Double silver is a Berry good effort.
SILVER AWARDS: Paul Merrison on his way to bringing Sunderland home in second place SILVER AWARDS: Paul Merrison on his way to bringing Sunderland home in second place BRONZE BOY: Alan Shepherd approaches the finish line to bring Morpeth into third place BRONZE BOY: Alan Shepherd approaches the finish line to bring Morpeth into third place SILVER service was the order of the day for Sunderland Harriers and Chester-le-Street AC at the British Masters Cross-Country Relay Championships in Berry Hill Park, Mansfield.
On a course akin to running on the roads rather than over the country due to the brick-hard conditions, the Wearsiders, second last year at the same venue, finished runners-up behind Leicester Coritanian AC in the 6x4k men's event, while the Cestrians, competing in the championships for the first time, followed Midlands outfit Redhill RC home in the three-stage contest over the same distance.
Sunderland, with five of last year's team in the line-up, were hoping to go one better than 12 months ago in the 40-50 age group when they finished second behind Herne Hill, who were absentees this time round.
Tim Field led off for Sunderland and handed over in 10th place, which was misleading as the 35-40 four-stage competition started at the same time, though the eventual winners were already in pole position due to Gordon Lee, whose 13min 15sec was to prove to be the fastest time of the day.
Local rivals Morpeth (Paul Waterson) were in 11th place on the opening stage but they were to move up significantly on stage two to third thanks to Phil Walker, with Sunderland now one place behind due to George Harden's effort.
Neil Wilkinson consolidated Morpeth's third place on leg three with the day's third fastest time with Sunderland (Michael Thompson) continuing one place behind as Leicester held a commanding advantage over second placed Halesowen.
Ian Abiss took a lead of one minute 10 seconds for Morpeth over Sunderland's Brain Rushworth on stage four, but the Wearsider turned the deficit into a 25-second advantage before handing over to Brian Bewick for the penultimate stage.
Last year Rushworth was just fourth fastest on the day, but his time of 13:32 was second best this time round and only 14 seconds slower than 12 months ago.
Bewick and Gavin Bayne, a late replacement for Morpeth, both got the better of the Halesowen athlete on leg five and though the gold medals were destined for the Leicester squad, it looked a similar scenario for the minor awards with Sunderland over a minute to the good over the Northumbrians.
Leicester Coritanians came home in 1hr 24min 38sec with Paul Merrison, the oldest member of Sunderland's sextet at 51, following them across the line in 1:25:58.
Rushworth, who was a member of the Sunderland team, together with Bewick, Field and Merrison, which won the title when it was held at Farringdon in 2006, said it was always going to be a race for second place after the way the Leicester athlete ran on the first leg.
"They were good throughout the team and we never got near them to give them a fight," said 46-year-old Rushworth.
"Their first lad was really good and it showed by being the fastest of the day but we have to be happy with second place. I think all of the team ran as well as they could so we are not disappointed in finishing second once again."
Meanwhile, Chester-le-Street were amongst the medals for the second weekend running, with Sarah Wilkinson adding a silver medal to the gold she won seven days earlier in the Northern Athletics Road Relay Championships in Leeds.
Wilkinson led off for the Cestrians and she stormed home to the changeover point over a minute ahead of her nearest rivals and in doing so was easily the fastest of the day.
Wilkinson handed over to Chester debutant Alison Moore for her first taste of competition, having previously only ran in the Edinburgh Marathon and though she slipped back to third behind eventual champions Redhill and Notts AC, she had done enough to give Kathryn Foley the chance to chase down the leaders.
Foley, having her first outing since finishing 45th in the National XC Championships at Parliament Hill in February, comfortably overtook the Notts athlete and cut back 20 seconds on Redhill but in the end second place was still a wonderful achievement.
Wilkinson, who later on cheered husband Neil every step of the way to a bronze medal in the men's contest, said: "We all enjoyed ourselves today and I'm delighted for Alison who was really nervous with it being her first competitive race.
"Kathryn also did extremely well and to record the second fastest time of the day after being out of action for over six months will give her a huge confidence boost."
RESULTS - Men (6x4k relay): 1 Leicester Coritanian AC 1:24:38; 2 Sunderland 1:25:58 (T Field 14:13, G Harden 14:46, M Thompson 14:32, B Rushworth 13:32, B Bewick 14:23, P Merrison 14:32); 3 Morpeth 1:27:34 (P Waterson 14:28, P Walker 14:14, N Wilkinson 13:38, I Abiss 15:09, G Bayne 15:34, A Shepherd 14:31); 4 Redhill 1:29:26; 5 Tipton 1:29:31; 6 Bingley 1:29:38; 7 Bedford and County 1:31:22; 8 Wolds Vets 1:36:59; 9 Morpeth B 1:37:08 (A MacDonald 15:48, D Steel 15:09, M Winter 16:16; G Dixon 16:16, J Alder 16:48, S Beattie 16:51); 10 Derby 1:38:17. Fastest legs: 1 G Lee (LeicsCor) 13:15; 2 B Rushworth 13:32; 3 N Wilkinson 13:38.
Women (3x4k relay): 1 Redhill 49:46; 2 Chester-le-Street 51:02 (S Wilkinson 15:30, A Moore 19:29, K Foley 16:03); 3 Notts AC 52:49; 4 Mansfield 55:54; 5 Holme Pierrepont 57:24; 6 Notts AC B 1:00:10.
BRONZE BOY: Alan Shepherd approaches the finish line to bring Morpeth into third place BRONZE BOY: Alan Shepherd approaches the finish line to bring Morpeth into third place SILVER AWARDS: Paul Merrison on his way to bringing Sunderland home in second place SILVER AWARDS: Paul Merrison on his way to bringing Sunderland home in second place
BRONZE BOY: Alan Shepherd approaches the finish line to bring Morpeth into third place SILVER AWARDS: Paul Merrison on his way to bringing Sunderland home in second place
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|Publication:||Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)|
|Date:||Oct 5, 2009|
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