Heaton Harriers, North-East Harrier League women's champions for four years in succession before losing their title last season to Tynedale, jumped to the top of Division One after a surprise result in the fourth fixture at Wrekenton.
Previous leaders, Tynebridge, and second-placed Tynedale, who were battling it out at the top of the table, both came a cropper, slipping to ninth and eighth respectively on the gruelling former North-East Cross Country Championships course.
Consistent Heaton finished third behind Sunderland Strollers and Gateshead, but it was enough to leapfrog the leaders and open up a two-point lead at the top of the table.
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The women's race was won by Newcastle University student and parkrun enthusiast Rebecca Rigby, receiving a four-minute start with the slow pack, beating medium-packer Emma Pearson, of Morpeth, who received two minutes, by 59 seconds. Jarrow and Hebburn's Alex Snook ran the fastest time from the fast pack.
Morpeth also took advantage of a slip by Division One leaders Gateshead to jump into top spot after finishing top team in the men's race, with their rivals coming home a disappointing fifth.
The handicap race was won by Gateshead Harrier Phil Edge, who took full advantage of a five minutes start to beat fellow slow-packer Jack Reed (Gosforth) by 35 seconds. Durham City Harrier Dan Jenkin finished fourth overall, clocking the fastest time running from scratch from the fast pack.
Senior Men: 1 P Edge (Gateshead, Slow Pack +5 mins) 34mins 13 secs; 2 J Reed (Gosforth, SP) 34.48; 3 M Fenwick (Tyne Bridge, Medium Pack +2 mins 30 secs) 35.52; D Jenkin (Durham City, Fast Pack scr) 35.05; 5 P Helmsley (Alnwick, SP) 36.25. Fastest tiumes: 1 D Jenkin 31.05; 2 R Morrell (Morpeth) 31.58; 3 M Hood (Sunderland) 32.24.
Teams: Div 1: 1 Morpeth 145; 2 Sunderland 156; 3 Durham City 178; 4 South Shields 309; 5 Gateshead 407. Placings after four fixtures: 1 Morpeth 12; 2 Gateshead 14; 3 = Sunderland, Durham City and South Shields 16.
Senior women: 1 R Rigby (Newcastle University, Slow Pack + 4 mins) 26.43; 2 E Pearson (Morpeth, Medium Pack +2 mins) 27.42; 3 T Millmore (Birtley, MP) 27.51; 4 P Baxter (Blyth, SP) 28.02; 5 J Gascoigne-Owens (Alnwick, MP vet) 28.15. Fastest times: A Snook (Jarrow & Hebburn) 24.47; 2 E Pearson 25.42; 3 T Millmore (Birtley, MP) 25.51.
Teams: Div 1: 1 Sunderland Strollers 31 pts; 2 Gateshead 33; 3 Heaton 35. Div 2: 1 Birtley 42; 2 South Shields 66; 3 Alnwick 70.