For 36 years the Farringdon cross country has heralded the start of the cross country and although the mercury is still rising it will soon be that time of year again. The only difference this year is that ever-present club middle distance coach Ken Jefferson will be missing after sadly passing away this summer; the event has been renamed in his honour. Ken was an ardent supporter of the event and always encouraged his young athletes to participate and get their first taste of cross country. Many of who went on to achieve success regionally & nationally on the country, road and track. The event caters for all ages from U11 upwards and it would be great to see the club well represented in every age group as Ken Jefferson would have wanted it.
This year sees the second running of the women’s relay which gives female athletes parity alongside their male counterparts (in getting to compete in a relay rather than an open race). Despite the enthusiasm for the event last year’s race was poorly attended with only 15 senior women’s teams finishing and 10 veteran women’s teams finishing this included only one Sunderland Harriers team of Alice Smith (10.48), Colleen Compson (12.43), Vikki Cotton (12.10) who finished a battling fourth. The Sunderland Harriers club committee were still determined to make this event a success and voted to give the relay a second chance but if no improvement in turnout is seen the event may have to return to an open race. Women’s team manager Eddie Maddison is hoping for an improved turnout for the club despite the congested fixture list. Following their recent Northern 5km team success the Northern champs certainly have nothing to fear and could be real contenders if they field a strong squad.
Sunderland Harriers senior men will be hoping to get back to winning ways over the same undulating course as the women, last year the only Sunderland Senior Men’s team finished in sixth place, they were: Michael Laws (10.04), Sean Mackie (9.30), Paul Merrison (10.30) & Kris Cantle (10.34). This contrasts with 2016 when both the Senior and Veteran men prevailed in their respective events and in 2015 when the club fielded 5 complete senior men’s teams, including three in the top ten!! The event will be the last chance for athletes to prove their form ahead of the highly anticipated Northern Six stage relays on Sunday 23rd September at Manchester’s Etihad Stadium.
This is one of three annual events promoted by Sunderland Harriers and all members are encouraged to get involved whether in competing or volunteering at the event. With free entry to club members it is hoped all members will prioritise this event over other fixtures.