SUNDERLAND Harriers lifted themselves into fourth position in the first division of the Start Fitness Senior Men’s North East Harrier League at Blaydon on Saturday.
Now the Wearsiders (12pts) go into the final three fixtures of the cross country season seven points behind joint leaders Gateshead and Morpeth with Heaton Harriers in third on 11 points.
The city club got off to a flying start when they filled two of the first six places in a record field of 420 finishers. They placed 17-year-old slow pack runner Oliver James in a superb third (30.05) and Kevin Calvert charged through from the medium pack into sixth with the sixth fastest time of the day (29.18).
Slow pack men Alan Hodgson 39th (33.32) and Tom Campion 44th (33.36) were followed by medium pack runners Paul Redman 77th (31.53) and Noel Hitchcock 82nd (31.58).
Sunderland Strollers finished eighth of the ten competing clubs but are still one point adrift at the bottom of the division. Their first runner home was medium man Chris Dunn in 61st (31.27).
Durham City Harriers won their division two contest to maintain their top spot in the league. They were led to their victory by slow pack man Martin Proctor (29.39) runner-up to Gateshead’s Ryan Stephenson (28.33).
Houghton Harriers finished fourth in division three to maintain their second place in the league. Their first man to finish was Shaun McGarth in 124th.
The fastest runner on the course was Morpeth’s Irish international Eoin Everard in 31st (28.12) running from the fast pack.
In the under-17s race, Sunderland Harrier Michael Wilson returned to competition after a three month absence to win the race in 21.10. His clubmate Patrick Crombie finished sixth from the fast pack in an actual time of 20.30.
Sunderland Harriers had Vicki Haswell in 24th (26.03) in the women’s race in another record field of 159 finishers. Fast pack runner Michelle Holt was the fifth quickest in 31st (22.33) with new Morpeth recruit Ashley Gibson the fastest in 11th (21.12). Sunderland Strollers were sixth team with counters Ashleigh Thorpe in 34th, Vicki Booth 54th and Rachael Ball 66th.
In the under-17 and under-20 event, Houghton Harrier Rachell Scott was sixth. Sunderland Harriers had fast runners Amy Coulson in eighth and Alison Seadon tenth.
Houghton Harrier Isabella Bosanika won the under-15 girls’ race. Sunderland Harriers had Alex Pearson in sixth and the club are still at the top of their division.
In the under-11s race, Rowen James, brother of Oliver, was fifth and Owen Jackson finished eighth.
H Former Sunderland Harriers Patrick and Jack Martin will be heading into Europe after their new club Stockport Harriers won the team competition between Swansea and Scottish club Central to decide who will represent the UK in the European clubs cross country championship at Liverpool.
Patrick finished 33rd (30.35) and Jack was 46th (31.08) to support Steve Vernon in seventh (29.38). The race was won by Andy Vernon (Aldershot) in 29.19 with former Elswick Harrier Ryan McLeod in third (29.24) Other North East athletes in the trial for the European Championships, were Morpeth’s Jon Taylor in 11th (29.53) and Ricky Stevenson 17th (30.05).
In the women’s race won by Hattie Dean (27.05). Chester-le-Street’s Freya Murray, running for her Scottish club Edinburgh, was third (27.32) and Durham’s Rosie Smith was 12th (28.09).