Sunderland Harriers’ senior men bid to beat their performance of the last two years in the 113th North Eastern Counties Cross Country Championships at Redcar Race Course on Saturday.
The 14 times team champions were shunted out of the medals in finishing in fourth place for the second year running at Aykley Heads last year.
And this time they face an even bigger task as a number of their leading runners will be missing the championship.
But they will welcome back into the team fold Oliver James, who has been on an athletics scholarship in the United States for the last four years.
He arrives back in Sunderland on Friday after a long journey from McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana.
James appears to be in good form after winning a quality 2,000m in 5.19.50 a couple of weeks ago. This will be his senior championship debut and his first appearance in the North East Championship since finishing fifth as an Under-20 Junior in 2013 at South Shields.
Former Sunderland Harrier Patrick Martin (Stockport), the 2015 champion, has withdrawn from the race due to a hamstring injury. But his brother Jack (also Stockport) will be at Redcar going for his first senior title.
Sunderland’s best chances of medals lie with the Under-20 Junior Men’s team who finished in third place last year. They will call upon Chris Bell, Jack Tallentire, Mark Smith and Sean Mackie for the three to count team race....