Relay records tumble galore

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SUNDERLAND Harriers over-50 team were one of four record-breakers in the North Eastern Counties Road Relay Championships at Hetton Lyons Country Park on Saturday.

The combined championships saw a record-breaking field of 55 men’s and 30 women’s teams finish the relay, held at the country park for the third time.

Top of the pile came New Marske’s Ricky Stevenson, who shattered the senior men’s stage record (10.16 – Elswick’s Phillip Hurst) for the 2.22 mile leg with a sparkling 10.09 in the windy conditions.

The international also led the Teesside club to victory, smashing Gateshead’s record of 65.45 with their superb performance of 65.27 for the six-stage event.

The last record broken was set by Tynedale Harriers with their victory in the veterans’ women’s relay with their new figures of 56.55.

But the Sunderland golden oldies carried the Wearside flag, improving on last year’s runners-up position to first place this time. They recorded 79.35 to crumble Morpeth Harriers’ previous mark of 82.08

They finished 26th overall with Kevin Carrahar (14.13), George Harden (12.54), Peter Richardson (14.02), course record holder Paul Merrison (12.05), who clocked 12.46 this time. Paul Collins was the fastest over-50 on show with 12.43 and captain Rob Rush brought the team home in 12.57.

Houghton Harriers won their first ever road relay medals with third place.

The team was Paul Readman (15.20), Steve Pearson (15.29) Steve Scott (16.16), Steve Todner (14.29) Ian Morgan (16.11) and Anthony Page (17.52).

With New Marske taking their first-ever senior title, it was last year’s champions Gateshead who finished runners-up with 66.37, followed by third-placed Morpeth (67.18).

Gateshead B were fourth (70.09), guest team Richmond and Zetland were fifth (70.29) and Sunderland Harriers finished sixth (70.38).

The Sunderland team was Kevin Calvert (6th-11.08), Oliver James (6th-11.43), Brian Rushworth (6th-11.29), Mark Hood (5th-11.25), Nathan Reed (5th-12.11) and Craig Isherwood (6th-12.42).

There were a number of Sunderland athletes whose performances merited them a place in the Harriers A team and that could have lifted the royal blue vests to fourth place.

The Sunderland B team were 34th, with Patrick Crombie (12.10), Michael Wilson (12.22) John Watson (15.00), Jim Wightman (14.46), Steve Winter (16.21) and Steve Graham (12.34).

The Sunderland over-40s finished 37th through Graham Lancaster (12.33), Ken Bell (12.17), Paul Redman (12.43), Fred Judson (15.11), Dean Phillips (15.08) and Billy Bittlestone (15.48).

Sunderland Strollers finished 18th, with Chris Dunn (12.19), Neil McArdle (12.38), James Hubbard (13.18), Steve McMahon (12.25), Mick Armstrong (14.08) and Tim Allsop 13.20.

Their veterans’ team was 46th and they were Kevin O’Neill (14.05), Harry Harrison (13.55), Bill Kirk (15.42), Gavin Sword (13.10), Paul West (16.08) and James McGovern (17.37).

Houghton Harriers senior men’s team was 41st, with Thomas Grey (12.26), Shaun McGrath (13.51), Alan Foster (13.59), Ross Lambton (15.35), David Dickinson (15.22) and Simon Leonard 15.45.

Fastest overall times: 1 Ricky Stevenson 10.09; 2 Yared Hagos (Walls) 10.35; 3 Mark Shaw (New Marske) 10.37; 4 Andrew Wiles (New Marske) 10.41; 5 Lewis Timmins (Mor) 10.46; 6 Russ Best (New Marske) 10.51.

Morpeth won the four-stage women’s title (52.32) from New Marske (56.11) and Durham (56.36).

Easington’s Chloe Price led on the first leg for Durham with her stint of 13.11 before Aiveen Fox (13.20), Kim Simpson (14.17) and Clair Manser (15.58) slipped back to third.

Sunderland Harriers finished 11th after being in fifth on the penultimate leg. The team was Michelle Holt with the 10th fastest time overall (13.45), Amy Coulson (15.34), Ingrid Hope (15.05) and last minute replacement over-55 Susan Clughen 18.39.

Sunderland Strollers were 17th with Rachel Ball 14.48, Alyson West 15.37, Audrey Duncan 18.29 and Tracy Burlinson 17.57

Houghton Harriers finished 18th through Kelly Bentley (16.04), Rachel Scott (15.13), Paula Dodds (17.31) and Liz Page (18.30).

Fastest times: 1 Laura Weightman (Morpeth) 11.49; 2 Morag Stead (Mor) 13.00; 3 Chloe Price (Dur) 13.11; 4 Carolyn Summersgill (Midds) 13.16; 5 Aiveen Fox (Dur) 13.20.