Sunderland Harriers enjoy string of North East Masters medals

Kevin Jeffress leading the North East Masters Cross Country Championships.
Kevin Jeffress leading the North East Masters Cross Country Championships.
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Record fields converged on Burn Close Green, Wallsend, for the North East Masters’ Cross Country Championships on Saturday.

And a record-breaking turnout by Sunderland Harriers saw the Wearsiders come away with a bagful of medals.

Top of the pile came Kevin Jeffress, who defended his over-35 title, won at Darlington last year, to also lead the Sunderland over-35 team to first place.

The Seaham athlete was content to let Durham’s Matthew Hornsby set the pace around three testing laps of the challenging course.

But, for the remaining two circuits, Jeffress that took charge, coming home in 29min 13sec to head Crook’s Carl Chapman (29.26) and Hornsby in third (29.28).

Jeffress said: “I’m pleased to win again. I felt good, although it was quite a tough course with a couple of very steep hills to climb.

“Once I got away, it was just a matter of maintaining the pace.”

With over-40 Ian Dixon fifth (29.40) and Paul Blakey (over-40) 11th (30.56), the team race was in the bag.

Dixon also won bronze in the over-40 contest with Chapman and Morpeth’s John Butters in fourth (29.38) ahead of him.

A bronze medal was also won by clubmate Tim Field in 17th (32.32) in the over-50 race, behind winner Paul Waterston (Morpeth) 31.41 and David Best (Crook) 32.06. Included in the Sunderland over-50 team which won silver was 57-year-old Paul Merrison who won the over-55 title in 23rd (33.09) and over-45 Alan Knebel was the club’s third and final counter in 31st (34.19).

Sunderland Strollers finished second over-55 team, with Ken Maynard 32nd (34.22), Malcolm Cox 70th (38.53) and Phil Watson 99th (44.54).

Durham’s Joasia Zakrzewski, an over-40, won the women’s race in 21.22.

Sunderland Harriers won their first ever medals in the women’s over-35 team race, finishing second to North Shields. They had Nicola Woodward in eighth (24.16), over-40 Colleen Compson, the team captain, in 18th (25.47) and Vicki Cotton 22nd (26.24).

Sunderland Strollers took third spot, courtesy of Ashleigh Bennett in sixth (23.56), Vicki Booth 15th (25.25) and Vanessa Hogan 34th (27.45).