Sunderland Harriers’ Vets in the mix for Blyth 10km medals

Steve McMahon, who has a good chance of lifting a team gold medal in Blyth 10km.
Steve McMahon, who has a good chance of lifting a team gold medal in Blyth 10km.

Leading veterans from the North East and beyond will converge on Blyth on Sunday for the British Masters’ 10km Road Race Championships.

A field of around 700 is expected for the Port of Blyth Open 10km, with veterans from the age of 35 to over 85 years treading the roads and paths of Blyth.

The race was so popular that the organizers, Blyth Running Club, had to put the house full signs up shortly after the race was opened.

Most of Sunderland Harriers’ leading veterans were quick off the mark to gain an entry and they are expected to be among the medallists.

The Wearsiders have strong teams entered in the 35-44 and 45-54 male age groups.

Michael Barker (Over-35), Kevin Jeffress (Over-35) and Steve McMahon (Over-40), have a realistic chance of lifting team gold.

Barker was runner-up in the North Eastern Masters’ Cross Country Championships at Wallsend, while Jeffress returns to competition for only his third race this year.

He competed in the Birtley Cross Country Relays and the Malaga Half Marathon where he finished second Over-35 and sixth overall.

The 39-year-old is targeting the London Marathon where an improvement on his PB 2.35.10 from last year is his target.

McMahon recorded a useful 16.44 5km in early March to win his category in the Podium 5km at Barraford.

The 45-54 age group team will be selected from Paul Blakey (Over-45), Rob Walker (Over-45), Tim Field (Over-50) and Michael Thompson (Over-50).

All of the four are leading athletes in their age groups in the North East with Field winning the Over-50 North Eastern Masters’ Cross Country title.

Blakey is the fastest of the four with a time in his age group of 34.53, Walker is next on 34.53, Field’s Over-50 time is 36.56 and Thompson clocked 34.58 as 49-year-old last year.

Sunderland Strollers will be led by their Olympian Alyson Dixon (Over-40), whose best 10km time in her age group is 35.27.

She competes in her last race before she travels to the States for the Boston Marathon on April 16.

She is the clear favourite in her age group and her clubmate Wendy Chapman will be chasing a medal in the Over-50 category.

Sunderland Harriers have three women entered and a medal is possible with Vicky Haswell (Over-35), Jacqueline Etherington (Over-40) and Michelle O’Neil (Over-50).

Etherington, just back from the World Indoor Championships in Poland, has a best 10km of (39.57).

This is the fifteenth running of the Blyth Valley 10km, now renamed the Port of Blyth 10km.

The race starts at 10am and is run from Blyth Quayside to Seaton Sluice and back, along public footpaths and cycle ways.

The course is officially ratified, it’s very flat and provides an excellent chance of fast times. There is ample parking near the start.

There are limited changing facilities in the new race HQ at Port of Blyth Training Centre.

Awards are: Individual male (one to eight), female (one to eight) and veteran prizes plus first male and female teams.

Race T-shirts will be presented to all finishers. Bonus prizes will be awarded for male and female course records. They are: 2011 Peter Newton (Morpeth Harriers) 30:33 and 2014 Rosie Smith (Durham City Harriers) 34:12.

Sunderland Harriers have bid farewell to their leading women’s endurance runner, Alice Smith, after three years at the club.

She has moved to Pontefract with her family as her husband has secured a new job in the Yorkshire town.

A prolific competitor, who had a unique approach to her racing, where she never thought twice of competing again just days after running a marathon and clocking times close to her best.

She set a number of PBs while with the Harriers, from 5km (18.04) to the marathon (3.01.44).

She also gained North Eastern Counties representatives honours in the Inter Counties Cross Country Championships at Loughborough.