SUNDERLAND Harriers’ veterans were among the medals in the 28th Durham Cathedral Cross-Country Relays that hosted the North East Masters Championships at the Racecourse yesterday.
Gold came the way of the over-45 team of Brian Bewick, 46, Brian Rushworth, 49, and Paul Merrison, 53, who led the race – which combined all age groups from 35-years upwards – until the last 1,000m of the 3x3,000m relay.
They stunned their much younger rivals by opening up a big lead over the first two legs, alongside the banks of the Wear, through superb runs from Bewick and Rushworth.
Bewick led the field of 54 teams on the opening leg, as he galloped in with the fourth-fastest time of the day (10.13). Then Rushworth improved on that with the third-quickest time overall (10.00) to give Merrison a 41-second gap over the North Shields over-40 team.
But the younger legs of Iain Twaddle, with the day’s fastest time (9.39), proved too much for Merrison, who trailed home second (10.41), 21 seconds adrift of the North Tynesiders, but still well clear of second over-45 team Morpeth.
Neil Wilkinson, who ran the anchor leg for Morpeth, recorded the third-fastest time of the day (9.50).
The Wearsiders’ over-55 team of Peter Richardson (12.36), Billy Bittlestone (12.57) and Jim Wightman (13.00) finished 35th overall to clinch the silver medals behind Elswick.
Sunderland also had another two teams in the first 10, with the B team of Paul Redman (10.49), Paul Collins (11.07) and Graham Lancaster (10.59) in eighth and the C team of George Harden (11.14), Alan Hodgson (11.06) and Steven Graham (10.38) 10th.
The E team was 31st, with Kevin Carrahar (12.07), Fred Judson (12.44) and Vince Emmett (12.58).
The F team took 37th, with David Savage (12.42), Dean Phillips (12.46) and Len Christopher (13.18).
Houghton Harriers finished 14th, with Sean McGrath (11.52), Alan Foster 11.44, and Keith Lowery (10.19).
The senior men’s race was won by Morpeth from New Marske and Gateshead, with the hosts Durham in fourth.
The Cathedral club’s Dan Garbutt clocked the fastest overall time of 8.46 when leading the opening leg home. Dan Jenkin (9.36) and Martin Proctor (9.34) were other team members.
Sunderland Harriers finished 18th through Nathan Reed (10.08), Alan Hodgson, running exactly the same time as he did in the veterans’ relay (11.06) and Craig Isherwood (10.08).
Sunderland Strollers finished two places behind their neighbours with Chris Dunn (9.53), Niall McArdle (10.17) and Aynon Khan (11.54).
The women’s race was won by Morpeth from Durham University and the Morpeth B team. Ashley Gibson (Morpeth) was the fastest (10.32) on the course.