Former Wallsend Harrier middle distance runner Andy Graham has transferred to Sunderland Harriers following his move to Seaham.
The 37-year-old was encouraged to join the club through the Wearsiders having a strong endurance veterans’ section.
It is particularly strong in the Over-35 age group where they could turn out a team that could bid for national honours on the road and cross country.
“I’ve been a journeyman around the North East and I have always wanted the ease of access to a training group and a track and Sunderland Harriers provided that when I moved to the area.
“I was also aware of the strong veterans' team and hope to be involved in the regional and national masters relay events.
“I think we have a great chance of going for gold given the quality of masters athletes at the club. I also want to be competitive as I move up the masters' categories,’’ he said
As a youngster Graham was aware that his father (Dave) and Godfather (Nick Jobson) were decent runners for Blaydon Harriers and this encouraged him to take up the sport.
The Newcastle born athlete said: “Firstly I ran for North Shields Poly and in school competitions as a youngster but preferred football, so it wasn’t until 2011 that I re-joined Wallsend Harriers.’’
He has also been a member of Durham City Harriers when he lived in the Cathedral City in 2015-17.
“I was fortunate enough to have Steve O’Gara and Lee Morgan as coaches when I joined Wallsend as my first club as a senior. It took me a few months to get in with the fast group but when I did the progression of the sessions really brought me on.’’
Graham is a low mileage athlete running around 35 to 40 miles a week which he realises is relatively low but he finds he can race well off this and can get a balance between training and rest. He has struggled with plantar fasciitis over the past few years and so his mileage hasn’t been consistent.
He had his best year when he turned 30. Recording personal bests for 800m (1:57), 1500m (4:06) and clocked 75:10 half marathon in the Great North Run.
His other PBs are: One mile 4:25 mile, 3k 9:05, 5k 15:54, 10k 33:22 and 55:56 for 10 mile. His favourite event is the 1500m.
He added: “It’s been great to see track meetings getting off the ground with Covid restrictions in place. I had put in a good block of training with Richie Tough’s training group at the Silksworth track and it has served me well.
“I was able to race in the North Eastern Counties AA Stan Long Mile at Morpeth on 18th October. I was really pleased to run 4:42 and take first place in the C race.
“I then backed this up with a first place in the Run Nation 3k series at Hexham on 25th October with 9:25.
If it wasn't for lockdown and the cancellation of the NECAA event at Morpeth on 15th November, I believe I would have gone close to my 3000m PB of 9:05. The Covid safe events were well organised and officiated and I just hope England Athletics can give them the go ahead again after the lockdown.’’
Graham works as an occupational therapist at Teesside University specialising in amputee rehabilitation and is currently carrying out PhD research at Teesside University into a therapeutic treatment for phantom limb pain.