Sunderland Harriers host 28th Penshaw Hill Race with both Scott Ellis and Alice Smith defending their titles.

Sunderland Harrier Sarah Knight.
Sunderland Harrier Sarah Knight.
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Sunderland Harriers stage their 28th Penshaw Hill Race tonight with both Scott Ellis and Alice Smith defending their titles.

The popular North East Vending sponsored race sees North Shields athlete Ellis and Sunderland Harrier Smith heading the entries.

Ellis will be going for his third win having also won in 2014, while Smith is looking for her second title.

Both athletes also made it a winning double as they took the prime award as the first athletes to reach the famous monument on the opening lap.

Ellis said after winning last year: “I was surprised I was on my own so soon into the race. I love this event and it’s great to come here again and win.”

Sunderland Harriers have dominated the race over the years, having lost the title only six times.

Brian Rushworth, now forced into retirement through a knee injury, is the undisputed King of Penshaw Hill, having won the race 18 times with his last win coming in 2012.

And during that time he only suffered two defeats. In 2011 he lost to Liam Taylor and in 2013 it was his clubmate Nathan Reed who headed him. His record of 15.04 was set in 1996.

Taylor could be on the start line tonight as a late entry and, if so, could challenge for the title.

Reed will be absent as he is still on the road to recovery following an Achilles’ tendon injury.

Over-40 veteran Ian Dixon (Sunderland Harriers) looks likely to be the club’s leading challenger and should be thereabouts at the finish at the top of the gruelling hill.

He has only competed once previously when he finished fifth in 2013.

Houghton Harrier Lee Dover, who finished third in the Temple Park 5k on Friday, will be gunning for top spot. He makes his debut.

Washington’s Running Club’s Tim Jones, with a number of wins in the Trail Outlaws events, is in good form and will also be chasing a place in the frame.

Of the entries on paper so far in the women’s race, Smith appears to have a clear run after her victory last year in 18.58. The course record stands to Karen Hind (Gateshead) with 18.20 from 1999.

Other athletes in contention should be 17-year-old Sarah Knight and Over-35 Vikki Cotton of the host club plus Kim Simpson (Durham City Harriers).

Houghton Harrier Sheila Allen, now retired, holds the record for the number of wins (six) ranging from 1993 to 2003.

The race, over approximately three miles and over two laps, starts at 7.15pm. The prize presentation will be in the Monument pub in Penshaw Village at approximately 8.30pm. Late entries are available.

The Harriers’ cross country grand prix, held over the winter months, will also have their presentation. There was a close contest with Vikki Cotton wining on count back from Paul Redman.

The winners were Vikki Cotton with 48pts, Paul Redman was second also on 48pts, Allan McManus was third 44pts, Alice Smith fourth 32pts and Paul Merrison fifth 32pts.

Sunderland Stroller Lynne Valentine won the Over-60 section of the Edinburgh Half Marathon after clocking 1.41.30. Clubmate Chris Parker recorded 1.28.44.

In the marathon, Sunderland Harrier Richard Borrowdale recorded 2.57.26, Sunderland Strollers had Michael Dixon on 3.15.32 and Andrew Dobinson with 3.48.07. Houghton Harriers saw Katherine James run 3.40.53, Marguerite Harvey 3.44.8 and Carla King claimed 4.01 min exactly.

Sunderland Harrier Mark Smith clocked a personal best for 800m (1.54.91) at the Loughborough International. His performance moves him to number 10 on the Harriers’ all-time list, knocking Stephen Bird (1.55.1) 1982 from the top 10.