Sunderland Harriers won their first ever Northern Athletics team medals in the 23rd annual Sunderland 5k Road Race at Silksworth Sports Complex last night.
The race which also hosted the North Eastern individual championships saw Gateshead Harrier Chris Parr and Morpeth Harrier Emma Holt take the individual honours.
But all local supporters’ eyes were firmly focused on the royal blue vests of Sunderland in the two separate races to see if they could break their team race duck.
And they did so with relish, as first the women’s team delivered surprising silver medals before the men also climbed the rostrum in third place.
All three counters in the women’s race clocked PBs as the emerging Alice Smith finished fourth in 18.04. Next came Jess Fox in 10th (18.57) and 15-year-old Eve Quinn closed the scoring with a run of 19.27. They scored 27 points to winners Jarrow and Hebburn, who had Alex Sneddon leading them home in second. Jarrow scored 17pts with Birtley in third with 50pts.
The Sunderland men all had a steady start, but made rapid progress during the second lap to charge into the team medals. The scoring three were Sparrow Morley in ninth (15.29), Steve McMahon with the same time and Andy Powell in 11th (15.33). They finished behind Morpeth and Gateshead Harriers.
The men’s race was hit before the start when race favourite and former winner Ryan McLeod failed to start after injuring his back in his warm-up.
The way was now left clear for Chris Parr, making his debut, to stamp his authority on the race. He was content to stay with a big pack on the first lap before making his move for victory around the 3k marker.
Emma Holt, the women’s Penshaw Hill race winner made it a double success with her win, although she was disappointed with her time.
In the men’s over-50 race, Tyne Bridge Harrier Keith Smith won in 17.09, Sunderland Harriers had Tim Field in second (17.24) and Paul Merrison first over-55 (18.19).
Results: Men 1 Chris Parr (Gates) 14.55, Sam Hancox (Mor) 15.08, 3 Jed Marshall (Gates) 15.09, 4 Russ Floyd (Mor) 15.12, 5 Greg Jayasuriya (Midd), 6 Max McNeil (Salford) 15.18, 7 Thomas Straughan (Mor) 15.22, 8 James Askew (Dur) 15.28, 9 Sparrow Morley (15.29), 10 Steve McMahon (15.29), 11 Andy Powell (Sun Harr) 15.33, 12 Luke Adams (Sth Sh) 15.33, 13 Jonnie Nesbit (Mor) 15.38, 14 James Dunce (Tyne Bri) 15.39, 15 Kevin Jeeffres (Sun Har) 15.40, 16 Alex Brown (Hough) 15.41, 17 James Cripwell (Gates) 15.43, 18 Terry Scott (Tyne Bri) 15.44, 19 Adrian Bailes (Birtley AC) 15.47, 20 Robert Eaton (Dur) 15.48.
Women: 1 Emma Holt (Mor) 17.18, 2 Alexandra Sneddon (Jarr) 17.36, 2 Tracy Millmore (Birtley) 17.50, 4 Alice Smith (Sun Har) 18.04, 5 Alyson Dargie (Tyne Bri) 18.06, 6 Chloe Price (Birtley) 18.21, 7 Georgia Campbell ( Jarr), 18.36, 8 Elaine Leslie (Jarr) 18.47, 9 Stephanie Dann (NSP) 18.53, 10 Jessica Fox 18.57 (Sun Har).