Sunderland Harriers qualified for the senior men’s National Six-Stage Road Relay final in the Northern Championship at Manchester yesterday.
The Wearsiders improved on last year’s result by 17 places to finish 15th team and well inside the top 25 qualifying positions.
After a steady start by Andy Powell on the opening 6k leg to finish 39th (17min 53sec), from more than 100 teams taking part, they improved their position over the remaining legs.
Next off was Kevin Jeffress, who lifted the royal blue vests to 26th with his circuit of 17.51, and he was followed by the club’s fastest runner, Steve McMahon, who raised the city club to 19th (17.31) at halfway.
Sparrow Morley maintained that position with his stint (17.53) on leg four before new club member Barry Maskell improved two places to 17th with his effort of 17.54.
Now it was left to junior and under-20 Jack Tallentire, called into the team at the last minute, to maintain the momentum.
And he did so with gusto, improving two places to finish 15th (for a total time of 1.47.31. He clocked 18.29 to just fail to catch Gateshead Harriers by nine seconds.
Chris Parr, on leg one, had recorded 16.23 for the Tynesiders..
The race was won by Liverpool (1.40.04) followed by Derby (1.40.34). Morpeth were third (1.40.52), with Peter Newton, on 16.12, the third fastest runner overall, behind the quickest, Liverpool’s Johnny Mellor, with 15.59.
Former Sunderland Harrier Patrick Martin was the 10th fastest (16.28) in an incomplete Stockport team.
The Sunderland B team finished 52nd, with Steve Duffy (19.04), Matthew Davison (19.19), Michael Edwards (19.48), Jake Jenson (19.03), Craig Harriman (20.01) and Johnny Howe (20.22).
Leeds City won the women’s race, with Birtley sixth.
The Birtley team featured Lisa Short (19.20), Chloe Price (18.10), Sophie Burnett (18.06) and Lydia Turner (17.30).
In the Redcar Half Marathon yesterday, Sunderland Harrier Alice Smith finished third woman (1hr 28min 46sec) behind the winner, Elswick’s Judith Nutt (1.25.10).
Sunderland’s Coleen Compson was third over-40 in 1.38.33.
The race winner was James Dunce of Tyne Bridge in 1.11.52. Sunderland Strollers had Jamie Collin in 13th (1.20.29) and Mark Anderson 14th (1.20.40).
Sunderland Harrier over-50 Paul Redman was 35th (1.25.46) and Tony Allinson clocked 1.33.13
Sunderland Harrier Conner Prior finished first Under-13 and second overall in young athletes race at the Blaydon Miners’ event.