RICHIE TOUGH has made a welcome return to Sunderland Harriers after a long absence.
The former marathon international has now turned to coaching the club’s endurance athletes.
And improved results are already beginning to show, with many of the athletes achieving personal best times over varying distances.
His main training session is the club track session on a Tuesday night when groups of runners are put through their paces in timed interval sessions.
They are graded according to their ability and this is paying dividends as they push each other to achieve their allotted times.
Tough, a retired former fire-fighter officer, said: “There is tremendous enthusiasm throughout the groups and this is rubbing off on others, who wish to join us in the sessions.
“There is a real mix of abilities and athletes range from 1500m runners to the marathon.
“They all have their own targets and the satisfaction comes if I can help them to achieve them.
“I’m really enjoying being involved again and seeing the zeal with the athletes take to their training sessions. I’m ambitious as they are and the atmosphere could not be better. We are at an early stage, but we are in it for the long run.’’
“I’m determined to help the Harriers’ get back to where they used to be – a powerful force in the North and beyond.”
Tough clocked 2.19.59 for the marathon in 1985, a performance which gained him his England vest in the former Milk Marathon at Aberdeen later in the year.
Assisting Tough at the trackside, is another former marathon international, Glenn Forster, the club’s fastest marathon runner with 2.15.08 from 1984.
Houghton Harriers have two of their young members gaining prizes in the Start Fitness North Eastern Harrier League grand prix.
Henry Johnson won the under-13 contest and Alex Brown was runner-up in the under-17s.
Sunderland Harrier Craig Isherwood was runner-up in the senior men’s competition.
The presentation of prizes takes place at Start Fitness Newcastle on Thursday, April 23, at 5.30pm.
Houghton Harriers held their Dedication and Performance awards night and the following young athletes were successful:
Most promising newcomer (male) – Matthew Phillips, most promising newcomer (female) – Neve Hall, outstanding under-9 – Lexie Ellis, outstanding under-11 – Nicole Phillips, outstanding under-13 – Ellie Patterson, outstanding under-15 – Jack Bittlestone, outstanding under-17 – Ben Mitchell, outstanding under-20 – Lewis Thompson. Indoor athlete of the year – Philippa Ellis, cross country athlete of the year – Henry Johnson, field athlete of the year – Georgia Oliver, track athlete of the year – Eva Hardie, most improved athlete – Grace Oliver, Ian Hutchinson Memorial trophy – Lydia James, junior member of the year – Laura Fenwick, runner-up athlete of the year – Henry Johnson, athlete of the year – Ben Mitchell.
H The Sunderland Strollers’ Pier to Pier Race will take place on Sunday, May 17, at 10am.
Starting on the beach at South Shields, the race route hugs the coastline past Marsden Rocks, Souter Lighthouse and Whitburn before rejoining the beach at Seaburn.
It keeps well clear of the ongoing seafront works. Runners will briefly rejoin the promenade before dropping back onto the beach for the final run in to Roker Pier, the total distance is around seven miles.
Race organiser and Strollers club secretary, Harry Harrison: said: “Entries have been steady and the race is well on course for its target of 1000 runners.”
Postal and online entries will be accepted up to May 9 (£20 for UK Athletics affiliated runners; £22 for non-affiliated runners).
Entries on the day will be accepted up to 30 minutes before start time (£25).
The race will be chip-timed following the club’s decision to invest over £6,000 to buy its own system.
The Club is also delighted to have received sponsorship this year from Lofthouse and Partners, Franklin Steel, Jen Deighton Hairdressing and SNOP.
Entries for the Pier to Pier are available through the club website www.sunderlandstrollers.co.uk. Any other queries should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
H South Shields Harriers host their Sand Dancer 10k on the Leas at South Shields, near the Great North Run finish on Sunday (11am).
All runners receive a T-Shirt (except late entries). Prizes for all categories, including team race for seniors and spot prizes.
Late entries are from 9.30am at Gypsies Green Stadium. Further entry forms available from their website www.southshieldsharriers.co.uk.
Entry fee £10 (£12 unattached). On the day entry is £12 (£14). Race limit is 400.
H The Gateshead Open Medal meeting is on Sunday at the International Stadium. Registration is open from 11.30am. First track event: 1.00pm.
H Next Wednesday, Sedgefield Harriers host their Neptune Multi-Terrain Relays.