SUNDERLAND Harriers have broken the club record with their biggest ever entry for an open cross country race at Durham on Sunday.
The Wearsiders have entered four senior men’s, eight veteran men and four women’s teams for the Durham City Harriers’ three-stage cross country relays at the Racecourse.
Sunderland Harriers’ team manager Albert James has selected a young ‘A’ team to contest the senior relay.
They are 23-year-old Nathan Reed, Liam Roarty (20) and Michael Wilson (19).
Reed with an 8.38.7 3000m personal best should be ideally suited to the fast Durham course.
Wilson, the North East junior 800m champion, back to competition after an injury nightmare, has managed two cross country races so far this season with creditable results.
Irishman Roarty, who attends Sunderland University, is an improving athlete whose strength is over the middle distances.
If the trio manage to get close to the medals they will have done well in the fiercely contested relay.
The last time Sunderland won the event was in 2009.
The Sunderland veterans’ team looks the stronger of the two teams and England masters’ international Kevin Jeffress, Steve Potts and Ian Dixon could feature on the podium.
The Cathedral Relays is for teams of three runners, each runner completing two laps of a fast, mainly flat grass course. Each leg is 3km approx.
There are separate races for veteran men (ages 35 years and over), senior and veteran women (veteran women ages 35 years and over) and senior men.
Competitors must be 16 years of age or over on August 31, of the year prior to the year of the event.
The event incorporates the North East Masters Athletics Association Open Relay Championships.
The programme is the same each year, with the first event, the veteran men’s relay, starting at 10.15am.
The senior and veteran women’s relay starts at 10.55am and the senior men’s race is at 11.35am. Race HQ is Durham University Cricket Pavilion.
There are prizes for the first three senior men’s and women’s teams, the first veteran men’s and women’s team by 10 year age band and fastest leg prizes by five year age band.
Relay runners are asked to be at the race headquarters at least one hour before their event to aid team selection.
Club tents can be erected on the top field behind the cricket scoreboard.
H At the Sunderland Strollers annual presentation night, special awards were given to Alyson Dixon, for being the first Stroller to represent her country at the Commonwealth Games and club chairman Phil Watson who completed his 50th marathon at York in October.
The award for the most improved Stroller was given to Stephen Allen for improving his best time for a range of distances.
He slashed his time for 10 miles by almost nine minutes from 79:48 to 71:05.
The award of Strollers’ Stroller of the Year, voted on by all members, was won by Richard Wilson.
The former newsagent, 61, was nominated for his highly competitive year and being a constant inspiration to others.
His willingness to help anyone in many different ways was also another accolade.
The amount raised by the Strollers for the St Benedict’s Hospice from the pre-Christmas Turkey Trot has passed the £1,500 mark.
Club stalwart Tony Allen has raised a similar amount for the hospice by running 500 miles in December, averaging over 16 miles each day.
An ongoing collection for cancer sufferer Nicola Norton’s fund was topped up to £160 at the awards evening.
Stroller Louise Bolt was delighted to secure matched funding from local businessman Paul Airey.