Three Sunderland Harriers are out to defend North East Masters’ Cross Country Championships titles

Oliver James (No 92), who is in good form in the States.
Oliver James (No 92), who is in good form in the States.
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Three Sunderland Harriers defend their titles in the North East Masters’ Cross Country Championships at Wallsend on Saturday.

Kevin Jeffress (over-35), Paul Merrison (over-55) and Peter Richardson (over-60), won their categories at Darlington last year.

Jeffress beat Low Fell’s Jon Archer to win the overall race, while Merrison headed Sunderland Stroller Ken Maynard and Richardson got the better of Gary Pemberton of North East Veterans AC to claim their titles.

Jeffress and Merrison showed good form in last Saturday’s Northern Cross Country Championships, while Richardson was one of the Sunderland over-55 team that won the three-stage Cathedral Cross Country Relay at Durham last month.

Jeffress was joined by Steve McMahon and Tony Allinson to win the over-35 team race last year.

Merrison and Richardson were helped by Fred Judson to finish second team in the over-55 age group to winners Sunderland Strollers, who had Ken Maynard, Kevin Blyth and Malcolm Cox in their line-up.

The Harriers’ over-45 team is also in the hunt for medals with Tim Field, Mick Thompson and Alan Hodgson in the squad.

The Sunderland women’s team is also hopeful of winning team medals for the first time and Nicola Woodward, Colleen Compson, Emma North and Vikki Cotton are the nominated team.

The North East Masters championship awards go to the first three individuals in each five year age group.

Team awards are presented in 10-year age bands for first three teams (three to count), starting from the age of 35, for both age groups.

Time-table: Race 1 at 1.30pm: Women and Men Over-65 5.3k approx, two laps. Race 2 at 12.15pm: Men 35-64. 7.9k approx, three laps. Venue: Burn Closes Dene, Wallsend.

Race headquarters Willington Quay and Howden Boys Club Shaftoe Street, Wallsend, Tyne and Wear NE28 7AL

Six Sunderland Harriers and two reserves have been selected for the North East team that contest the Inter Counties Cross Country Championships at Birmingham, on Saturday, March 12.

The Northern Cross Country Championships on Saturday at Blackburn was the final race for athletes to show form and the following have been selected.

Under-20 Men: Mark Smith, Johnny Howe and Jack Tallentire, Res Chris Bell. Under-20 Women: Jess Fox. Under-15 Girl: Sarah Knight. Under-13 Boy: Connor Prior. Senior Man: Res Nathan Reed.

Houghton Harriers have four athletes and one reserve selected with Under-17 Man: Alex Brown. Under-13: Boys Henry Johnson and Will Bellamy. Under-13 Girl: Nicolle Phillips. Under-15 Boys: Res Matthew Phillips.

Sunderland’s Sophie Burnett (Birtley AC), third in the under-20 race at the Northern Championship on Saturday, is in the under-20 team.

The senior men’s team for Birmingham is: Carl Avery (Morpeth), Peter Newton (Morpeth), Carl Smith (Leeds), Lewis Timmins (Morpeth), Jon Taylor (Morpeth), Greg Jayasuriya (Middles), Phil Wylie (Cheltenham), Dan Jenkin (Durham) and Ross Floyd (Morpeth).

The women’s team is: Rosie Smith (Durham), Emma Holt (Morpeth), Josie Cram (Morpeth), Kate Avery (Shildon), Justina Heslop (Elswick), Alex Sneddon (Jarrow), Danielle Hodgkinson (Birchfield), Alison Dargie (Tyne Bridge) and Mary Ferrier (Gateshead).

Sunderland Harrier Anna Harris broke the over-40 Masters long jump record with a leap of 4.34 in the North East Indoor Championships at Gateshead.

Houghton Harrier Steve Todner won the over-55 Masters 60m sprint in 8.51.

Sunderland Harrier Oliver James, on an athletics scholarship in the States, finished third in the Arkansas State Invitational indoor mile in 4.15.16.

A couple of weeks later he won the indoor 3,000m (8.23.22) in the McNeese State Invitation at Lake Charles.

Sunderland could shortly have its second parkrun at Seaburn to join Silksworth as a venue. An organising team is starting to form, but there is still quite a way to go before the first event.

Dave Purvis from Sunderland City Council and Sun City Tri are pulling together the essential volunteer team.

He knows that once the event is up and running participants will take their turn with marshalling etc, at this stage he needs people who could see themselves as part of the core team.

If you think you would like to get involved contact Dave at