Sunderland Harriers have jumped to the top of the North Eastern Harrier League First Division with a superb performance at a cold and windswept Alnwick Pastures on Saturday.
The Wearsiders moved from fourth to the top of the division by packing their six counters inside the first 37 finishers in the demanding cross country 10k race.
They overtook Blaydon, Gateshead, Elvet Striders and Tyne Bridge Harriers, to signal their intent in the chase for the Harrier League title, with only two fixtures remaining at Lambton Park and Druridge Bay.
Leading the Wearsiders home in the handicap race with three packs of slow, medium and fast, was science school teacher Nathan Reed.
The club captain was having his first Harrier League outing since 2016 and through that had been relegated to the slow pack. He finished a pleasing third in 43.05 to mark his return to the sport after a long absence through injury.
Michael Edwards just missed out on a medal in fourth position (43.42) after having his best run for some time. He was followed by Chris Jackson from the medium pack in 12th (43.52).
Then came fast man Steve Rankin who powered through to 13th with the days third best time (41.26) behind the winner, Wallsend’s junior Sam Charlton (38.28), who won all the major Under-20 cross country titles in England last year.
Newcastle’s Universities Chris Larkin, who finished fifth, was the second fastest (39.44).
Closing the scoring for Sunderland was Craig Gunn from the fast pack in 29th (42.32) and Michael Laws from the mediums with 37th position (45.28).
Houghton won the division three contest through Lee Dover 32nd, Adam Middleton 35th, Stephen Johnson 47th, Johnny Evans 82nd, Rory Graham 86th, David Gribben 104th. They are now fifth in the league.
Sunderland’s promotion hopes in the Second Division of the women’s league look to have vanished after finishing in ninth of ten competing clubs. They have dropped to fourth with 15 points, behind Jesmond Joggers on five points, Wallsend with six and Durham on 14.
Houghton Harriers Under-17 Men’s team have a one point lead over Morpeth and Durham at the top of the division. They finished second to Morpeth through Samuel Gibson in second, Chris Coulson sixth and Luke Pye 22nd.
Sunderland finished third team with Alexander Seed fourth, Rhys Clark eighth and Cameron Lawton 24th.
Houghton also had Thomas Pigford runner-up in the Under-13 race, while Sunderland’s Isabel Maher was sixth in the Under-11s event, Jacob Waterson was 9th Under-13 and Jak Jarvis 11th Under-15.