New boy boosts Morpeth.
The Wearsiders were missing most of their young brigade due to Sunderland's home fixture and they paid the penalty as they just squeezed into the prizes on the final stage.
Durham City's Shaun Moralee led the field home on the first of the 1.8-mile circuits ahead of Stewy Bell (Chester-le-Street) and Sunderland's Tim Field. Eventual winners Morpeth, with Andy Swinburne running the first leg, handed over in seventh place.
However, new signing Nick McCormick took over for Morpeth and he scorched through to the front on the second lap, and his effort was rewarded with the fastest time of the day.
Gateshead, through Michael Thompson, moved into second place but, unfortunately for the Tynesiders, that was as far as they progressed as they didn't have a third or fourth leg runner.
Gosforth's Drew Graham moved his team up to third as Chester-le-Street slipped to fourth and Sunderland down to fifth.
On stage three, Dan Samuels extended Morpeth's lead, his 9min 35sec clocking being the second fastest of the day behind team-mate McCormick.
Paul Hutton moved Gosforth up another place to second with Morpeth B now in third place.
However, just like Gateshead, that was the end of the road for the Morpeth second string as they also were without a runner for the final leg.
Ben Harrison, who arrived just prior to his last leg stint for Morpeth after being stuck on the motorway for over an hour, had the simple task of guiding Morpeth home to a comprehensive victory, over three minutes ahead of second-place Gosforth with Sunderland moving through to take the third place awards.
It was a disappointing day all-round for Sunderland for they also relinquished their vets title.
Victory went to a strong Durham City quartet with the Wearside team taking second place ahead of Wallsend.
However, as a consolation, Sunderland did have the fastest vet of the day when Tom Doughty just edged home, one second ahead of Durham City's Rob Hand.
The women's event was a race over the same circuit and proved to be a second decisive victory for new Chester-le-Street signing Sarah Wilkinson.
The former World half-marathon representative followed up her victory at Hetton Lyons Park by sweeping to a 38-second success over Durham City teenager Rosie Smith with another new Chester-le-Street recruit, Maxine Czarnacka, filling the third position.
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|Publication:||Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)|
|Date:||Sep 15, 2003|
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