Martin brothers edged out by Ricky Stevenson

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THE Martin brothers flew the Sunderland flag in the 106th North Eastern Counties Cross Country Championships at East Cramlington on Saturday.

Patrick, 26, the 2009 champion, and Jack, 23, clinched the silver and bronze medals in the senior men’s 12k race behind winner Ricky Stevenson of New Marske Harriers.

Stevenson, a 3.56 miler and the man who famously beat Mo Farah in last year’s Edinburgh International Cross Country, was the outright favourite in the field of 300.

But the 23-year-old was pushed for over two of the three laps by Patrick, who valiantly tried to run his rival into the ground before the superior strength and speed of Stevenson proved his strong point.

It was halfway round the final undulating last lap that Stevenson edged clear and at the finish (39.09) his gap stretched to18 seconds over Patrick (39.27) with Jack a clear third in 40.16.

The Manchester-based Martin brothers were competing in the yellow vests of Stockport Harriers after transferring from Sunderland Harriers a couple of months ago. But as they were born in Sunderland they intend to maintain there North East connections which allows them to represent the region in the Inter County Championships.

Patrick said: “I’m a little disappointed as I wanted to win, but Ricky was too strong for me. He’s just come back from altitude training in Kenya and maybe that gave him a bit of an edge.’’

Jack, who spent the whole race on his own, said: “I thought I would have done a bit better than I did.’’

The next three places were filled by Andrew Wiles (New Marske) 40.49, Matt Nicholson Morpeth (40.54) and Dan Garbutt (41.46), who led Durham (293) to third team medals behind Gateshead (131) and Morpeth (164).

Sunderland Harriers were just ten points away from the bronze medals in fifth spot. The club’s counters were Kevin Calvert 19th, Paul Merrison 44th, Paul Redman 46th, Noel Hitchcock 47th, Steve Gordon 54th and Alan Hodgson 93rd.

This was the first time in decades that the Wearsiders arrived back from the championships without a single medal.

The club’s women’s team also finished fifth (68pts) behind winners Morpeth (13), Durham (24) and Heaton (53).The race was won by Durham’s Rosie Smith in 31.39 who gained revenge over Kirsty Legg (Middlesbrough) who had to settle for second (32.04) this time. Morpeth’s Ashley Gibson was third (32.23). Sunderland’s counters were Michelle Holt in 11th, Ingrid Hope 23rd and Vicky Haswell 34th.

The Sunderland junior men finished fourth in their race with Oliver James in fifth, Nathan Reed 19th and Jake Archer 22nd. Washington’s Barry Maskell (Gateshead) was runner-up in the under17s. Amy Coulson finished 14th in the under17/20 race.

The Sunderland under-15s filled fourth in their race with Danielle Elliott 16th, Anna Robinson 25th and Merial Smithson 33rd. Plains Farm athlete Sophie Burnett in 15th was a member of the Birtley team that finished third.

The under-15 boys’ team was fifth with Joel Jones 12th, Ben Craig 21st and James McAnaney 35th. Houghton Harrier Alex Brown was eighth in the under-13 boys’.