Gunn off the mark for Sunderland Harriers
Craig Gunn enjoyed his first win in the sport after leaving the unattached ranks and joining Sunderland Harriers just two years ago.
He was competing at Staveley, in the Lake District, in their festival of trail running where over 1,500 runners have the option of competing in events on the hills over 5km, 10km or 18km.
Athletes enjoy a carnival atmosphere with live music, race commentary and food and drink all available at the start and finish.
The improving Gunn, coached by Ritchie Tough, chose the 10km over the Southern Lakeland fells which climbs above Kentmere Valley and climbs Reston Scar before the descent back to Staveley.
Gunn thrived over the difficult underfoot conditions of short sections of tarmac, grassy footpaths, stony bridleways with some stiles to climb over near the end.
He clocked 47.54 to score an emphatic win, beating runner-up Ciaron Roddy (Red Rose Runners) by nearly four minutes. There were 450 finishers.
Also in the Lake District over the weekend was club-mate Darren Stoker an Over-45, who competed in the big Keswick Half Marathon with 811 runners. He finished 46th in 1.30.18.
And over in the States, Michael Wilson was competing indoors for New Mexico State University where he finished second over 800m in the Payton Jordan invitational in Palo Alto, California, in a time just outside his best (1.48.77).
Local athletes need not travel far for their endurance events over the next three weeks.
First up is the Events of the North programme with the 5km on Saturday and the 10km and Half Marathon on Sunday.
The following Sunday is the Sunderland Strollers Pier-to-Pier race from South Shields to Roker.
Then on the following Thursday is the Ability 5km at Silksworth Sports Complex.
The Sunderland City 5km, with the start and finish on the Northern Spire Bridge, follows a route on closed roads in the area, with numerous excellent vantage points for spectators. The race starts at 6pm.
The Siglion Sunderland City 10km will start at 10am on Sunday and costs £23 to enter for affiliated runners and £25 for unaffiliated runners.
The Siglion Sunderland City Half Marathon will start at 10:25am on the Sunday and the entry prices are £33 and £35 respectively. Entries close at midnight tonight.
The Active Sunderland BIG 3km Run is also taking place on the Sunday morning. The weekend of runs will see more than 5,000 participants take to the streets of Wearside across all of the events.
Both the 10km and Half Marathon will start and finish in Keel Square. Anyone who enters two of the Siglion Sunderland City Runs will receive a discount of £3 off the second event that they enter.
Finishers in each run will earn a medal, T-shirt and non-plastic reusable goody bag.
In partnership with the Bridges shopping centre, the ‘Bridges Challenge’ involves completing the inaugural Sunderland City 5km and then either the Siglion Sunderland City 10km or Half Marathon the following morning.
The 5km will be the first mass participation event to take place on the Northern Spire Bridge since it opened, while the 10km and Half Marathon both follow routes that take runners over the Wearmouth Bridge.
Everyone who completes the Bridges Challenge will be entered into a draw to win a £100 gift card donated by the Bridges shopping centre.
Ability Events will be hosting their first race in Sunderland. The UK Athletics licenced event will take place at Silksworth Sports Complex beginning at 7:15pm. The race will be chip-timed.
The course is the same one as that used by Sunderland Harriers for their annual 5km, which last year saw over 25 people run sub 16 minutes.
The 5km has attracted some leading athletes from the North East, with Dominic Shaw, Guy Bracken, Michael Joyeux, Craig Gunn and Houghton’s Henry Johnson down to run.
Entries are charged at £15 for unattached and £12 for club runners.
Participants completing the race will also receive a goody bag with a range of running goodies. There is also prizes on offer for 1st, 2nd and 3rd male and female winners.
Event Assistant Rhiannon McAnaney said: “We are delighted to be hosting this super fast, flat course in Sunderland.
“We believe this race will be an excellent addition to the North East race calendar which has already attracted a number of runners from around the UK.”
There may be some limited entries on the day, but runners are encouraged to enter in advance to avoid disappointment as entries are selling fast. You can enter via www.abilityevents.co.uk