Sunderland Harriers have a big entry in the North East Masters Cross Country Championships at Cramlington on Saturday.

The two-race programme sees 15 royal blue vests down to compete in the event in which ages range from 35 to 80-years-old.

Sunderland’s best chance of glory lies in the 35-44 years age group where Andy Powell, and Steve Rankin make their debut as 35-year-olds. And they will be joined by Michael Barker to form a strong team.

Royal Blues Contest Cramlington Masters.

Powell goes into the race after his selection as a reserve for the North East senior team that contests the Inter Counties Cross Country Championships at Loughborough on Saturday 14th March.

Barker is in good form after knocking nearly two minutes off his previous fastest half marathon when clocking 72.47 in the Four Villages Half Marathon in Helsby.

Rankin is enjoying a good winter with some good performances to his name over the country.

Gateshead Harrier and race favourite Conrad Franks defends his title and he will also face Elvet Strider and Sunderland Half marathon champion Stephen Jackson and Sunderland Stroller Mark Anderson.

In the 45 to 54 age group, Sunderland Harriers will be led by Paul Blakey and Tim Field and they will be joined by Alan Hodgson, Darren Stoker, Darren Fletcher, Tony Allinson and Dean Phillips.

At the age of 60, Paul Merrison is Sunderland Harriers oldest competitor and joining him will be Over-55 Paul Redman in the 55-64 age group.

Sunderland’s hopes of medalling in the women’s events rests with Over-45s Judith Thirlwell and Nicola Woodward.

Sunderland Stroller Wendy Chapman defends her Over-50 title and Dawn Elliott goes for the Over-60 gold.

The oldest competitor is Morpeth Harrier Walter Ryder, who is still competing as an Over-80. He travels down from Cromarty in Scotland each year to defend his title.

Race 1: 12.30 – Women 35 and over and Men 65 and over (approx 3.5 miles – 2 laps). Race 2: 1.15 – Men 35-64 (approx 5.25 miles – 3 laps)

NEMAA Championship awards to the first three individuals in each 5 year age group.

Team awards for the first three teams (3 to count) in 10-year age groups.

The Race HQ and parking is at North Moor Farm (Hartley Main Farm), on the A192 north of Seaton Delaval. Post code NE25 0PX. There will be a parking charge of £2.00 per vehicle. Access via the Cramlington A19/A189 Moor Farm roundabout.

North East selectors have picked their teams for the Inter Country Cross Country Championships at Loughborough and included in the senior team is Houghton Harrier Junior Cameron Allan.

The 20-year-old has got the nod after some early winter performances that caught the selectors eye. A total of 94 athletes, including reserves, have been selected.

The senior men’s team is Calum Johnson (Gateshead), Carl Avery (Morpeth), Jack Willis (Midds), Greg Jayasurya (Midds), Carl Smith (Tyne Bridge), Alex Brown (Morpeth), Cameron Allan (Houghton), Keiran Walker (Midds Man), David Green (NSP). Res: Michael Hedley (Morpeth). Andy Powell (Sunderland Harriers), Terry Scott (Tyne Bridge), Adrian Bailes (Birtley), Conrad Franks (Gateshead), Liam Aldridge (Billingham).

Women: Sonia Samuels (Sale), Philippa Stone (Mid Man), Catrona MacDonald (Morpeth), Kate Avery (Shildon), Philippa Williams (Sheffield), Daniele Smythe (Heaton), Georgia Campbell (Jarr & Heb), Amy Fuller (Elswick), Hannah Plaschkes (Darlington). Res: Helen Warburton (Gosforth), Gillian Manford (Gateshead), Elisha Tate (Gateshead), Robyn Bennett (Morpeth), Lucy-Erin Hunter ((Darlington), Jane Hodgson (Morpeth).

Houghton Harriers have a number of youngsters selected for the various teams for Loughborough and included in the six strong Under-17 Men’s team are: Will Bellamy, Henry Johnson, Chris Coulson and Samuel Gibson is named as reserve. Anna Pigford and Amy Leonard are down for the Under-17 Women’s team and Eva Hardie is included in the Junior Under-20 team, while Sunderland Harrier Eve Quinn is a reserve. Houghton’s Brandon Pye is reserve for the Under-15 Boys.

The Gateshead Half Marathon, with an expected field of 1500-2000 runners, has been given the go-ahead by Gateshead Council. Full road closures will be in place in taking in Gateshead’s famous landmarks, the Gateshead Millennium Bridge, Baltic, Sage Gateshead, Tyne Bridge, Swing Bridge and finishing in the Gateshead International Stadium.

The half marathon takes place on Easter Sunday, 12th April, the same day as the popular North Tyneside 10K.