Sunderland Harriers’ Senior Men’s team look to build up a head of steam in Northern Athletics Championships

Nathan Reed, who has returned to competitive action
Nathan Reed, who has returned to competitive action

Sunderland Harriers Senior Men’s team are one of five North East clubs travelling to Birkenhead for the Northern Athletics 12-Stage Road Relay Championship on Sunday.

The others clubs are: Morpeth, Gateshead, Tyne Bridge and Blackhill Bounders. There are a total of 48 clubs and 63 teams entered.

Sunderland had hoped to host the championships for the first time at Herrington Country Park, but an inspection of the intended course ruled the venue out as the pathways were in a poor state.

Now they face the long journey to Birkenhead and the cost of paying for overnight accommodation instead of having the event on their doorstep.

Team Manager Albert James said: “We are disappointed we will not be at Herrington Country Park.

“We thought it would have made a good venue, but were left disappointed.

“We had been forced to move from hosting the championship at Silksworth Sports Complex through lack of car parking facilities. We had used this venue for many years.

“We travel with not our strongest team, but I’m sure they will give a performance that will do them justice. I’m looking for an improvement on last year’s position.”

The team bids to beat their position at Blackpool’s Stanley Park last year where they finished fourth North East club in 19th.

The Sunderland team is: Andy Powell, Sean Mackie, Kevin Jeffress, Steve McMahon, Robert Walker, Michael Laws, Steven Duffy, Joseph Pomfret, Jimmy Johnson, Craig Gunn, Jake Jansen and Nathan Reed.

Club captain Reed makes his comeback to competition after being on the sidelines with an Achilles’ tendon injury.

The host club Wallasey AC have come up with a course that is a flat circuit around the traffic-free park roads and paths. Athletes compete over four long legs of approximately 8.5k and eight short legs of approximately 4.3k.

The first 25 teams to finish will qualify for the National Championship at Sutton Coldfield on Saturday, April 14.

The Sunderland Harriers’ Cross Country Grand Prix came to its conclusion at the final Harrier League of the season at Alnwick on Saturday.

Points are earned for competing in Championship and Harrier League events throughout the season and an extra point earned if you are a team counter.

For the first time, a woman, Vikki Cotton, has won the title and earned the first prize of £150.

She tied on points with Paul Redman, but won the competition as she counted for the women’s team more times than Redman counted for the men’s team. They both scored 48 points.

In third place was club Run Leader Alan McManus with 44 points, followed by Alice Smith on 32 points and Paul Merrison has the same points total as Smith, but was beaten on countback.

Houghton Harriers had three athletes finishing in the first three in the Start Fitness North Eastern Harrier League Cross Country Grand Prix.

Henry Johnson won the Under-15 competition and his clubmate Will Bellamy was second. Eva Hardie was third Under-17/20 woman.

There were no medals for the North East in the English Schools’ Cross Country Championships at Temple Newsham Park, Leeds on Saturday

Durham had a number of good performances, headed by India Pentland’s fifth place and Catherine Roberts 21st position in the Intermediate Girls’ race.

West Wearside’s and Houghton Harriers’ Lydia James (56th) and Anna Pigford 69th, also ran well in the team that finished seventh.

The Junior Girls saw Chester-le-Street’s Emily Chong in 23rd and West Wearside’s Amy Leonard in 53rd lead the Durham team home.

Birtley’s Chris Perkins finished 13th in the Junior Boys and his great rival, Northumberland’s Joshua Blevins, was 20th.

Houghton Harrier Will Bellamy, in 39th, was first home for the Durham Intermediates team, while Cleveland’s Archie Lowe, the Northern Champion, finished 19th. Northumberland’s Sam Charlton was sixth.

Rhian Purvis in 15th was Durham’s first counter in the Senior Girls’ race. Sunderland Harriers’ Sarah Knight was second counter in 118th and Eve Quinn fourth Durham runner over the line in144th.

In his first season in the sport, Sunderland Harrier Joe Pomfret was third scorer in the Durham Senior Boys’ team in153rd.

Northumberland’s and Morpeth Harrier Rory Leonard, the Inter Counties Under-17 champion, finished fifth.