Third time lucky for Franks in Sunderland Strollers’ Pier-to-Pier run?

Action from last year's Sunderland Strollers Pier-to-Pier race.
Action from last year's Sunderland Strollers Pier-to-Pier race.

Sunderland Strollers have a full house for their popular Pier-to-Pier race from South Shields to Roker on Sunday.

The house full signs went up a few weeks ago when the Ashbrooke club reached their maximum number of 1,250 entries.

The record-breaking race which had 1128 finishers last year, allows competitors to choose their own route to Roker, although they have to keep off the highway.

There will be a new race winner this year as last year’s champion Jarrow and Hebburn’s Andy Burn is out injured, but runner-up Conrad Franks (Gateshead) is down to race.

He has finished second twice previously in 2010 and 2011 and will be eager to notch up his first win.

His most recent performance was in the London Marathon where he clocked 2.31.21.

Sunderland Harriers’ hopes for a top three performance lie with Ian Ritchie, who is also entered in the North Eastern Counties 5,000m championship at Gateshead on Sunday, and Simon O’Donnell.

Ritchie finished eighth last year while O’Donnell, a previous winner, has his second race for the Harriers’ following his transfer from Morpeth Harriers.

The women’s race could see the Strollers’ Over-40 veteran Wendy Chapman win the race after showing good form in the Sunderland 10km on Sunday where she finished third woman.

The race starts on the beach at South Shields Pier (10am) and follows a scenic route along the cliff paths past Marsden Rock and Souter Lighthouse. It rejoins the beach at Whitburn and finishes at Roker Pier.

Runners must keep off public highways, failure to do so will result in disqualification.

Transport is available from Roker to South Shields (£2 – pay on the day – first come first served). There is no transport after the race.

There is a two hour cut off finish time and a water station at Souter Lighthouse. The race distance is approximately seven miles.

H The North East Track and Field Championship at Gateshead on Saturday and Sunday has attracted 468 entries.

There has been a marked increase in the senior men’s 5,000m entries where 20 have been received including six Sunderland Harriers in Kevin Calvert, Ian Ritchie, Kevin Jeffress Joseph Pomfret, Jack Talentire and Ian Dixon.

Houghton Harrier Philippa Ellis scored a treble success in the Tynedale Open Athletics meeting at Hexham. She won the Under-15 75m hurdles (11.51), 100m (12.71) and shot (9.19).

Sunderland Harrier Alex Waites won the senior women’s 400m (62.27), Eve Quinn was second in the 3,000m (11.30.11) and Jade Thirlwell was second in the Under-15 800m (2.42.94).

H Sunderland Strollers’ women held onto second place by just one second after Birtley just failed to catch them in the North East Masters’ Road Relay Championships at Bedewell Park, Jarrow.

The race was won by Jarrow and Hebburn AC with Angela McGurk (11.43), Elaine Leslie (11.44) and Heather Robinson (12.45), for a winning time of 36.12.

The Strollers times were Ashleigh Bennett (12.17), Gillian Ritchie (12.07) and Wendy Chapman (12.14), for a total time of 36.38.

Sunderland Harriers finished fourth in 36.57 with the team of Nikki Woodward (11.48), Colleen Compson (13.11) and Vicky Younger (11.58).

The club’s Over-45 teams were fifth with Denise Forster (14.57), Catherine Morris (14.35) and Debbie McRory (15.34).

Sunderland Harriers’ won the Over-65 men’s relay held in conjunction with the women’s relay. The team was Peter Richardson (13.05), Billy Bittlestone (14.27) and Jim Wightman (14.09).

In senior men’s relay, Sunderland Harriers took the bronze medals in the Over-45 event through Alan Hodgson (10.53), Tim Field (10.36) and Paul Merrison (11.13).

Sunderland Strollers finished fifth Over-35 team with Jamie Collin (10.43), Luke McCormack (10.54) and Mark Anderson (10.31).

Wallsend Harriers host their Gordon Smith Memorial Road Relays tonight at West Allotment Country Park (7.30pm).

The men’s relay is over three legs of 3x2 miles and one of the runners must be an over-40 veteran or older.

Sunderland Harries defend their title with Andy Powell, Ian Ritchie and veteran Michael Thompson the likely team. The club also have a women’s team entered with Vicky Younger, Alice Smith and Nikki Woodward.

Registration, presentation and refreshments at Cobalt offices next to Spud and Lettuce Cafe, Silver Fox Way, Cobalt Business Park, NE2 0QJ. Parking is available at Building 23. Please note: No changing facilities.