Season opener sees athletes break records

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RECORDS were broken when nearly 1,500 runners took part in the first Start Fitness North East Harrier League of the season at Blaydon on Saturday, writes Kevin Carr.

The senior men had a record-breaking field of 575 finishers and the senior women also broke all records with 308 finishers at Shibdon Park.

The rest of the numbers were made up of young athletes from the nine other events, with the under-11s race attracting their biggest field of 134 finishers.

But with the growing numbers, this is proving an organisational headache for officials, with the senior men’s race being particular hit in the finishing area.

Runners had to queue well before the finishing line as the funnels could not cope. But provisional results have been declared with both Sunderland Harriers and Sunderland Strollers both finishing down the field in the first division.

The Harriers’ finished seventh (352pts) and the Strollers were ninth (355), behind the winners Tyne Bridge Harriers, with their outstanding win, with just 64 points. Durham City were second (122) and defending champions Morpeth finished third (136).

First home for the Harriers’ were slow pack men Graham Lancaster in 21st and Matthew Fearn 75th. The Strollers had slow packers Liam Taylor in 36th and Michael Edwards 39th. Gary Walker of the Coalfields team finished 25th.

The Strollers finished seventh team in the women’s first division with Ashleigh Thorpe 29th, Moyra McGowan 64th and Ashleigh Ewen71st.

There was a good result from new club, the Hetton Coalfields team, who finished third in the second division. Their scorers were Angela Campbell in fourth, Georgia Campbell 19th and Jean Bates 67th.

Sunderland Harriers finished 12th with Emily Hope their first runner home in 45th. Houghton Harriers were 15th.

Durham’s Rosie Smith, who got through to 36th from the fast pack, was the fastest runner of the day.

Houghton Harriers enjoyed success in the younger age group races. The club, showing much promise, won four individual medals, with three silver and two bronzes in the handicap races.

Eleanor Daglish finished second in under-17/20 handicap race, running from the slow pack. Second places also went to Henry Johnson in the scratch under-11s race, being beaten by just one second by Birtley’s Matthew Cleugh. Anna Pigford was third girl.

Twins Eva and Lily Hardie were second and third in the under-13 Girls’ event and with Jennifer Reed 14th, the team finished second to Gateshead.

Sunderland Harriers had teams finishing in ten of the 11 events, but no medals came their way. Their best result coming in the under-17 men’s race where they finished fourth with Chris Bell eighth.

H Sunderland Harrier Mark Hood finished 110th (2.35.15) in yesterday’s Frankfurt Marathon.