Sunderland Harrier Stephen Jackson, at the age of 36, makes his debut in the Inter Counties Cross Country Championships at Loughborough on Saturday. He has been elevated to a team place as the squad has been hit by some late withdrawals
He said: “I was delighted to be called up as the team and the reserve list has some fantastic runners. I'm in a big block of training for the Boston Marathon so I'll now have an easier week to freshen up and give it my best to have a strong run at the weekend".
"Realistically, it will take a fantastic performance to score for the team, but if I perform as well as possible it hopefully means I'll be in the conversation again this time next year. I had a difficult start to the cross country season after falling ill with Covid in October but started to have some better performances towards the latter part of the year at the North East Masters Championships and the Sherman Cup.’’
The team is headed by former National Cross Country champion Calum Johnson (Gateshead). The rest of the team is Finn Brodie (Morpeth), Kieran Walker (NE Project), Carl Avery (Morpeth), Stephen Jackson (Sunderland),
Phil Wyllie (Western Tempo), Jarlath McKenna (Bristol), Conrad Franks (Gateshead), Sam Hancox (Morpeth) or Greg Jayasuria (Middlesbrough).
Women’s team: Catriona MacDonald (Morpeth), Emma Bramley (Durham), Amy Fuller (Elswick), Kate Avery (Shildon), Alex Sneddon (Jarrow), Helen Warburton (Gosforth), Eleanor Bradbury (Blaydon), Molly Pace (North Shields) Katarina Bonner (Elswick).
Houghton Harriers have two athletes in the Under-20 Women's team with Anna Pigford and Amy Leonard, Chris Coulson and Will Bellamy go in Under-20 Men’s race plus Brandon Pye is selected for the Under-15 Boys. Sunderland Harrier Adam Hughes runs in the Under-17 Men’s race and Alexander Seed goes in the Under-20 Men's event.
Sunderland Harriers senior men’s team finished third in the North Eastern Harrier League First Division following the conclusion of the season’s fixtures at Alnwick. Morpeth, won the title with 11 points and Tyne Bridge beat Sunderland on countback with 18 points. A long way behind in fourth were Birtley with 32 points.
Sunderland was led home in the handicap race by fast pack man Nathan Reed in 36th, then came Alexander Seed with 45th, next was Liam Taylor in 49th, having his first race for three months following a foot injury, Over-60 Paul Merrison finished 65th, Cameron Lawton took 69th and the final counter was Dave Lash with 79th.
Houghton Harriers finished second in Division three to gain promotion to the second Division along with Blackhill Bounders. Sunderland Strollers missed out in finishing third.
Sunderland Harriers women’s team just missed out on promotion to the First Division after winning the final fixture by one point from Washington. The team was Hayley Dobinson in 22nd, fast pack runner Jessica Fox in 41st, medium packs Jennifer Tomlin 93rd and Maria Davis 109th.
Sunderland Strollers new member Kirsty Lowery was a runaway winner of the race. The Over-40 clocked 32:19 running from the slow pack in the handicap race. Morpeth’s Catriona MacDonald was the fastest runner on the course in finishing third (28:10), running from the fast pack.
Sunderland Harrier Amy Callaghan (39.18) and Jimmy Johnson (40.50) competed in the Trafford 10k on Sunday.