Under-17s a cause for concern for Sunderland Harriers after failing to field a team for the Sherman Cup

Start of the Women's Davison Shield race at South Shields. Picture by Hudson Stoker.
Start of the Women's Davison Shield race at South Shields. Picture by Hudson Stoker.

For the second year running Sunderland Harriers failed to turn out a team in the Under -17 Men’s age group in the Sherman Cup Cross Country event at South Shields on Saturday.

This ruled out any chance of them getting in to the frame in the competition, which is based on the overall strength of the club’s five male age groups.

Only five clubs managed to finish teams of three and only 27 runners finished the event, while other age groups continue to grow at a rapid rate.

Indeed, the numbers competing in the Sherman Cup Under-17 Men’s age group have not been improved since the 1990s.

But there were record entries in the Davison Shield Senior and Veteran Women’s race (350) plus Under-13 Girls (75) and Under-15 Girls (57).

The Under-17 Men’s age group is a real concern for clubs and Sunderland are trying to address this situation by organizing club endurance events for all age groups. This hopefully, will lead to more interest for Under-17s to give cross country a go.

Then, if this recruitment is successful, they will come under the guidance of accredited club coaches Ken Jefferson, John Archer and Michael Hill, to guide them into open competition and a Sherman Cup place for next season.

At the other end of the age spectrum, the veteran women, there are no concerns with numbers.

Sunderland Harriers, as well as competing in the Davison Shield, sent a team to Derbyshire to compete in the British Masters’ Cross Country Relay Championships.

The team of three came away with the bronze medals at Long Eaton Park.

On the opening leg Jacqueline Etherington finished second with the day’s fourth fastest time of 11.46, Vicky Haswell then slipped to third (12.49) before Nicola Woodward maintained that spot with the sixth fastest time overall (12.15). The fastest time came from Claire Martin (Telford) 10.50.

Result: 1 Rotherham 35.53, 2Telford 36.33, 3 Sunderland 36.50, 4 Heanor RC 37.21, 5 Barnsley 38.09, 6 Charnwood 38.29.

USA-based Sunderland Harriers’ Oliver James and Jess Fox had good runs competing for McNeese State University in the Southland Conference Championships in Abilene, Texas.

James completed the 8km course in 25 minutes exactly to finish ninth, while Fox finished 26th in her race.

The second running of the Morpeth to Newcastle Road Race, which was due to be held last Sunday, was cancelled as the organisers went out of business.

Total Racing International Limited had originally said that runners would receive a full refund on their entry fees after the company entered liquidation.

The organisers hoped that another company would take the race on, but this failed to happen.

Now the administrators have said that entry fee money will not be repaid after all. The entry fee was £42 and for relay teams the cost was £100.

Sunderland Strollers were out in force in the Run Nation Hexham 10km, with John Cook finishing runner-up in PB (34.51) to Max Pearson, of Tynedale (34.41).

Ritchie Gerry was 12th for first Over-50 (38.11) then came Andrew Duke 13th (38.31), John Sayer 15th (38.38), Gary Dunmore 33rd (42.25), Brian Carroll 45th (44.02) and 50th Dale Wilkinson (45.07).

Sunderland Harrier David White was first Over-65 in 75th (47.04).

Durham City Harrier Joasia Zakrzewski finished 10th in 37.56 to win the women’s race. Sunderland Stroller Jen Deighton was 28th and first Over-45 (41.54).