SUNDERLAND Harriers are sending their strongest team for years to the Northern12-Stage Road Relay Championships at Catterick on Sunday.
Despite clashing with the English Schools’ Cross Country Championships and the North East Veterans’ Championships on Saturday, club secretary Michael Hill has managed to select a decent team.
He said: “With athletes competing at both the schools and veterans events, we have lost some runners who would have made the team. But some of our veterans’ are prepared to double up and that has eased the pressure on team selection.’’
Hill is basing his team around the club’s leading lights who have all declared they are available for selection. Patrick Martin and his brother Jack, Mark Hood and Gavin Massingham will certainly give the 12-man team a boost.
Patrick has had a superb winter season with fifth place in the Northern Cross Country Championships and a personal best of 29.42 in the Trafford 10k on Sunday among his highlights.
Brother Jack emerged for the first time since October to compete in Saturday’s North East Harrier League at Blaydon and stole the show with a marvelous performance. He clocked the fastest time of the day and showed he is on the way back after a troublesome time with injury nightmares. Jack has got round his problem by reorganizing his training.
The 23-year-old based in Manchester said: “I don’t do any sessions now, so I make it for it by doing cross training. I go in the gym early in the morning instead of going out for a run. Then at night I train with Patrick and do a 60-minute run. I was quite surprised and pleased with my run on Saturday as I was feeling really good. I intend to keep this programme going and race more often to use them as my speed work instead of track sessions.’’
Hood is another athlete that has been off the scene for a long time due to illness and injury, he also bounced back to form on Saturday at Blaydon with a solid run. Like the Martin brothers, the Chester-le-Street primary school teacher will be doing a long leg of four miles in the relay, while Massingham has selected a short leg of two miles.
The other athletes up for selection are Paul Besford, Tim Field, Damien Weston, Jon Dobson, Paul Collins, Paul Redman Jason Waite, Rob Rush, Steven Gordon Steven Duffy and Brian Rushworth.
Rushworth will be at Whitley Bay on Saturday for the North East Veterans’ Cross Country Championships where the 48-year-old will be out to maintain his unbeaten record since he turned a veteran at the age of 40. This will depend on the Achilles’ tendon injury he has been nursing over his last few races and the ongoing problem will also be a decisive factor on whether he turns out at Catterick on Sunday.
Sunderlands won their last medals (bronze) in the 12-Stage relay at Blackpool in 2003.
H The Sherman Cup and Davison Shield results show that Morpeth Harriers won both trophies for men and women. Sunderland Harriers were runners-up in the Sherman Cup at Blaydon.
The Sunderland team counters were senior men: Jack Martin, Mark Hood and Jake Archer. Under-17s - Oliver James, Jack Kelly and Phillip Coulson. Under-15s – Hugh Danby-Platt, Joel Jones and Luca Irvine. Under-13s – Jack Robinson, Kieran Watson and Ben Johnson.
Medals will be awarded at the final Harrier League fixture at Prudhoe a week on Saturday.