SUNDERLAND Harriers senior men’s team suffered their worst result of the season in the Start Fitness North East Harrier League at Wallington Hall on Saturday.
The Wearsiders finished 10th and last and slipped back to sixth in the league, only two points off a relegation spot.
With only one fast pack man and one medium pack man in their team, it was always going to be tough going for the depleted squad, relying on their slow pack men in the handicap 10k race.
While all the team ran their socks off, in realizing the situation they were in, it was just not good enough for the fiercely-fought team competition of the First Division.
It was fast pack man Craig Isherwood, with a five minutes handicap, that led the way for the city club, finishing 29th (37.47) for the seventh fastest time of the day. Morpeth’s Carl Avery claimed the quickest time with 35.42 for seventh place.
Slow pack man John Hunt was next home for Sunderland with his best league run, finishing 49th (43.18) then medium packer Paul Merrison was 99th (41.49), Paul Redman finished 147th (44.57), George Harden 162nd (45.25) and Tony Allinson closed the scoring in 206th (46.34).
League positions: 1 Tyne Bridge 7pts, 2 Gateshead 9, 3 Durham 11, 4 Morpeth 13, 5 North Shields 17, 6 Sunderland 20, 7 South Shields 20, 8 Heaton 21, 9 Low Fell 22, 10 Wallsend 25.
Sunderland Strollers finished third in their Second Division Two match and are third in the league. Their counters were Kel Scott 36th (42.59), Thomas Clark 50th (43.19), Tim Allsop 63rd (43.34), Gavin Sword 90th (44.10), Ritchie Gerry 122nd (44.52) and Ken Maynard 140th (42.27).
There was not much joy for Sunderland Strollers and Sunderland Harriers women who both finished 10th in their respective First and Second Divisions.
Sunderland Harrier medium pack runner Judith Thirwell was the only runner from the two clubs to make the first 100, finishing 22nd (31.30). The fastest on the course was Morpeth’s Emma Holt, finishing sixth in an actual time of 27.39.
There was a better result for Sunderland Harriers’ under-17 men’s team who beat Gateshead by two points to go top of the league. They had Sam Harris sixth (24.38), Kyle Howard 10th (27.56) and Chris Bell 13th (25.41) to thank for their victory.
Houghton Harrier Alex Brown, in second, was the second fastest of the day in the under-17s (23.05). The club also had Anna Pigford first under-13 girl and Henry Johnson third under-13 in the boys’ race.
Birtley’s Lydia Turner is bound for the European Cross Country Championships in Bulgaria on Sunday, December 14, after finishing third in the Under-20 trials at Liverpool on Saturday.
Turner (14.57) had opened a gap after the first lap but was eventually hauled in by the winner, Jessica Judd (Chelmsford), who won in 14.45.
Sunderland Stroller Alyson Dixon finished 17th (28.27) in the women’s race won by Charnwood’s Gemma Steel (26.58). Morpeth’s Olympian Laura Weightman was 12th (28.04) and Durham’s Rosie Smith finished 14th (28.16).
A thrilling finale in the senior men’s competition saw Callum Hawkins (29:26) triumph in a Scottish one-two to pip Andrew Butchart (29:28) .
Richmond’s Marc Scott was ninth (29.44), Morpeth had Jon Taylor in 10th (29.46), former Sunderland Harriers’ Patrick and Jack Martin were 13th (30.07) and 15th (30.09) respectively. Durham had Dan Jenkin in 50th (31.05) and their Northern Cross Country Champions Dan Garbutt was 65th (31.24).