North East athletics set for hectic evening of events

Brave North East athletics officials are out and about around the region whatever the weather.
Brave North East athletics officials are out and about around the region whatever the weather.
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Tonight sees the North East face its busiest night of athletics as the sport continues to grow at a considerable rate.

Hundreds of athletes will turn out in four events staged around the region catering for track and field, road runners and multi-terrain athletes.

The George Ogle Memorial multi-terrain race takes place at Swalwell and there are road races at the Clive Cookson Cup 10km at Whitley Bay and the Run Northumberland Vindolanda 10km.

Track and field athletes are catered for with the North East Grand Prix at Monkton, where the highlight will be the graded 800m. The first race will be run for the Jimmy Hedley Cup.

While the sport of athletics is certainly flourishing, this brings added problems for the number of officials needed to man these events.

One local official said: “This is a growing problem as athletics continues to grow with many more events on the fixture list.

“They all need officials, but we are definitely being stretched to the limit.”

As well as the hectic programme tonight, since Sunday, busy local officials have been in attendance at the Raby Castle 10km and the North East Young Athletes Development League.

On Monday they were at the North East Masters’ Track and Field League at Monkton. And tomorrow, the North York Moors Relay takes place at Middlesbrough.

The recruitment and retention of qualified officials has always been high on the agenda of North East Counties AA.

Once on the officials list they have the opportunity to progress up the ladder to a grade four standard, which entitles the official to officiate at international level.

The North East had six officials involved in the 2012 London Olympics and there are eight that have been invited to officiate at the London World Championships in the summer.

Whatever the weather, North East officials are out and about around the region, as can be seen in the above picture that was taken at the 2015 North East Counties Cross Country Championships at Sedgefield.

Ironically, next week there is only one event on the fixture list. The Penshaw Hill Race on Wednesday. Details are on Sunderland Harriers’ website.

If your interest is track and field, road running or cross country, there could be a place for you and the sport would be grateful for your interest, if so please contact Chris Betts on 0191 410 3104.

H Houghton Harrier Henry Johnson’s performance in the North Eastern Counties Track and Field Championships earlier this month, where he won the Under-15 800m in 1.59.04, has placed him on top of the UK ranking list for his age group. He won the championship award for the best performance of the day for a male athlete on the Sunday. He also won the 1,500m at the championship on Saturday.

Johnson, coached by Lynn Cooper, is also fourth ranked in the 1,500m with his 4.13.3 set at the British Milers’ Club paced races at Chester-le-Street.

Philippa Ellis, coached by Geoff Fenwick, was another Houghton star at the championships where she won three gold medals, is ranked eighth in the UK for the 75m hurdles (11.51) and in the 100m (12.59) she is 11th.

The best overall performances at the North East Championships were: Male: Saturday: Alan Toward (Sheffield & Dearne) senior men’s discus 59.00m, record had stood since 1968. Female: Saturday: Emily Chong (Chester-le-Street)) Under-15 girls’ 3,000m 10.29.40. Female: Sunday: Tia Anderson (Durham City) Under-15 girls’ 300m 41.00,

H Sunderland Harrier Michael Wilson clocked a personal best for 1,500m (3.47.27) in the British Milers’ club Grand Prix at Solihull.

He got his season off its mark at Watford in another British Milers’ Club event where he ran 1.51.67 for 800m.

He has said that this season he is concentrating on fast times instead of championship races. He hopes to challenge the Sunderland Harriers’ 1,500m record of 3.42.36 set by Gavin Massingham in 2009.

Club-mate Oliver James whose fastest 1,500m (3.46.81) is a shade faster than Wilson, has also got the record in his sight.

Sunderland Harrier Ian Dixon one of the top Over-40 veterans in the North East makes his marathon debut in the Edinburgh Marathon on Sunday.

Dixon won the veterans North East Harrier League cross country Grand Prix last season.

Club-mate Andy Powell finished third in the Temple Park 5km (15.35) behind winner Finn Brodie (Tyne Bridage) 15.18 and Thomas Straughan (Morpeth) 15.25.