Sunderland Echo - - Sport - By Kevin Carr Ath­let­ics cor­re­spon­dent [email protected]­me­

Harriers dom­i­nated the North East Masters’ Cross Coun­try Re­lay Cham­pi­onships at Birt­ley yes­ter­day.

The hur­ried ar­ranged fix­ture fol­low­ing the can­cel­la­tion of the Durham City Harriers event at the Race Course was a huge suc­cess for Birt­ley Harriers with 171 teams en­tered.

And Sun­der­land Harriers made the most of the oc­ca­sion by scoop­ing the Over-35 and Over-45 men’s re­lay gold, plus bronze medals in the Over-65 com­pe­ti­tion.

They also pro­vided three run­ners that ran the fastest lap times in their cat­e­gory and placed three teams in the first eight in an en­try of 74.

Team Cap­tain Dean Phillips said: “It was one of our great­est per­for­mances by the lads.

“The Over-35s won by a street as did the Over-45s. Ev­ery ath­lete in the race ran above them­selves on the day. They de­serve our con­grat­u­la­tions.”

It was Michael Barker who got the show off to a per­fect start by lead­ing on the first leg with his time of 10.24 which gave him the sec­ond fastest time over­all be­hind Gateshead’s Con­rad Franks, who was the quick­est over­all with his 10.05 post­ing.

Next off for Sun­der­ers’ land was Kevin Jef­fress, who recorded 10.32 be­fore Steve McMa­hon an­chored with the fastest time for an Over-40 (10.29) to give Sun­der­land a 47 sec­onds vic­tory over Gateshead.

In third place was Sun­der­land Over-45s, with Rob Walker, who fin­ished fourth on the open­ing leg (10.44), be­fore hand­ing over to Over-50 Tim Field, who claimed the quick­est time for his ex­cel­lent ef­fort of 11.01.

Paul Blakey closed in for the Wear­siders with the best time for an Over-45 with 10.35.

The Sun­der­land C team also ran up to form with their eighth place through Aidan Crowe (11.44), Graeme Pul­lan (11.21) and Paul Red­man (12.00) and the D team claimed 18th through Alan McManus (12.42), Dar­ren Stoker (11.57) and Peter Shaw (12.52).

Not to be out done, the Over-65s of David White (15.28), Steve Win­ter (17.38) and Len Christo­pher (18.38) grabbed bronze medals.

Sun­der­land Strollers also clinched bronze medals in the Over-55 age group through Richard Barker (12.43) Bill Kirk (14.24) and Ken May­nard (11.56).

The im­prov­ing Washington club had their best per­for­mance in fin­ish­ing 10th, with Ja­son Oshin (11.41) John Kelly (11.57) and Carl Smith (12.00).

The Sun­der­land Har­riSun­der­land women were also in the medals in fin­ish­ing sec­ond to Mor­peth in their Over-35 com­pe­ti­tion, with Alice Smith the fastest of the trio (11.48), then came Jac­qui Ether­ing­ton with a speedy 12.01 for the fastest Over-40 and Gemma Frost closed in with her run of 12.18.

The Sun­der­land B team fin­ished 10th with Vicky Haswell (12.03), Nikki Wood­ward 12.26 and Vicki Cot­ton (14.00).

Mor­peth won the men’s re­lay with Carl Avery the quick­est of the field (9.01) ahead of Jar­row’s Chris Parr’s (9.14).

Houghton Harriers fin­ished in 11th with Lee Dover (10.09), Tom Whe­lan (11.25) and Rory Gra­ham (12.09).

Sun­der­land Harriers’ Michael Barker and Steve McMa­hon.

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