Sunderland Harriers will be making their debut in the British Masters’ Women’s Cross Country Relay Championships at Long Eaton, Derbyshire a week on Saturday.
Busy team manager Eddie Maddison, whose enthusiasm and dedication to the sport was recognised by England Athletics North East, with runner-up in the volunteer awards at the presentation at Lumley Castle, is in confident mood.
The South Hylton man is buoyed by the inclusion of recent signing Jacqueline Etherington into the Over-35 team.
She transferred from Tyne Bridge Harriers to Sunderland earlier this year, and her results have been wide ranging with a series of impressive performances.
Her top mark came when she won the British Masters’ Over-35 2,000m steeplechase title at Sheffield in a record of 7.47.55, and she then clocked 18.44 for the Great North 5km last month.
Maddison said: “These performances are just an inkling of her vast talent over many disciplines.
“But the steeplechase mark and 5km time suggest she will be a tremendous asset to the relay team.”
Joining Etherington in the team are Nicola Woodward, runner-up in the Kielder 10km, and Vicky Haswell.
Maddison is hopeful of medals and an improvement on their performance in the Masters’ Road Relay Championships at Sutton Coldfield in May, where they finished in fifth place.
Sunderland Harriers host a handicap cross country race for club members at Farringdon on the club cross country course on Saturday at 10am.
The idea is to encourage young athletes and others to partake in the sport of cross country running.
This is hoped to be the first of three or four events with the next one the Christmas Pudding Run on Boxing Day.
Then this could be followed by an event on the road followed by a track mile race before the start of the track season.
Club captain and organiser Nathan Reed said: “We need to get the message out that competition is what athletics is all about.
“We have too many youngsters that do not compete and hopefully these competitions will encourage them to take part.”
The event is open to Under-11s to veterans. Under-11s compete over 1,000m and the other age groups go over 3,000m. Entry is free to Under-17s and £2 for anyone over 17-years-old.
Sunderland Harriers have a party of athletes that are off to Germany to compete in the Dresden Marathon on Sunday.
They are: Albert and Debra James, Gary and Kim Fox, Paul and Michelle Mustard and Richard Borrowdale.
Houghton Harriers travel to Sheffield on Saturday for the Northern Athletics Cross Country Relay Championships at Graves Park.
They have teams entered in the senior men’s relay, the Under-15 Boys and Under 15-Girls relays.
The Under-15 Boys’ team should be prominent in their event with the three-leg team built around Will Bellamy and Henry Johnson.
The last member will be chosen from Matthew Cleugh, Chris Coulson or Jack Seeney.
The Under-15 Girls’ team should give a good account of themselves with Lydia James, Amy Leonard and Anna Pigford, the runners nominated.
Houghton’s Dominic Ellis gained the Young Volunteer (14-25) award of the year at the England Athletics presentation at Lumley Castle.
The citation said: “He is one of the very few young officials in the area, a role which he undertakes with great pride and efficiency.
“He can be found at all level of events and beyond this gets involved in all aspects of the sport and is a great example to others.
“He also writes a regular blog for the North East Counties website which is always great to read.”
Houghton Harrier Lee Dover was third in the Temple Park 5km at South Shields, recording 16.40 behind race winner Marc Fenwick (Tyne Bridge) in 15.52.
Sunderland Strollers leading runners were: John Cook seventh (16.57), Chris Dwyer 12th (17.49), Ritchie Gerry M50 15th (18.26), Luke McCormack 25th (19.10), Mark Ralph M45 27th (19.30), Gary Hargrave M45 29th (20.11), Gary Dunmore M45 30th (20.17).
Sunderland Harriers placed Robert Walker M45 9th (17.03) and Darren Stoker M45 24th (19.07).
The women’s race was won by Sophie Burnett (17.29) and then came Sunderland Harriers’ Nicola Woodward W35 (19.30) and Vikki Cotton W35 (20.37), with Over-60 Lyne Valentine (Sunderland Strollers) fourth (21.47).