Sunderland Harriers out in force at Championships

COLD RUN OUT: Brass Monkey Strollers.
COLD RUN OUT: Brass Monkey Strollers.
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SUNDERLAND Harriers will turn out their largest and strongest senior men’s team for a number of years in the Northern Athletics Cross Country Championships at Pontefract on Saturday.

A total of 17 athletes and a team that can gain a place in the top ten will be in action at the Pontefract race course.

They will compete over the 12k distance over the relatively fast course with an uphill finish.

For a couple of athletes this will be their final chance to catch the North East selectors eye for the forthcoming Inter Counties Cross Country Championships at Birmingham in March.

Kevin Jeffress and Craig Isherwood have a slight chance of making the 15 names going forward after their impressive performances in the North East Championships at Newcastle’s Town Moor.

They finished 12th and 13th respectively and they will need an outstanding race to nudge the selectors, who meet at Gateshead Stadium the following day to select the teams.

The six-to-count team race will see Michael Barker, Liam Roarty, Ian Dixon, Nathan Reed and Michael Laws joining Jeffress and Isherwood in the Sunderland team for Pontefract.

Also in contention for Birmingham are Jessica Fox in the junior women’s and Sean Mackie in the under-15 boys, who will need to improve on their North Eastern Championship performance to clinch a place in the eight strong teams.

Sunderland have tasted individual and team success over the years and their winners are 1938 Arthur Ridley (youths), 1966 Brooks Mileson (youths), 1985 Stewart Mathieson (boys under-15), 1989 Brian Rushworth (seniors),1994 Stephen Barker (boys under-15), 2000 Jill Scott (girls under-13) and 2013 Wenay Ghebresilasie (junior men).

Houghton Harriers have a number of youngsters coached by former women’s champion Lynn Cooper in contention for a place in the North East teams.

They are under-17 men Alex Brown, under-15 Jamie Reed, under-13s Eva Hardie, Lily Hardie and Anna Pigford and under-13s Henry Johnson and Will Bellamy.

H Sunderland Harriers competing in the National Young Peoples Cross Country Championships for the county team at Essex enjoyed a successful day.

They had winners in Jessica Fox, Sean Mackie and under-17 Chris Bell with Johnny Howe, Jack Smith and Kyle Howard following him home. Sean Mackie’s sister Grace was fifth in the under-13s.

H Sunderland Strollers were out in force at Sunday’s Brass Monkey half-marathon.

The appropriately-named event, which was run in near freezing temperatures, starts and finishes at York Racecourse.

Fifteen Strollers took part in a field of over 1450 runners, with many clocking personal best times for the distance, despite the course being icy in places.

Personal best times were achieved by Aidan Crowe, first Stroller home in 81:18 (previous best 90:29), Luke McCormack 85:18 (87:37), Dan Anderson 86:56 (88:50) and Ashleigh Ewen 93:51 (95:55).

Sunderland Harrier Peter Richardson was first over-60, clocking 1.29.43.

H Fulwell bricklayer Fred Judson, pictured left, has won his first medal after 27 years in the sport.

Competing for the Sunderland Harriers’ over-55 team, he teamed up with Paul Merrison and Peter Richardson to win the silver medals in the Durham Cathedral Relays.

He said: “I was a bit disappointed with my run, but being presented with the silver medal made up for it.

“I didn’t think I was fit enough to run for the team but captain Dean Phillipps forced my hand. I’ve thanked him for that now!”