Sunderland Harriers made good use of the latest Harrier League fixture at a sunny and mild Aykley Heads. No fewer than 42 Royal Blue athletes tackled the uncompromising course, the condition of the course was very kind with little patches of mud here and there.
No doubt the performance of the day came from William Young in the under 15 boys race, the Southmoor scholar led the race from gun to tape as he stormed to his first win of his fledgling athletics career. He won by 14 seconds from Alfie Cook (Gateshead), who despite a 1m 40s handicap, had a brilliant run from the fast pack to post the fastest time (11.51) of the day. Jake Parker (Tyne Bridge Harriers) completed the podium places.
William's victory led his team to 6th position in the race, backed up by his fellow teammates Josh Ebblewhite-Wood (29th), Ben Anderson (30th) and Lucas Barker (40th).
Despite a ten minute delay, the senior women's team had their best turnout of the season with 8 athletes on the start line, and they in turn produced their best performance of the season to finish 2nd in the fixture, this getting the promotion wheels back on track. Leading the way was recent university graduate Hayley Dobinson, who despite being 6th after the first lap, paid for a fast start as she came home in 21st. The next 3 counters only had 6 place between them, Claire Cook buoyed on by her medal exploits last week finished in 28th. Next to come through were medium pack runners Linda Mudford (32nd) and Jen Tomlin (34th) - both of whom produced great runs despite a 2m 25s handicap.
All four counters are now promoted.
The rest of the Harriette's to complete the 4 mile race were Jess Fox (64th), Lauren Flaxen (146th), Doreen Dickinson (279th) and Vikki Cotton (288th).
Elvet Striders won the fixture, this leaves Sunderland Strollers leading the division with 8 points. Washington sit in 2nd on 10 points with Sunderland Harriers on 11 points.
Louise Mitchell (Durham City), Alison Thompson (Durham City) and Carrie Collins (Tyne Bridge Harriers) were the first three runners respectively.
Even after a delayed start of ten minutes, 60 women still missed the start of the race.
The senior men, not to be outdone produced their best performance of a stuttering season as they finished 2nd in their fixture behind arch rivals Morpeth Harriers. The result will surely put to bed any fears of relegation.
A club record of 20 athletes turned out in force in what proved to be the perfect warm up for the North East XC championships in two weeks time.
All 6 counters came from both the medium and fast packs, ruthlessly cutting their way through the field like a hot knife in butter.
Leading the way was Steve Rankin (12th), who only decided to race at the last minute and ran most of the race with both laces undone on his spikes. Next to follow him home was Jake Ridding (22nd), Stephen Jackson produced the sixth fastest time of the day as he flew round from the fast pack to finish 26th.
Liam Walshaw, a newcomer to the sport, continued his impressive development as he finished 30th, Liam Taylor scampered his way to 37th from the fast pack and team captain Nathan Reed completed the scoring, racing home in 42nd.
The four counters from the medium pack, Steve, Nathan, Jake and Liam are all now promoted to the fast pack.
The rest of the men's team all produced great runs, all of whom are improving as the season goes on.
The race was won by Jack Casalino (Durham Uni), Peter Smallcombe (Morpeth) claimed second just ahead of Tom Henson (Durham City).
The under 13 boys finished 8th in their fixture, Ed Moon (23rd), Kieran Archer (31st), Oliver Anderson (42nd) and Seth Hughes (53rd).
Ewan Line (Morpeth) produced a brilliant performance to win the race from the fast pack.
In the under 13 girls race, Lexie Brown finished 12th, and the ever reliable Joe Willis continued his solo efforts finishing 16th in the Under 17 boys race.
Elizabeth Hughes finished 25th in the under 15 girls race.
Hannah Hughes (47th) and Niamh Campbell (49th) competed in the under 17s girl's race.
Club Team Manager, Jimmy Johnson was pleased with how the days racing went.
"It was another good day for the club, a great win for William Young which inspired everyone else to get stuck into the task at hand. The team atmosphere was superb and you could see and feel it rubbing off on everyone
The women's result is very pleasing indeed, a good turnout was needed, and they duly obliged. Its a numbers game, we won"t get anywhere near promotion with just 4 runners turning out. Hopefully this is the turning point of their season.
As for the men, again they showed fantastic commitment. I'm very pleased with the result and the counters packed very well. This bodes well for the North Eastern championships in two weeks time, especially now that they have this race under their belts.
The club is in a very good place at the moment, hopefully a few new signings may be on the horizon, watch this space."
Meanwhile, on the roads, Mike Cherrington (40.18) finished 303rd in the Doncaster 10k. The race was won by Christos Tzelis (Ilkley Harriers) in 30.59.