Sunderland Harriers get their main man for Durham relays

First published in Sport by

ERITREAN Olympic Games steeplechaser Weyney Ghebresilasie, who has settled on Wearside while his application for asylum is considered, will make his second appearance for Sunderland Harriers in tomorrow's Durham City Cathedral Cross Country Relays.

The 18-year-old former soldier made a winning debut for his adopted club in last month's Start Fitness North-East Harrier League at Jarrow, clocking the fastest time in the handicap event, and he will be eyeing the course record of 8 mins 17 secs - set by New Marske's Great Britain international Ricky Stcvenson in 2008 - in the two-lap 3K test on the Racecourse in Green Lane.

Ghebresilasie, who is preparing for the North of England Cross Country Championships at Knowsley, Merseyside, next Saturday, will be joined in the three-man team by two of three candidates - Craig Isherwood, Nathan Reed and Oliver James, who have all shown good form recently.

Sunderland have won the coveted relay trophy three times since 2004, but have struggled in the last two meetings after losing leading athletes who have moved away or have been injured, including three-times still-out-of-action North-East cross country champion Mark Hood. They will have it all to do tomorrow in the relays, which are always keenly contested by the region's leading clubs, including defending champions Morpeth, New Marske, Gateshead and host club Durham City, whose lead runner, Dan Garbutt, ran the fastest leg last year (8 mins 46 secs).

Rosie Smith, who helped Great Britain take the team silver medals when she finished a highly-creditable 14th in last weekend's big Edinburgh Cross Country international, is down to represent Durham City in the women's relay, won last year by Morpeth..

The three-race meeting, which also hosts the North-East Veterans' Championships, starts at 10.15am, with the senior men's relay off at 11.35.

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