Sunderland Harriers’ challenge pays off with a third placed finish

Chris Bell, who was the youngest Sunderland Harrier in the Great North Run.
Chris Bell, who was the youngest Sunderland Harrier in the Great North Run.
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Sunderland Harriers have been placed third team in the Morrisons Great North Run Club Challenge.

Clubs affiliated with England Athletics, and fielding at least seven male and seven female registered athletes, automatically qualified for the competition.

The winning clubs at each of the Great Run events up and down the country, is based on the average finishing times of the fastest seven male and seven female runners.

The winning club at each event is placed into a draw for a trip to Ethiopia.

This means that Great North Run winners Tyne Bridge Harriers will go into the draw, while Gateshead Harriers and Sunderland Harriers finished second and third respectively.

The overall winners trip includes a stay at the famous Yaya Village, located outside the city of Addis Ababa, at an altitude of 2,700 metres above sea level.

The winning team will also enjoy a personal meeting with the world’s greatest ever distance runner, Haile Gebrselassie, before taking part in the Great Ethiopian Run with 37,000 other runners.

The Great Club Challenge, in partnership with England Athletics, has also awarded winning clubs at each event £500 and 15 free entries to their respective 2016 Great Run, as well as 10 and five free entries to the second and third placed clubs.

All qualifying clubs are also eligible for spot prizes, which are awarded across the competition.

The Sunderland team that finished third with their times was: Kevin Jeffress 1.14.52, Michael Edwards 1.18.33, Alan Hodgson 1.22.09, Michael Heskett 1.23.26, Paul Redman 1.25.11, Sean Smith 1.28.38 and Chris Bell 1.29.25.

Women: Angela Calvert 1.29.54, Michele Avery 1.34.20, Catherine Purdy 1.44.02, Colleen Compson 1.48.24, April Jones 1.48.43, Rachael Moore 1.50.52 and Donna Corrigan 1.55.25.

Catherine Purdy sliced nearly 10 minutes off her best time and Rachael Moore was five minutes quicker than her previous mark.

Among the men, Michael Edwards was nearly six minutes faster and Michael Heskett three minutes quicker.

The youngest runner in the team was 17-year-old Chris Bell, while the oldest was April Jones at 52, and Paul Redman 51.

Sunderland Strollers saw 107 members contest their Winter Handicap.

The winners were: Men: 1 Liam Watson, 2 Andrew Hodgson, 3 Laurentiu Craciunas.

Women: 1 Clare Webber, 2 Charlie Steer-Stephenson, 3 Joanne Hall.

Fastest Woman: Rebecca Calvert (21.02), Fastest Man: Brendan O’ Grady (18.36).

The next race is on November 11.

Sunderland Strollers Doorstep Marathon will take place on Sunday, December 6, starting at 9am for the marathon and 11am for the half marathon.

The course is a two lap route from the Seaburn Marriot around South Shields and back home.

Runners can opt to do either the half or full marathon distance and all income from the entry fee goes to the Phoenix Cancer Unit at Sunderland Royal Hospital.

The club will be covering all costs so every penny of the entry fee will be going to the Unit. Twenty five entries have been received so far and £500 raised.

Organiser Graeme Claezy needs 10 marshals for the event, also needed are two sets of bike marshals to accompany the lead runners of each event.

Houghton Harriers turned out in force at the Riverside Parkrun at Chester-le-Street.

Alex Brown won the event in a personal best of 16.30 and was just six seconds outside the 15-17 age group record.

Henry Johnson the North East under-15 1,500m champion also recorded a PB of 17.27 for fourth place.