Sunderland Harriers enjoy golden double in the North East Masters’ Cross Country Championship at Darlington

Sunderland Harriers' winning women's team Left to right: Nicola Woodward, Alice Smith and Coleen Compson
Sunderland Harriers' winning women's team Left to right: Nicola Woodward, Alice Smith and Coleen Compson

Sunderland Harriers scored a glorious winning double in the North East Masters’ Cross Country Championships at Darlington on Sunday.

Kevin Jeffress secured his fourth title in a row in the Over-35-39 age group and Alice Smith did likewise in the women’s event in the same age group.

Smith got the golden proceedings underway when she despatched the early challenge from Darlington’s Bernadette Caygill to go on to win the event by more than one minute, recording 23min 53sec to her rival’s 25.01.

In third place, with another good run, was Sunderland’s Nicola Woodward and closing the scoring in 17th (28.28) to ensure the club’s fourth team victory in a row was determined women’s captain Coleen Compson.

Jeffress’s main rival was his own club-mate Ian Dixon, the Over-40 winner, but it was Jeffress who proved the stronger, pulling away on the second of three laps to win by 34 seconds.

In third place was Over-45 winner John Clifford (Evenwood) in 31.41, while Jarrow and Hebburn’s Brendan McMillan was fourth (31.56)

“Last week’s Northern run gave me a lot of confidence and I felt strong throughout the race,’’ said a jubilant Jeffress.

Sunderland’s winning run did not end there, as the second Over-45m Rob Walker, who finished fifth (32.28), also steered his team to another golden run in the 45 to 54 class.

He was backed by Tim Field, the first Over-50, in ninth (32.16) and final scorer was veterans captain Dean Phillips in 63rd (42.21);

Stalwart Paul Merrison was the other Sunderland medallist, taking second place in the Over-55 section (35.31) behind Durham’s Steve Everett (34.31).

Sunderland Strollers were also among the medals, with Mark Anderson, who finished sixth overall (32.30), taking bronze in the Over-35 age group.

The club’s Over-55 team finished second to Morpeth, thanks to Ken Maynard fourth in his category (36.36), Bill Kirk 19th (44.19) and John Corcoran 21st (46.44).

Training duo Derek Wright and Dawn Elliott finished second Over-65 (28.18) and second Over-55 (28.33) respectively to complete the Strollers’ noteworthy day