Sunderland Harriers made the long journey to Birkenhead worthwhile yesterday in the Northern Athletics Senior Men’s 12-stage Road Relay Championships.
The Wearsiders finished 18th team to qualify for the National final at Sutton Coldfield on April 14.
They had to finish inside the first 25 teams to do so and they now join Morpeth Harriers, who finished ninth, Tyne Bridge, in 15th, and Gateshead Harriers, in 20th, to carry the North East flag in the Midlands.
Consistent running throughout from the Wearsiders consolidated their performance, varying between 12th and 18th throughout the near 50-mile event.
Andy Powell, who has been enjoying good form of late, got the city club off to a good start in finishing 12th in the fastest club time for the long leg of 24min 9sec.
Next off was Over-45 veteran Robert Walker and he also pulled out superb performance by recording 12.25 for the Harriers’ top performance over the short stage, despite losing two positions.
Kevin Jeffress was next off and the London Marathon-bound man also had a fine run to finish 15th (24.53).
Just back from serious back problems, Michael Laws did not disappoint and he maintained that spot with his stint of 12.58.
Steve McMahon then dropped to 17th (25.36) before junior Sean Mackie pulled a place back with his solid performance of 12.44.
Steven Duffy, who heads to the Manchester Marathon in two weeks, clocked 27.11 on leg seven to drop to 17th, before handing over to another junior, in Joe Pomfret, who edged into 16th (13.09).
Club captain Nathan Reed, having his first race for months after being on the sidelines with Achilles tendon problems, recorded 12.53 on leg nine for 16th place, before new man Craig Gunn, making his club debut, came home in 12.55.
Jake Jansen then climbed to 15th (13.16) before handing over to anchor man Jimmy Johnson, who was brought into the team at the 11th hour, to finish 18th (15.02).
Lincoln Wellington won the gold medals in 3.11.31, with Salford second (3.13 58) and Stockport third.
Stockport’s team included former Sunderland Harrier Jack Martin, who contributed the second fastest time over the long leg (22.41).
The fastest long leg runner on the course was Martin’s clubmate Ross Millington (22.27). James Bowness (Trafford) was the quickest short leg runner (11.04).