Masterful Sunderland Harriers in the medals at British and Irish Masters’ Cross Country Championships

Sunderland Harrier Paul Merrison.
Sunderland Harrier Paul Merrison.

Three Sunderland Harriers came back from the British and Irish Masters’ Cross Country Championships with three team medals and an individual bronze at Swansea on Saturday.

Over-60 Paul Merrison led the charge with third place in his category and a team gold for England.

Kevin Jeffress also won team gold in the Over-35 age group, while Jacqueline Etherington was in the Scotland team that took team bronze in the Over-40 category.

For Merrison this was his seventh selection for England and his best performance, beating his fourth place in the Over-45 age group in 2004.

The Over-60 age group was won by Scotland’s Alastair Walker (29.30) with Irishman Lawrence Johnston second (30.02) and Merrison third (30.08).

England just beat Scotland by two points to win the team competition.

Jeffress was the fourth and final team scorer in the winning Over-35 England team that contained three North East athletes.

The Seaham man finished tenth Over-35 (26.41), while Gateshead Harrier Conrad Franks was fourth (26.15) and Quaker Michael Joyeux was eighth (26.36).

England and Ireland tied on 28 points but England won on countback through Jeffress 10th place compared to Ireland’s last team scorer who took 13th.

Etherington finished 12th in her age group where she was making her debut for Scotland in this category. The Scots took third team place with Etherington the third and final team counter.

Other North East athletes selected were also among the medals. Alnwick’s Carol Page finished fifth Over-55 and second England counter that won the team contest.

Evenwood’s John Clifford was 16th Over-45 and in the England team that won the team competition.

Meanwhile, Sunderland Stroller Alyson Dixon, at the age of 40, shattered her personal best in the Brampton to Carlisle 10-mile Road Race yesterday.

She clocked 55.01 to slice over two minutes from her previous best set in the Thirsk 10m (57.10) in 2013.

She finished 13th in the race in field of over 650 and beat the second runner Annabel Simpson, of Fife, by over two minutes (57.03).

Her time was just outside the bench mark of under 55 minutes which would have entitled her to a £100 bonus to go alongside her first prize of £200.

Sunderland Strollers also took third team award with Wendy Chapman in seventh (64.20) and Jan Deighton 40th 72.22, backing the Olympian.

Chapman was also first Over-45 to claim another award.

Salford Harrier Thomas Cornthwaite won (50.13) from his clubmate Marc Brown (50.17).