SUNDERLAND Harriers scooped two bronze team medals in the Elswick Harriers Four-Stage Road Relays at Newburn.
The record-breaking event saw a total of 145 teams finish the men’s and women’s relays.
The Sunderland senior men were third and that performance was equalled by the club’s veterans’ in their race.
Improving Nathan Reed got the senior men’s team off to a great start on the opening leg. Running with more confidence as of late, the Hall Farm athlete showed a good turn of speed in winning the sprint to the changeover, clocking the fourth equal fastest time of the day (10.29). Craig Isherwood (11.04) was next off and he was 11 seconds faster than last year, although he dropped to third behind Morpeth and Gateshead.
Michael Barker than slipped to fourth (11.35) before anchorman Mark Hood brought the team home in third with his stint of 11 minutes exactly for a total time of 44.06. Morpeth won (42.05) from Gateshead (42.27) whose Chris Parr was the fastest of the day (10.19). Sunderland Strollers finished 14th with Steve Rankin their quickest (11.12).
Brian Rushworth was the Harriers veterans’ kingpin, the 51-year-old, competing against 35-year-olds, clocked the second fastest time of the day (11.12) to ensure the Wearsiders appeared in the frame. Astonishingly his performance was 16 seconds faster than last year, despite having only his second race in nine months following injury.
Sunderland’s Ian Dixon was second on the first leg with the sixth fastest time overall (11.25) before Alan Knebal (12.23) and over-55 Paul Merrison (12.04) closed in. The fastest overall was John Butters of Morpeth (10.59).
Sunderland Strollers were ninth with Phil Turton (12.23), Declan Munelly (13.01), Tim Allsop (12.34) and Steven McMahon (11.52).
Birtley’s youngsters enjoyed a runaway success in the women’s relay, over the same course as the men, with 17-year-old Lydia Turner having a superb run on the anchor leg (11.23), just missing Alyson Dixon’s course record by just two seconds. Robyn Waugh (13.00) and Sophie Burnett, who took Birtley from third and into the lead on the second leg (12.49), were the other team members. Sunderland Harriers finished ninth with Gillian Barry (13.37), Jessica Fox (14.23) and Emily Hope (14.23).
Sunderland Strollers were caught on the line by Tyne Bridge and were given third after being in the lead for the first two legs in the veterans’ women’s relay. Alyson Dixon (11.53) and Ashleigh Thorpe (13.46) were the front runners before Lynn Culkin dropped to third (14.45). Jarrow and Hebburn won (39.54) with Tyne Bridge and the Strollers given the same time of (40.24).
Houghton Harriers won the girls’ under-13 team race by placing twins Eva and Lily Hardie in second and third places and Anna Pigford ninth. In the boys under-13s race Jamie Reed was runner-up, beaten by just one second by Blyth’s Taylor Gover.
H Sunderland Harrier Steven Duffy finished 11th (35.30) and Stroller Terry Allsop was 39th (37.46) in the North Tyneside 10k yesterday.
Results: 1 C Smith (Leeds) 32:07; 2 I Hudspith (Morp, M40) 32:46; 3 R Floyd (Morp) 33:38; 4 C Franks (Gate) 33:59; 5 G Cook (NSP) 34:11.
Women: 1 D Appleton (Hav, W40) 37:58; 2 A Dargie (Tyne Br, W35) 38:23; 3 E Leslie (J&H, W45) 38:48.