29, 8 Tynedale 33, 9 South Shields 35, 10 Sunderland Strollers 37.

Sunderland Strollers women consolidated their fourth position in the first division by finishing fourth at Wrekenton. Their counters were Ashley Ewen in 29th (30.16), Ashleigh Thorpe 33rd (28.26) and Moyra Magowen 51st (30.53). The winner and the fastest of the day was Morpeth’s Emma Holt (24.32).

Women’s league: 1 Gateshead 8pts, 2 North Shields 12, 3 Tynedale 14, 4 Sunderland Strollers 17, 5 Tyne Bridge 19, 6 Heaton 21, 7 Blackhill 27, 8 Elvet 28, 9 South Shields 35, 10 Low Fell 41.

Sunderland Harriers’ under-17/20 team finished fourth in their race to move within two points of Durham City Harriers at the top of the league, who failed to finish a team. The club’s counters were Jessica Fox in19th, Anna Robinson 20th and Merial Smithson 25th.

Sunderland’s Sophie Burnett was the second fastest (20.58) in sixth, behind Alnwick’s fifth placed Rosie Murton (20.45).

Houghton Harriers had Jennifer Reed in third in the under-13s girls’ and she was backed by Eva Hardie 12th and her twin Lily (18th) for third team. Grace Oliver was also a bronze medallist in the under-15 girls’ and Sunderland Harrier Laura Hand was seventh.

Sunderland Harriers had their first winner of the season when Jonny Howe won the under-17 men’s race. Houghton’s Alex Brown finished fast to grab bronze in the under-15 boys’ race and Sunderland Harrier Sean Mackie was ninth.

H Sunderland Harrier Steven Duffy, preparing for the Edinburgh marathon, finished tenth (81.21) in yesterday’s Liversedge half marathon in Roberttown, Yorkshire. Clubmate Paul Collins, an over-50, in training for the London Marathon, was 18th (83.07).

Sunderland Stroller Gerard Watson was 90th (95.30) in the race won by Holmfirth’s Matthew Pierson (73.28).