Sunderland Harriers are one of seven North East clubs travelling to Blackpool on Saturday for the Northern 12-Stage Road Relay Championships.
A total of 76 teams are entered and Morpeth, Tyne Bridge, Gateshead, Durham, Blackhill Bounders and Wallsend, join Sunderland at Stanley Park.
The race is over eight legs of 5.2km and four of 9.5km, for a total of about 48 miles of racing.
Last year, Sunderland came to the rescue of Northern Athletics when they were asked if they could stage the event, with only a few weeks to go, at Silksworth Sports Complex.
The original venue at Stockport was unable to go ahead with the championships, due to problems on the course.
On home soil, Sunderland had a creditable performance finishing 10th team, and if they can get near that result at Blackpool, team manager Albert James will be delighted.
He said: “We should have a decent team and I expect them to race up to form.
“I have been forced to make a couple of late changes due to unavailability, but the squad to select from has strength in depth about it and looks sound.”
James will welcome back club captain Nathan Reed who has been on the sidelines with an Achilles tendon injury.
The team will be selected from: Aidan Crowe, Chris Bell, Nathan Reed, Ian Dixon, Steven Duffy, Jake Jansen, Kevin Jeffress, Steve McMahon, Paul Merrison, Andy Powell, Mark Smith, Jack Tallentire, Michael Thompson, Jason Waite and Michael Wilson.
It was in Blackpool in 2003 that the Wearsiders won their last medals when they finished in third place. You have to go back to 1987 and ‘88 when they enjoyed their last wins.
The team in 2003 was Brian Rushworth 24.51, Patrick Martin 13.24, Gavin Massingham 13.14, Mark Hood 25.02, Norman Younger 13.49, Mark Donkin 13.41, Andrew Lilliendale 26.41, Stephen Coxon 13.52, Norman Younger senior 13.55, Tim Field 26.20, Peter Groark 14.02 and George Harden 14.39.
Sunderland Harriers’ Eve Quinn and Sarah Knight are also at Blackpool on Saturday for the inaugural young athletes Northern 5km Road Race Championship. They compete in the Under-17s.
USA-based Oliver James finished sixth in the 1,500m (3.57.16) in the Maryland Invitation on his outdoor debut.
Houghton Harrier Philippa Ellis added to her list of championship successes by winning the North Eastern Counties Indoor Under-15 Pentathlon Championship at Gateshead on Sunday.
Her performances included 60m hurdles in a grade one standard of 9.28 in which she achieved her highest points score of 852, long jump (4.74), high jump (1.42), shot 9.07 and a grade one 60m (8.10).
Three days earlier she had won the 60m (8.15) and shot (9.31) in the Gateshead Indoor meeting.
Unfortunately, club-mate Matthew Lumb got off to a bad start in the Under-15 boys’ pentathlon opening event, the 60m hurdles, where he failed to register any points.
However, he gamely carried on and collected a series of PBs in the remaining events, recording a grade two standard in the 60m.
Sunderland Harriers’ growing number of young sprinters tasted success in the Under-20 age group at the Gateshead Indoor meeting.
Declan Murray clocked a personal best when winning round two of the 60m (7.37). Aaron Swainston won round one in 7.74, Jack Robinson was first in round two (7.75), Reece Carroll clocked 7.63 and Alex Waites was third in the women’s 60m (8.44).
The Sunderland Stroller of the Month for February is Trevor Duncan, who has recently stepped up to lead sessions at Penshaw for the ever increasing band of runners.
Strollers Chairman Phil Tweddle and secretary Harry Harrison were delighted to be able to present a cheque for £1,000 to St Benedict’s Hospice.
The money came from the £2 parking charge that was levied at Herrington Country Park for the Harrier League event.
The Strollers are looking for a number sponsor for their Pier-to-Pier Run which attracts around 1,200 runners from South Shields to Roker.