SUNDERLAND Harriers’ senior men’s team improved five places on their position of last year to grab the bronze medals in their own Farringdon Cross Country relay on Saturday.
The Wearsiders were down in 12th place on the opening 3000m leg (Ian Dixon 9min 41sec) and were even behind their B team in fifth (Steve Potts 9.13), who would run faster than three of the club’s A team.
Kevin Jeffress (9.06) then pegged back six places with the club’s fastest time of the day, but they still lagged behind their B team, who had Michael Barker in fourth (9.30) on the second leg
Next off, Craig Isherwood was the athlete who took the royal blues into third (9.29) before anchorman Nathan Reed consolidated that spot with his stint of 9.30 to finish (37.46) behind winners Morpeth (35.48) and second club Gateshead (36.50).
Sunderland team manager Albert James said: “I’m delighted with the result. It is far better than last year’s, especially as most of them are just in the early stages of their winter training. They are far off their best and they will improve as the season progresses.”
The Sunderland B team’s challenge fell away after legs from veterans’ Graham Lancaster (10.52) and Paul Redman (10.49) slipped them from fourth to a final 14th.
Sunderland Strollers finished 10th (39.37) with Steve McMahon (9.16), Michael Laws (10.21), Michael Edwards (10.25) and Steve Rankin (9.35).
The fastest man on the course was Morpeth’s Karl Avery (8.45), with Sunderland Harrier Kevin Jeffress eighth best.
The senior women’s race, over the same course as the men, continues to grow with 100 entries received.
And it was the Birtley starlet Lydia Turner, the under-17 English National cross country champion, who stole the show. She won the race by a street in a time of 9.27, winning by 83 seconds. That superb time was faster than many of the established senior men.
Sunderland Harriers’ new recruits Judith Thirlwell (sixth in 11.26) and veteran Nicola Woodward (10th in 11.48), ran well on their club debuts.
Sunderland Harriers also tasted success in the under-17 women’s race where Jessica Fox (11.23) got the better of Houghton Harrier Eleanor Daglish (11.31) to finish third. Houghton’s Alex Brown was fourth man (9.25).
Sean Mackie was also a Sunderland medallist in the under-15 boys race, finishing third (9.58). Houghton’s Jamie Reed was sixth (10.19).
Eva Hardie took the silver medal in the under-13 girls’ race (11.20) and clubmate Anna Pigford was fifth (11.43). Henry Johnson in third (10.32) was another Houghton medallist in the same race. And Nicole Phillips added to the Houghton medal collection with second in the under-11 girls’ race.