Sunderland & Houghton Harriers target capital gain in National Cross Country Championships

Gateshead Harrier Lexie Ellis, formerly of Houghton Harriers, won the Under-13 shot (7.46) at the North East Indoor Championships at Gateshead last weekend.
Gateshead Harrier Lexie Ellis, formerly of Houghton Harriers, won the Under-13 shot (7.46) at the North East Indoor Championships at Gateshead last weekend.

Sunderland Harriers and Houghton Harriers will have a small party of runners travelling to London for Saturday’s Saucony English National Cross Country Championships.

When entries closed for the 10 races, the programme had a huge 9472 runners entered.

The course at Parliament Hill on Hampstead Heath is the most popular of all the venues and many North East Clubs will make the long journey to London for the championships.

The Sunderland Harriers down to run are: Senior Men: Sean Bagley, Paul Blakey, Steve McMahon, Alan McManus, Paul Merrison, Andy Powell, Paul Redman, Peter Richardson, Ian Ritchie and Karl Robinson.

Junior Men: Chris Bell, Sean Mackie and Mark Smith. Women: Vikki Cotton.

Houghton Harriers: Senior Men: Lee Dover, Rory Graham, Dave Gribben and Steve Johnson.

Under-15 Boys: Will Bellamy and Henry Johnson. Under-15 Girls: Laura Greggs, Lydia James and Nicole Phillips.

Four events have record entries, with the Senior Women up by 170 on the previous best (set in 2015) to 1694.

Since 2010 there has been a 30% rise in senior women entrants to emphasise the growing number of women attracted to the sport of endurance running.

The Under-13 Boys’ category has a field of 755, an increase of 107 on last year’s record.

Likewise, in the Under-15 Boys’ there is a small increase with 713 entered and the fourth record is in the Junior Women’s championship where 280 are down to run. This is 22 up on last year.

There are six other age groups in action and they all have good entry numbers.

The Under-13 Girls’ have 648 entries – the best number since 1996, while 634 have entered the Under-15 Girls’ race. This is best field since 1998.

High numbers continue in the Under-17 Women’s race with 407 entered. The Under-17 Men have 536 on the programme and in the Junior Men’s event the number is 371.

The biggest event is the Senior Men’s race which has 3428 entries.

This year’s event at Parliament Hill is the 16th time that a championship has been held at this venue since the first in 1950.

In last Saturday’s North East Road Relay Championships at Hetton, the fastest veteran in Sunderland Harriers victorious Over-40 men’s team was Rob Walker with 11.37 and Ian Dixon’s was timed at 11.43.

The Sunderland Harriers’ Over-35 silver medal winning Over-35 women’s team was Vicky Haswell (14.15), Alice Smith (13.00) Linda Mudford (14.51) and Nicola Woodward (13.56).

In the North East Indoor Championships at Gateshead, Sunderland Harriers won a number of medals.

Sunderland Harrier Jordan Beavers won a full set of medals with his win in the Under-20 60m (7.45). He was second in the long jump with a club record of 6.06, and third in the triple jump (11.48).

Declan Murray won the Under-20 pole vault with a height of 3.70 and Alix Waites took bronze in the senior women’s 60m with her time of 8.42.

Anna Harris claimed two golds with first in the Over-45 60m (8.94) and first long jump in a club record (4.51).

A group of Houghton Harriers, now with Gateshead, were among the medals headed by Under-20 Washington’s Tom Bowdon, who took gold in the Under-20 triple jump (12.48).

Matthew Lumb won the Under-15 Boys’ long jump (5.16m) and took silver in the 60m (7.57).

Philippa Ellis won her speciality the Under-17 Women’s 60m hurdles (8.93) and took silver in the shot (10.87) and long jump (5.09). Her sister Lexie won the Under-13 shot (7.46).