Sunderland Harriers lose ground on Start Fitness North East Harrier League First Division title chasing pack

Sunderland Stroller John Cook celebrates his second place finish at the Kielder Half Marathon.
Sunderland Stroller John Cook celebrates his second place finish at the Kielder Half Marathon.

Sunderland Harriers’ senior men’s team maintained their fourth place in the First Division of the Start Fitness North East Harrier League at Druridge Bay on Sunday.

But the points gap at the top widened after they finished fifth with Tyne Bridge, Morpeth and Durham filling the first three places.

The Wearsiders are now six points behind leaders Morpeth (three) with Tyne Bridge on four points and Durham on five.

The Sunderland scorers, with their actual times in the handicap race, were led home by Under-20 Sean Mackie in seventh (37.21), Paul Blakey was 13th (35.30), Andy Powell 17th (33.50), Robert Walker 32nd (36.34), Steven Duffy 56th (37.29) and Richard Borrowdale 119th (41.38).

The fastest runner on the course was Andy Burn (Jarrow and Hebburn) who got through to ninth from the fast pack (32.27).

The race winner was South Shields Harriers’ slow pack man Luke Adams in an actual time of 34.30.

Sunderland Strollers dropped from first to fourth in the Second Division after finishing eighth and being led home by medium pack man Callun Thom in 33rd (36.47).

Houghton Harriers slipped from top spot in the Third Division after Low Fell and Blaydon headed them in the team contest.

Low Fell now head the table, one point ahead of Houghton in second. Slow packer Juma Tatah was Houghton’s first scorer in 40th (39.57).

Sunderland Harriers women’s team dropped from first to second in the Second Division of the women’s league, with Heaton Harriers now top of the table by two points.

The city club had two runners in the top 50 in slow pack runners Linda Mudford in 42nd (31.14) and Lauren Flaxen 46th (31.17).

Sunderland Strollers moved from fifth to third in the Division Three with a terrific run from Over-45 slow pack runner Wendy Chapman (27.58), who was pipped for first place by just two seconds.

It was Morpeth Harriers fast pack runner Emma Holt who took the honours again to win with the day’s fastest time of 24.35.

Houghton Harriers Under-15 girls’ team moved to the top of their division after providing the winner of the race in Amy Leonard, and being backed by Lara Megan Greggs in 15th and Nicole Phillips 21st.

In the Under-15 boys’ race, Houghton produced the fastest two runners in the race through fast pack runners Henry Johnson, who got through to fifth (11.10), and Will Bellamy in eighth (11.20).

Houghton’s Joseph McGinley finished second in the Under-11s race and Sunderland Harrier Henry Squires was seventh.

Olympic and World Championship marathon runner, Alyson Dixon, was singing the praises of one of her protégées, John Cook, after he finished runner-up in the Kielder Half Marathon on Sunday.

The 31-year-old Sunderland Stroller had been running alongside Dixon, who was using the race as a training run.

They ran together for the first 10 miles of the race in around seventh place before Cook sensed he could get a place in the frame.

He set off in pursuit of the leaders and gradually hauled them in to finish in second place, clocking 83.11 for the challenging course.

Dixon said: “He has a lot of potential as he possesses both speed and endurance.

“He trains with the group at Silksworth every Tuesday and I can see he is progressing.”

Cook’s endurance was tested in the gruelling Lakeland 50-mile race where he finished an impressive eighth in 8hr. 51min. 57sec.

He has also a best of 16.49 for 5km to show he has pace as well as stamina added to his armour.

Also at Kielder, Sunderland Harrier Bev Martin took second place and first Over-40 in the women’s Run Bike Run event.

She finished 22nd overall in 2.29.33 where competitors completed an 11km run, a 25km bike ride and ended with a 6km run.

Sunderland Harrier Aidan Crowe (2.56.53) followed his clubmate Over-40 Ian Dixon in recording a personal best (2.41.04) in the York Marathon.

Houghton Harrier Over-45 Matty Tomlinson clocked 2.58.41.

In the Chester Marathon, Sunderland Strollers had 10 runners competing and they were led home by Over-50 Brian Carroll with 3.26.26 and Over-45 Gary Dunmore (3.29.22).