Sunderland Harriers’ hopes of team medals in the senior events of 113th North Eastern Counties Cross Country Championships were dashed at Wrekenton on Saturday.
The senior men were outside the medals in fifth place while the women, last year’s bronze medallists, found themselves shunted back into sixth place this time.
The senior men found their medal chances slip away after the first of four tough 3km laps when expected team counters Ian Dixon and Andy Powell dropped out
Dixon, one of the North East’s top Over-40 veterans was quite capable of a top 15 finish, but suffered after dashing into the lead after the start.
He said: “That was my intention to go hard from the start, but I realised after the opening lap I had made a mistake.”
Powell, who was competing after illness, clearly was not himself and also slipped by the wayside on the same lap.
That left Kevin Jeffress, out on his own, as the only Sunderland Harrier up among the front runners and he ran well to finish 14th (45.10) after losing a few seconds entering the home straight through a wrong turning.
The rest of Sunderland counters were Robert Walker 52nd (48.15), Nathan Reed 59th (48.44), Craig Gunn 63rd (49.27), Steve Rankin 67th (49.57) and Michael Thompson 73rd (49.52).
Sunderland Strollers finished ninth team, with Mark Anderson 34th (46.57), John Cook 58th (48.33) and Callum Thom 72nd (49.50), making the first 100.
Houghton Harriers took 19th with Lee Dover 33rd (46.53) and Rory Graham 89th (51.11) leading the way....