Sunderland Harriers looking to clinch second place in the North Eastern Harrier League

Sunderland Harrier Aidan Crowe (8419) makes his way through the big field with an improved performance in the National Cross Country Championships at Nottingham.
Sunderland Harrier Aidan Crowe (8419) makes his way through the big field with an improved performance in the National Cross Country Championships at Nottingham.

The final North Eastern Harrier League fixture takes place at Alnwick on Saturday where promotions and relegations from the various leagues will come to a conclusion after a long winter season.

There are three divisions in both the men’s and women’s categories, and also leagues for the six young athletes’ age groups.

Sunderland Harriers’ senior men’s team have lifted themselves from the bottom of Division One after a poor start to the six fixtures to second in the table.

With Tyne Bridge Harriers certain to lift the title, the Wearsiders will be out to consolidate their second position.

They are the only club that have never been out of the First Division since the leagues were formed over 20 years ago.

Gosforth and North Shields look in danger of relegation and Wallsend and Birtley are the promotion candidates from Division Two, with Sunderland Strollers in fifth place.

Houghton Harriers are out of the promotion skirmish in Division Three through being too far away from contention in fourth place.

In the women’s Second Division, Sunderland Harriers, after their win at the last league match at Thornley, are in a four-way fight for promotion to Division One.

Morpeth top the league on 15 points with the city club on 16 points.

Just behind are Gosforth Harriers and Heaton Harriers both on 17 points.

The Sunderland team is looking like this: Alice Smith, Vicky Younger and Colleen Compson all from the fast pack; medium pack consists of Vikki Cotton and club debuts’ come from Lauren Flaxen, Amy Callaghan and Rachael Hudson.

Sunderland team manager Eddie Maddison said: “It has come down to the wire with very little between the four clubs in contention.

“We will have our strongest team out and we will be looking for another good result.”

Houghton Harriers are involved in chasing league success in the Under-13 Girls’ and Under-15 Girls’ tables.

They stand their best chance of success in the Under-15s where only one point separates them from top-of-the-table Morpeth Harriers.

As well as the league tables to decide on, there is also the individual Grand Prixs that will be decided at Alnwick.

Sunderland Harrier Ian Dixon heads the veteran men’s table, four points ahead of Birtley’s Darren Purvis.

Clubmate Alice Smith is third in the women’s standings, tying with Joanne Raine (Crook), with Emma Holt (Morpeth) and Gina Rutherford (Jarrow and Hebburn) in first and second place respectively.

Houghton Harriers have Lydia James in second place in the Under-15s, Nicole Phillips fourth in the Under-13s, and Eva Hardie fifth in the Under-15 Girl.

Sunderland Harriers Cross Country Grand Prix also comes to an end with seven athletes doing battle for the five prizes.

Ian Dixon tops the table with 47 points, having missed just one of the Grand Prix events at the Sherman Cup.

The rest of the challengers with their point scores are: Paul Redman 46pts, Vicky Younger 45, Karl Robinson 41, Alice Smith 37, Jason Waite 37 and Rachael Moore 33.

The venue is at Alnwick Pastures, NE66 1YU. Directions: On A1 take turn off to Alnwick onto A1068. At roundabout take B6341 (second exit) and follow signs to Alnwick Gardens.

This is traditional cross country course with a variety of terrain and some steep inclines/descents. There are limited facilities at the start/finish area. Good for spectators.

Ample parking at Alnwick Gardens car park. It is an easy walk to the start.

Sunderland Harrier Oliver James, competing for McNeese University in the States, had a busy competitive couple of days in the Southland Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships.

He clocked a personal best for 3,000m (8.19.16) for third place, the day after he had finished sixth over 5,000m in another PB (14.54.11) and clocked 3.03 for 1,200m relay leg. Clubmate Jess Fox finished 14th in the 3,000m in 10.52.96.

Michael Barker was first M35 to finish in the British Masters’ Netherhall 10-mile Road Race Championship at Maryport. The Sunderland Harrier finished sixth overall in 57.42.

The English National Cross Country Championships at Woolaton Park, Nottingham on Saturday saw big fields in all 10 events for all age groups.

The senior men’s race saw over 1,700 finishers. Sunderland Harrier Aidan Crowe improved on his previous performance in the National at Herrington Country Park in 2013, to finish 583rd.