Selection process for North Eastern Counties Cross Country Chamipoinships ongoing

Sunderland Stroller Vicki Booth, main picture, leads the women in the club championship.
Sunderland Stroller Vicki Booth, main picture, leads the women in the club championship.
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Local clubs are finalising their teams for next month’s North Eastern Counties Cross Country Championships, being held for the first time at East Park, Sedgefield.

With the entry deadline of November 13 approaching, form and injuries have to be taken into consideration before entries can be submitted.

With nine events on the programme, entry secretaries face a busy time before they make their submissions.

Sunderland Harriers senior team, winners of the championship 15 times, have much to uphold and careful scrutiny of the final selections will be made.

With six-to-count in the team race, all the clubs’ leading men need to be down to run, if they want to improve on their third place finish last year at Newcastle’s Town Moor.

The last time they won the championship was in 2006.

Team Manager Albert James is having a roll call and availability and injury problems will be taken into consideration before he makes any predictions on the medal chances of the team.

The bronze medal winning team last year was Kevin Jeffress in 12th, Craig Isherwood 13th, Steve Potts 19th, Nathan Reed 22nd, Michael Barker 33rd and Noel Hitchcock 37th.

There is bound to be changes to this team for the above reasons, but there are others that have emerged to put themselves into contention.

Andy Powell, although not a lover of cross country, comes into consideration, as does Steve McMahon, Steve Rankin and Ian Dixon, plus others on the fringe.

James has much on his hands to ensure another medal winning performance, as his dream is to get the club back to where they once were – a championship winning team.

And, just for the memories, the winning team in 2006 was led by Mark Hood, who won his first of three titles – all in a row.

Then came Brian Rushworth in fourth, Patrick Martin fifth, Tom Doughty 12th, Steve Potts 14th and Tim Field 18th.

The draw for the Sunderland Strollers London Marathon places has taken place and the four spots have been awarded to the following: Lesley Watson, Michael Dixon, Wayne Smith and Jill Kisler.

The Strollers Urban Ultra 35 will be on Saturday. The route will be much the same as last year totalling around 35 miles starting at 8.30am and finishing at Ashbrooke.

The Strollers are offering a 2-leg relay option this year with each runner covering around 17.5 miles.

Transport will be provided to take/return runners from the changeover point. They have 39 entries so far, 27 for the full ultra and six relay teams.

Sitting on top of the Strollers’ club road and cross country championship table is Tim Allsop, having scored 1384 points from his nine events, with Ritchie Gerry and Andy Duke in the other podium positions.

Top woman is Vicki Booth followed by Gillian Ritchie and Lyne Valentine.

In Division 5, Paul Riddell leads from Michelle Donnelly, while in Division 4, Anna Machin has overtaken John Corcoran to move into top spot.

Clare Baharie is still fending off Rob Craig in Division 3, while Michael Dixon and Vicki Booth are fighting it out in Division 2.

The first prize for the Heaton Harriers’ Memorial 10k Road Race at Newcastle’s Town Moor on Sunday has been increased to £200, plus a £200 bonus available for a sub 29:56 winning time (men), and sub 34:04 winning time (women).

The race will be preceded by a minutes silence at 11am.

Timetable of events: 9.30am Under-11 boys/girls – Approx 1km, 9.40: Under-13 boys/girls – 3km, 9.55: Under-15 boys/girls – 3km, 10.10: Under-17 men/women and Under-20 men/women – 5km.