Road race set for record turn-out

Derek Mullen.
Derek Mullen.
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THE 21st Sunderland 5k Road Race is on course for a record entry despite a clash with the Great North Gateshead 10k.

The race, which also hosts the North East 5k championships, always has one of the best fields to contest a local road race.

And the event, on Wednesday, July 16 at Silksworth Sports Complex at 7.15pm, comes just three days after the Gateshead race.

But the Sunderland Harriers organizers are confident that the race will not be hit by the clash.

Club secretary Michael Hill said: “We may lose a few of the top North East runners, but I’m sure the race will still live up to its usual high standards.

“The entries are rolling in and I’m certain that on the night the race will be graced again with some of the region’s finest athletes.”

Commonwealth Games bound marathon runner, Alyson Dixon, the women’s course record holder looks likely to miss out this time as she is committed to the Gateshead race.

The Sunderland Stroller’s record stands at 15.52 from last year and she is the only woman to have beaten 16 minutes on the super fast course. The men’s course record stands to Martin Scaife with 14.23 from 2004.

The benchmark of 16 minutes has been beaten by 16 Sunderland Harriers since the race was changed to this course in 2000.

The names with the year and the time was achieved are: 1 Brian Rushworth 14.34 (2000), 2 Mark Hood 14.45 (2008), 3 Gavin Massingham 15.08 (2008), 4 Derek Mullen 15.11 (2000), 5 Graham Lancaster 15.16 (2000), 6 Patrick Martin 15.19 ( 2006), 7 Richard Kemp 15.20 (2003), 8 Tom Doughty 15.21 (2004), 9 Lee Browell 15.33 (2001),10 Andrew Lilliendale 15.37 (2002), 11 Kevin Calvert 15.37 (2011), 12 Mark Donkin 15.38 (2001), 13 Dave Grover 15.44 (2000), 14 Steve Potts 15.46 (2004), 15 Ian Haggan15.47 (2003), 16 Jack Martin 15.58 (2004).

Rushworth has won the race six times all on the tougher old course, on which he clocked a best of 14.36. Hood has triumphed three times since 2006, with all his performances below 15 minutes.

They are the only Sunderland Harriers’ to have won the race. While Derek Mullen, the 1996 British International veterans’ cross country champion, surprised many by clocking 15.11 in 2000 at the age of 45. The Houghton runner finished eighth in the race.

Hood is targeting the race again, while Rushworth, now 51, will be chasing a veterans’ prize as long as injury problems do not stand in his way. Mullen is now retired from the sport.

Entry details and race forms are on the Sunderland Harriers website or you can enter online via the Run Britain website.

H Tonight’s Elswick Harriers’ Newburn River Run will a see a maximum field of 400 involved in the 6.5 mile scenic, flat and predominately traffic free route.

The race starts at 7.30pm and the changing facilities are at Newburn Leisure Centre, Grange Road, Newburn NE15 8ND.

H The third meeting of the North Eastern Grand Prix takes place at Gateshead tonight (7pm). The graded 100m and 1500m are the most popular events.

H The Inter County Schools’ Championships takes place at Gateshead Stadium on Saturday.

H Sunderland Harrier Michael Wilson, the recent winner of the Durham Schools’ senior 800m title, contests the 800m in the England Athletics under-20 Championships at Bedford on Saturday.