Sunderland Harriers go into the Sherman Cup and Davison Shield with doubts over their ability to field full strength teams at South Shields on Saturday
The competitions are the biggest test of a club’s cross country strength in the North East.
Sunderland Harriers secretary Michael Hill said: “We lost out last year when we failed to finish a team in both competitions. We were one runner short of a full team in both categories. This relegated us to fourth place finishers.
“It is always very disappointing for the rest of the team when this happens and we lose out on medals. We will be trying our best to make amends for this on Saturday.”
The five events for the Sherman Cup for men and the Davison Shield for women cover all age groups from under-13s to veterans.
In each of the events, the first three runners from each club to finish will determine the team score. The total points of each of the age groups are added together to deliver the winners.
It is in the Under-17 men’s age group that the club is lacking in numbers and failure to finish a team will result in no points scored. With the women, the problems of numbers lies in the Under-13 girls’ age group.
Sunderland Harriers first won the Sherman Cup competition in 1989 and they have gone on to win the trophy eight times with their last victory coming in 2000. They have regularly appeared in the frame since then, but first place has been beyond them. The club’s female team’s best finishing position came in the 2014/15 season when they finished second.
Houghton Harriers, who have never featured in the medals in either of the competitions, are on the march and could see a first medal winning run on Saturday in both competitions. Their Under-15 boys’ and girls’ teams won bronze medals in the Northern Athletics Cross Country Relays on Saturday and will be favorites to win these team titles at Temple Park.
The club has improved leaps and bounds in the endurance section of the club under coach Lynn Cooper, a double Scottish Commonwealth Games marathon runner. They will be pulling out all stops to improve on their results of last year where they finished fifth in the Sherman Cup but failed to finish a team in the women’s competition.
Timetable (times are approx): 12.15 Under-11 Boys and Girls, 12.25 Under-13 Boys, 12.35 Under-13 Girls, 12.45 Under-15 Boys, 12.55 Under-15 Girls, 13.05 Under-17 and Under-20 Women, 13.10 Senior and Veteran Women, 13.50 Under-17 Men, 14.15 Senior and Veteran Men.
l Two Sunderland Harriers, Oliver James and Jessica Fox, studying at McNeese State University at Lake Charles, Louisiana, in the United States on an athletics’ scholarship, are prominent members of the cross country team. They competed in the Princeton Cross Country Invitational in New Jersey and James finished second team counter for the McNeese Cowboys team that finished eighth and Fox was fifth scorer for the McNeese Cowgirls that finished 11th.
l The first race in Sunderland Harriers’ club championship, based over three events, got off its mark at Farringdon on Saturday. The handicap cross country race over approximately 3000m saw Under-20 Junior Sean Mackie take the honours and he was followed by 12-year-old Dillon Revell with Michael Laws in third.
Results with the actual time recorded by the athlete are: 1 Sean Mackie 9.52, 2 Dillon Revell (Under-13) 11.53, 3 Michael Laws 9.56, 4 Rob Walker (V45) 9.58, 5 Alex O’Donnell (Under-13) 12.06, 6 Chris Bell 10.16, Jack Tallantire 10.18, Cameron Lawton (Under-15) 11.19, 9 Simon O’Donnell (V40) 10.32, 10 Aidan Crowe 10.45.
l Anthony Erskine finished 124th in a field of 335 in the Ultra Tour of Edinburgh. The Harrier covered the 33 miles distance in 6.50.57.
l Sunderland Harriers team manager Albert James took in the Dresden Marathon on a short break to Germany. The former 800m junior international, making his debut over the 26 miles 365 yards, conquered the distance accompanied by clubmate Deborah Smith in 5hr.18.11.