Sunderland Harriers hit the medal trail for the first time since 2015 in the Sherman Cup and Davison Shield cross country team competitions at Temple Park, South Shields, on Saturday.
They finished second in the male event and were third female team, in the competition which is based on the overall strength of clubs throughout the age groups.
It was work behind the scenes that ensured that the Wearsiders were involved in the chase for medals with team managers and coaches, Eddie Maddison, Michael Hill and John Archer, working overtime over the holidays to make sure full teams towed the lines in the 10 events.
Failure to do so would have ruled the club out of the competition.
Sunderland were second in the men’s event on 26 points, with Morpeth winning on 10 points.
Gosforth finished third with 29 points. Sunderland’s female team were third with 31 points to Morpeth’s winning run of 18 points, with Elswick finishing second on 26.
Men’s team manager Albert James said: “It was a big surprise when we got the results. We never thought we would win two sets of medals.”
Sunderland’s Over-40 men achieved the club’s best performance in winning their team race, with Over-45 Rob Walker winning gold for first veteran in 31.32.
Paul Blakey was fourth (32.17) and Graeme Pullan 17th (34.02) to win his first ever medal.
The senior men finished down in ninth with Michael Barker returning to the club to finish 25th (31.37), Steve McMahon was 37th (32.18) and Steve Rankin 60th (33.45).
The Under-17 Men finished well for fourth through Cameron Lawton 12th, Josh Davis 13th, and Rhys Clark 25th.
The Under-15 Boys finished sixth and were steered home by Dillon Revel in 15th, then came Connor Prior in 20th and Adam Hughes closed the scoring in 44th.
The Under-13s, in sixth, saw Harry Ayre in 10th, Jak Jarvis 22nd and Ben Bewick 36th.
The veteran Over-35 women finished second to Morpeth to lead the Sunderland challenge in the Davison Shield.
They placed Alice Smith in second Over-35 in (24.05) to take veteran silver, Gemma Frost was fifth (24.42) and Vicky Haswell finished 10th (25.09).
The senior women were fifth with Jenna Wilkinson in an overall 16th (24.56), Amy Callaghan 60th (26.57) and Lauren Flaxen 111th (28.57).
The Under-17/20 team also ran up to form to finish fourth with Sarah Knight in sixth, Grace Mackie 19th, and Hayley Dobinson 20th.
Sunderland’s weakest events were in the Under-15 and Under-13 Girls, but they did all that was asked of them to ensure they finished to keep medal hopes alive.
It was thanks to Under-15s Jessica Wilson 40th, Katie Dickinson 41st and Catherine Randles 42nd plus Under-13s, Lucy Perlish 57th, Hannah Cowen 60th and Hannah Hughes 64th, to ensure medals did not slip from the club’s grasp.
While Houghton Harriers did not feature in the two competitions, they did have some good performances.
Will Bellamy was an outstanding winner of the Under-17s race, winning by 28 seconds from Gateshead’s Charlie McMillan. Houghton also finished second team.
Eva Hardie, in a fine third place in the Under-17/20 women, also led her team to victory with backing from Lydia James in seventh and Anna Pigford eighth.
Cameron Allan ran well for 12th (30.19) in the senior men’s race and Lee Dover was 17th (30.54).
Brandon Pye was fifth in the Under-13s Boys’ race and Nicole Phillips and Amy Leonard finished seventh and eighth respectively in the Under-15 Girls.