Promotion and relegation at stake as Alnwick Harriers host final Start Fitness North Eastern League meeting

Alnwick Harriers stage the sixth and final Start Fitness North Eastern Harrier League meeting tomorrow.
Jarrow's Andy Burn.Jarrow's Andy Burn.
Jarrow's Andy Burn.

Over 1000 runners, from under 11 girls and boys to veteran men and women, contest the 11 races with titles, promotion and relegation at stake over an undulating course under the shadow of Alnwick Castle.

South Shields Harriers, in Division One of the senior womens section, are lying fourth and, while the first two clubs, North Shields and Tyne Bridge, are out of reach, Gateshead, in third, are only two points ahead.

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With four to count in the 6km handicap, with the slow packs off a start of four minutes and the mediums following two minutes behind and the fast athletes conceding four minutes.

Claire O’Callaghan, Suzanne Gutcher, Rachel Breheny, Mairi Standaloft, Angela Charlton, Amy Bound and Frances Dembele lead the challenge, with only Paula Atkinson missing from the fastest runners.

Jarrow and Hebburn AC, in Division Three, are five points behind second-placed Claremont with Jesmond clear at the top.

Alex Sneddon, Georgia Campbell, Elaine Leslie, Gina Rutherford and Stephanie Pattinson, all from the fast pack, provide a formidable squad certain to improve through the field of almost 400 into high counting positions.

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Jarrow are sixth in the senior men’s Division Two, with Wallsend first two points in front of Birtley.

However, Alnwick in third are only three points ahead.

Andy Burn, Brendan McMillan and Jonny Evans, from the fast pack conceding five minutes, try to pull back the pace-makers off first in a field expected to be near 500.

South Shields are eighth but six points clear of second bottom Low Fell.

Mark Hodgson, from the fast pack, heads the charge.

Jarrow are fifth in the Under-17 boys’ section but Gateshead in third are the target only two ahead.

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Jack Brown, James Martin and Conal Tufnell, from the fast pack, attempt to move up to front counting positions.

In the individual Grand Prix, Campbell is leading and Sophie Robson is third in the Under-15 girls’ category.

Robson and Morpeth’s Holly Peck will be going for the fastest time off scratch in the two miles handicap.

The Under-11 girls’ race opens the programme at 12.15pm with the senior men scheduled for 1.10 pm.

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Parking is at Alnwick Gardens on the left side of the road into the town centre.

Three sprinters from the borough travel to Scotland this weekend for the Scottish Masters Indoor Championships in the Emirates Arena, Glasgow.

Lee Henry, from South Shields Harriers, goes for the over 40 men’s 200m and 400m, while Mick Haley, from Jarrow and Hebburn AC, has the over 50 men’s 60m and 200m as his target.

Phil Pitt, who has moved from the Shields club to Morpeth Harriers, races in the over 35 men’s 60m and 200m.

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Park Runs are again available at South Shields, Newcastle, Sunderland, Gateshead, Whitley Bay, Chester le Street and Durham. All races are over 5km at 9am.