Sunderland Harriers dominated the North East Masters Road Relay Championships at Hebburn by placing two teams in the first three, writes Kevin Carr.
The Sunderland Over-35-44 team and the Over-45-54 team finished first and third respectively out of 63 competing teams.
Both teams came from behind, in an exciting finish on the last leg, to clinch gold in their category.
The Over-35s were led off by Ian Dixon and he clocked 9.55 to finish fourth behind Gateshead’s Conrad Franks, who won the leg with the fastest time of the day (9.43). Gosforth were second (Alastair Johnson -9.47) and Blackhill Bounders third (Gary Wallace - 9.49).
Next off for Sunderland was Michael Barker and he lifted the team into second with his stint of 9.59 to finish behind Gateshead’s Steven Asquith (10.00).
It was now left to anchorman Steve McMahon to attempt to claw back the 11 seconds lead that Gateshead held, and he did so with relish, recording 9.56 to bring the Wearsiders home first in 29.50. Gateshead slipped back and finished in 30.05 with Steven Medd (10.22).
Meanwhile, behind the first two, Sunderland Over-45s were busy splitting the Over-35 teams with their surprising push for a place in the frame.
They hold the course record in this category with 28.18 from 2012 which is faster than the Over-35 record set by Morpeth (28.33) in 2013. Sunderland’s Brian Rushworth holds the Over-45 individual record with 9.01 from 2012.
Sunderland got off to a steady start with the oldest man in the team, Over-50 Michael Thompson, finishing 10th on the opening leg (10.19). Then Rob Walker took over and he put the team in contention with his superb 10.08 leg before Paul Blakey did the business with his 10.33 time to squeeze home (31.00) just ahead of Tyne Bridge on the same time and Gosforth (31.02).
Morpeth finished seventh overall (31.52) to finish second Over-45 to Sunderland with Jarrow and Hebburn third (33.32).
The Sunderland Harriers Over-35 C team finished eighth (35.44) with Chris Jackson 10.15, Steven Gordon 11.10 and Sam Thirlbeck (10.52).
The Sunderland Over-45 D team finished fourth in their category with Paul Collins 10.54, Alan Knebel 11.37 and Darren Stoker 11.26.
Sunderland Strollers Over-35s finished 15th with Mark Anderson 10.01, Luke McCormack 11.23 and Rob Ayre 12.22.
Morpeth Harriers won (34.21) the women’s relay from Darlington (36.21) and North Shields (36.52). Morpeth’s Jane Hodgson was the quickest overall (11.05)
Sunderland Strollers finished seventh with Julie Pescod 13.53, Hasina Khanom 13.12 and Wendy Chapman 11.56 and their Over 45 team finished fourth in their category with Jan Prater 14.22, Lyne Valentine 13.52 and Sheila Hudson 16.24.
Sunderland Harriers took eighth with Colleen Compson 13.20, Vikki Cotton 13.18 and Nicola Woodward 12.45.