The North Eastern Harrier League marked the halfway stage of the season at Lambton Park.
And there is evidence that participation in the league is gradually getting back to normal despite on-going concerns over the Covid Pandemic. The biggest fields of the season were seen at Lambton where 535 men finished their 10k race and 438 women competed in their event. While they still have a way to go to achieve numbers reached previously of well over 600 for men and 500 for women, the league is certainly back on the right track.
And there to greet competitors was the strength sapping Lambton course the toughest on the circuit, with mountainous hills and extremely difficult underfoot conditions to contend with.
With three men in the first 10, Sunderland Harriers looked to be on their way to victory. But with one of their top runners dropping out through illness and the next counters finishing down the field, hopes were rapidly dashed
Sunderland Harrier Michael Wilson competing in his first senior men’s Harrier League race, made his debut a winning one and immediately said after the race: “That was brutal!"
Enjoying a five minutes start from the fast pack, the middle-distance athlete found himself having a lonely race. He finished the challenging event in 37:47 to win by two minutes and 14 seconds.
Wilson was the joint third fastest runner on the course behind Birtley’s fast pack man Adrian Bailes who got through to fourth with his time of 36:55. Then came David Green of North Shields who finished second behind Wilson, running from the medium pack, recording an actual time of 37:24. While Gateshead Harrier fast pack runner Conrad Franks equalled Wilson’s time in seventh place.
Sunderland club captain and medium pack runner Nathan Reed finished in fifth place in 39:45 and fast man Liam Taylor (38:19) took 10th. But there was a long wait for the next counter, Michael Edwards, who ran from the mediums to finish 43rd (43:01). Over-40 Mark Anderson was the next to close in for Sunderland in 64th (40:47) and he was followed by Over-55 Paul Redman in 94th (46:36).
Birtley won the team race with 74pts, from Tyne Bridge112pts, and Sunderland were third on 130pts.
First Division League Table: 1 Tyne Bridge Harriers six points, 2 Morpeth Harriers 7pts, 3 Sunderland Harriers 8pts,
4 Birtley AC 15pts, 5 Wallsend Harriers 15pts, 6 Gateshead Harriers 19pts, 7 Heaton Harriers 19pts, 8 Elvet Striders 19pts, 9 Gosforth Harriers 28pts, 10 Blaydon Harriers 29pts.
Houghton Harrier Chris Coulson finished 13th from the fast pack in 38:35 and Sunderland Stroller M40 Andrew Forbes was 30th from the slow pack (44:58). While Washington Running Club had Jordan Robson in 50th (45:45) and Peter Roddam 51st (45:45).
Houghton Harrier Eleanor Daglish took third place in the women’s race (31:15) and ahead of her was Tynedale’s Annette Quaid (29:46) and fast pack runner Wallsend’s Danielle Hodgkinson (27:39).
Sunderland Harriers finished in third place in the four to count team race and were led home by slow pack runner Michelle Avery in eighth place (33:01). Linda Mudford finished 38th (32:54) from the medium pack, then came Hayley Dobinson 55th (35:44) and Alyson West 152nd (38:15).
Sunderland maintained their second place in the Second Division with nine points, Tynedale are on seven points and Jarrow and Hebburn are third with 10 points