Sunderland Harrier wins pier-to-pier race

Craig Isherwood seals victory
Craig Isherwood seals victory
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Craig Isherwood had his best win from his five years in the sport, with victory in the Sunderland Strollers’ Pier-to-Pier race from South Shields to Roker yesterday.

The Sunderland athlete, taking advice from Brian Bewick, did not make his move for victory until five miles had been completed to improve on his runners-up position of last year.

When I landed on the other side the two lads that had been 100 yards behind me were now 80 yards in front.

The popular race, with a field of over 1,000 and a distance of approximately seven miles, where athletes are allowed to take any route they wish as long as the keep off the highway, saw Isherwood take control for the last two miles.

“I decided to pick up the pace and they gradually dropped off the back,” said Isherwood, who praised Bewick for his suggestion.

“I felt really strong when it mattered most and I was quite comfortable at the end. It was a good win for me, especially for it being here in Sunderland.”

Isherwood felt extra delight as he was ahead of Evenwood’s John Clifford who beat him by 13 seconds and two places for fourth in the Sunderland 10k earlier this month.

Behind Clifford was Sunderland Harrier Steve Rankin who equalled his position of last year.

Stocky Silksworth bricklayer Bewick needed all the strength he could muster when he went off course and came to a dead end. The 49-year-old was the first veteran to finish in seventh place.

”The marshal said this way and I entered a field and at the end there was this big wall beside the Whitburn firing range,” said the Sunderland Harrier.

“I had to take a run at it and pull myself up and over it. When I landed on the other side the two lads that had been 100 yards behind me were now 80 yards in front. I put my head down and gave chase and caught them both before the finish.”

Jarrow and Hebburn athlete Alex Sneddon, whose previous best in the race had been third woman, at last tasted victory. She led all the way despite finding the race tough.

She said: I just returned from holiday yesterday and it was hard to get going. It was also windy which didn’t help.”

“I’m going back on the track now and targeting the North East and Northern 5000m championships.”

In second place was clubmate and veteran Elaine Leslie.

Sunderland Harrier Michelle Avery, a four-time winner, finished third. She had originally penciled in the Raby Castle 10k but changed her mind at the last minute to run on the course which is just around the corner to where she lives.

“I did the parkrun yesterday and this is all part of the training to get me back to my best following the birth of Henry. I was running on tired legs, so I’m well pleased with my run.”

Sunderland Harriers’ over-35 team finished ninth in the British Masters’ Road Relay Championships at Sutton Coldfield on Saturday.

The six runners were Kevin Jeffress (15.31), Steve McMahon (16.02), Ian Dixon (16.38), Noel Hitchcock (16.59), Paul Merrison (17.21) and Mick Thompson (16.48). Morpeth finished five seconds ahead of Sunderland in eighth, largely due to a superb leg by Ian Hudspith (14.31), the fastest of the day.

The over-65 team finished 11th with Jim Wightman (21.53), Bill Bittlestone (22.49) and Dave White (21.49).

The over-35 women’s team ran well to take 18th spot with Nicola Woodward (20.39), Judith Thirlwell (20.05), Colleen Compson (21.47) and Vicki Cotton (22.30).

Sunderland Harriers finished fifth in the Gordon Smith Road Relay at Wallsend, with Steve Rankin running the fourth fastest time of 10.59. The other two members were veteran Alan Knebel (12.16) and Andy Powell (11.05).