Sunderland Harriers miss out on fourth successive Cathedral Over-35 Relay success

Sunderland Harrier Ian Dixon
Sunderland Harrier Ian Dixon

Sunderland Harriers’ run of victories in the Durham City Cathedral Over-35 Cross Country Relay came to an end at Maiden Castle yesterday.

The Wearsiders finished runners-up to Morpeth Harriers, who halted the Wearsiders run of three wins on the trot.

But it was not all doom and gloom for the city club, who, as well as finishing second in the race, saw their Over-45 team claim third to win their category in the North East Masters’ Championships.

Sunderland Over-35s pushed forward after being in seventh on the opening leg through Steve McMahon’s run of 10min 23sec.

Kevin Jeffress then raised club spirits to lift the royal blue vests into second, with the second best time overall (9.27).

But John Butters (9.31), with the third fastest time of the day, still held a big lead for Morpeth.

Any chance that Sunderland’s anchorman, Ian Dixon, had of closing down on the Morpeth man ended when he went off course.

He found himself going down the finishing funnel and having to jump the three-foot high plastic barrier to rejoin the second lap of the 3000m course.

Dixon would have had to be in top form to get within reach of Morpeth’s final runner, Chris Smith, who recorded the day’s quickest time with his classy run of 9.18. Dixon’s time was 9.37 for the fourth fastest time.

The Sunderland Over-45s got off to a great start after Rob Walker (9.35) led the 60-plus field on the first leg and was the only runner of his category to go under 10 minutes for his leg.

The final two runners were Tim Field (10.17) and Michael Thompson (10.26), who ensured the gold medals ahead of Elswick.

The Sunderland C team of Over-50 Paul Merrison (10.40), Over-45 Martin Blenkinsopp (11.03) and Over-50 Paul Redman (11.03) were11th.

The D team took 16th place, thanks to Over-45 Darren Stoker (11.04), Over-45 Karl Robinson (11.31) and Over-35 Peter Shaw (11.15).

Houghton Harriers Over-45 team were 13th through Alan Foster (10.51), David Coulson (11.23) and David Gribben (11.15).

In the women’s race, Sunderland Harriers finished third in the Masters Championship, courtesy of Linda Mudford (12.00), Colleen Compson (13.34) and Vicky Haswell (12.05).

Houghton Harriers, who were in second place in the senior women’s race through the Hardie twins, Eva (11.12) and Lily (12.19), eventually dropped back to 34th.

Houghton Over-35s secured 14th place thanks to Gillian Tomlinson (12.48), Katherine James (12.47) and Carla King (13.31).

Sunderland Strollers were 16th, through Ashleigh Thorpe (12.24), Dawn Elliott (13.38) and Rachael Ball (13.16).

The winners were North Shields, whose leading runner, Charlotte Penfold, and Morpeth’s Jane Hodgson shared the fastest time (10.29).

Durham University retained the senior men’s title, with Cameron Field (8.48), Callun Elison (8.17 and Sam Whitehead (9.09) the golden trio.

Sunderland finished 10th, with Aidan Crowe (10.00), Sean Mackie (10.06) and Jack Tallentire (10.15).

Houghton were two places behind, courtesy of Alex Brown (9.15), Adam Middleton (10.38) and Shaun Kerry (11.01).