Sunderland Harriers travel to Blackpool on Saturday for the Northern Six-Stage and Women’s Four-Stage Road Relay Championship at Stanley Park, writes Kevin Carr.
The Wearsiders have four teams entered, two men’s and two women’s, who compete over 6k and 4.9k legs respectively.
Men’s team manager Albert James and women’s manager Eddie Maddison have assembled teams that will have given them much to be happy about.
James is confident that his A team should knock spots off their 47th position of last year at Warrington.
Since that race, the club has strengthened the squad and athletes have continued to improve under the new training regime, ensuring the outlook is looking much brighter.
They emphasised much improvement at the club’s own cross country relay at Farringdon 10 days ago when they won the event for the first time since 2012.
But missing from the men’s A team line-up will be Kevin Jeffress who is still recovering from the Great North Run. He was Sunderland’s fastest runner last year.
The Sunderland A team is: Andy Powell, Nathan Reed, Michael Wilson, Craig Isherwood, Steve McMahon and Ian Dixon.
North East junior 1,500m and 800m champion Wilson makes a welcome return, after being sidelined suffering from shin splints. McMahon was the man who anchored the team to victory at Farringdon.
The B team could be: Ben Craig, Liam Roarty, Michael Edwards, Richard Kemp, Johnny Howe and Michael Laws.
Maddison should see more steady progress from the women’s team, who make a rare appearance in the relay championship.
The women’s A team will be led by 17-year-old Jess Fox, who has improved greatly over the summer. This was highlighted by her last two races, where she clocked a personal best for 10k at Darlington, 24 hours after she finished fourth in the women’s race at Farringdon.
The rest of the women’s A team will be chosen from Judith Thirwell, Sarah O’Mahoney, Vicky Haswell and Colleen Compson.
Sunderland Strollers Grand Prix has Mick Armstrong sitting on the top of the table with Ritchie Gerry and Michael Dixon in the other podium positions.
Top woman is Anna Machin followed by Clare Baharie and Vicky Booth.
The Strollers Urban Ultra 35 will take place on Saturday, November 7. The route will be around 35 miles, starting and finishing from Ashbrooke.
While many will rise to the challenge, the Strollers realise that the distance may put others off from competing. For this reason, they will be offering a two-leg relay option, with each runner covering around 17.5 miles.
Transport will be provided to take/return runners from the changeover point. Afterwards refreshments will be provided at the club headquarters at Ashbrooke. The race is open to Strollers only and invited athletes.
The club’s Doorstep Marathon will take place on December 6, starting at 9am for the marathon and 11am for the half marathon.
This is another exclusive Stroller day and again all proceeds will be going to the Phoenix Cancer Unit at Sunderland Royal Hospital.
Houghton Harriers had some pleasing performances in the Sprint Relays at Monkton Stadium.
Lying in second place for most of the meeting, they eventually finished third team overall, even though they were unable to field an under-15 boys’ team or any under-17 teams.