SUNDERLAND Harriers will be targeting the men’s team competition in the 27th running of the Darlington 10k on Sunday.
The Wearsiders will be sending a small squad for the three-to-count contest, which starts at 10am.
Kevin Jeffress, Michael Barker and Steve Potts will be the athletes that the club will be relying on to challenge for a place on the prize list.
Whether they will be good enough to carry off the first prize could depend on the strength of the other club’s travelling to the market town.
Jeffress, a recent signing for the city club from Tyne Bridge Harriers, has been racing better than ever after having a more structured training programme laid out for him by club endurance coach Richie Tough.
The Seaham runner, a regular at the Harriers’ training base at Silksworth, joins his team mates for Tuesday night sessions on the synthetic track.
The benefit of his new approach to his training has seen a big improvement to his consistency of performance.
The 35-year-old has recently won the big Northumberland 14 miles Coastal Run from Beadnell to Alnmouth and also finshed third in the Penshaw Hill race and his former club’s Bridges of the Tyne 5 mile road race in Newcastle.
Barker’s season has been beset by injury problems, having spent most of the season testing his fitness by competing and winning the Sunderland parkrun at Silksworth.
He dropped out of the Sunderland 5k but then popped up the next day to win the Stockton Tees Trail 5k on July 17.
Potts has been an irregular racer but he did finish ninth in the Darlington Pit Stop 10k in June and just failed to break the 17 minute barrier in the Sunderland 5k.
On standby in case of any slip-ups is over-50 Paul Redman, who is one of the favourites for his age category award.
The course is unchanged from last year and the course records set in 2008 by Alyson Dixon (33.39) and in 2011 by Yared Hagos (30.06), still stand. £150 is on offer, if the course records are broken.
Dixon is one of 37 Strollers entered and it remains to be seen if the Silksworth runner turns out so soon after her disappointment of dropping out of the Commonwealth Games marathon with injury.
The Darlington 10k is part of the Strollers’ grand prix.
The current standings see Joy Champion as top of the table with 1057 points and Michael Edwards is second with 1039. In third place is John New with 1009 points and Jenna Maynard (797) is second woman.
The Strollers have an ideal warm-up before Sunday when they host the Gallery Jewellers’ Cup tonight at Silksworth Sports Complex.
This is an age graded handicap between Sunderland Strollers and South Shields Harriers, which the two clubs host every other year.
The handicap times are based on age on race day. The first six male and female runners to finish from each club will be the counters. After the race, the presentation will take place at Ashbrooke.
The Strollers, who won first prize for winning the combined men’s and women’s team titles in the Sunderland City Half marathon and 10k races in May, were in Dublin on Monday competing in the Dublin Rock ’n Roll half marathon, as their prize.
Results were limited, but Andrew Powell clocked 1.26.42 and Steve Rankin 1.27.53.