Sunderland Harriers senior men’s and women’s team go into the first Start Fitness Harrier League of the season with ambitious intent at Wrekenton on Saturday.
The Wearside club, who finished senior men’s runners-up last season and won the First Division title in 2016, are the only North East club to have maintained their First Division status since the leagues inception.
Team manager Albert James said: “We are looking to have a strong start to this year’s Harrier League and we should have a decent team turning out at Wrekenton.
“It is important we get off to a good start as the six fixtures leave no room for a poor result as the league is so competitive between the 10 clubs.”
The league race is split into three packs, fast, medium and slow, with significant starts for the slow and medium pack from the fast pack.
Clubs can have a head start if they have a number of slow pack runners in their ranks as they receive a five minute start on the fast pack and half that time from the medium pack.
James has been out and about knocking on doors and the following have answered his call for the six-to-count team race: Simon O’Donnell (slow), Chris Bell (slow), Robert Walker (medium), Ian Ritchie (fast), Jack Tallantire (fast), Kris Cantle (slow), Michael Laws (slow) and Paul Blakey (medium).
The Harriers’ women’s team have ambitious plans for the season following a meeting at the club that saw a big turnout of members.
Last season they missed out on promotion by just one point, finishing in third place in the Second Division.
Club captain Colleen Compson said: “My ambitions for the season are to strive for promotion to Division One. We came so close last season and were let down by injuries and other targeted race priorities.
“We have rallied the troops and we are hoping for a better turnout this season, giving us a better chance of success.”
For Saturday, she will be relying on Nikki Woodward, Alice Smith, Amy Callaghan, and Vicki Cotton for the four to count team race....