DEFENDING senior men’s team champions Durham City shot to the top of the Division One of the Start Fitness North-East Harrier League with a commanding victory on home ground in the second fixture of the season at Aykley Heads.

City, one of the three host clubs, went into a clear three point lead over Tyne Bridge, winners of the opening meeting at Cramlington, packing their six counters in the first 15 in the handicap race as the Tyneside club, hit by automatic promotions to the faster packs, slipped to fifth.

Durham were led home by Peter Bray and Oliver Watson in second and third places overall behind the winner, Birtley’s Tom Goulding, who also received five minutes’ start with the slow pack. Five of the Durham counters ran from the slow pack and will automatically move up into the medium pack – their start cut to 2 ½ minutes – in the next fixture at Wallington, Northumberland, on Saturday.

Durham’s Dan Jenkin had the distinction of recording the fastest time from the fast pack – off scratch – finishing tenth overall and eighth Division One runner, while Sunderland Harriers’ three times North-East cross country champion, Mark Hood, finished fifth overall on his return from injury, running from the medium pack with 2 ½ mins start, and recording the third fastest time.

Tyne Bridge notched up their second success in the women’s Division One race and now head the table by three points from North Shields Polytechnic.

Results – Senior Men: 1 T Goulding (Birtley, Slow Pack +5 mins) 37.04; 2 P Bray (Durham City, SP) 37.19; 3 O Watson (Dur C, SP) 37.31. Fastest times: 1 D Jenken (Dur C, Fast Pack scr) 34.29; 2 L Timmins (Morpeth, FP) 35.12; 3 M Hood (Sunderland, MP +2 ½ mins) 36.14.

Teams – Div 1: 1 Durham City 49; 2 Gateshead 86; 3 Sunderland 130; 4 Morpeth 146; 5 Tyne Bridge 196. Div 2: 1 Sunderland Strollers 114; 2 Tynedale 132; 3 Crook 154. Div 3: 1 Blyth 219; 2 Jesmond Joggers 241; 3 Sun City Tri 272.

Senior Women: 1 J Ritson (Durham City, SP + 4 mins) 28.23; 2 C Dowinton (Newcastle Univ, SP) 30.03; 3 S Marr (Tyne Bridge, SP) 30.03. Fastest times: 1 E Holt (Morp, SP scr) 26.54; 2 A Dargie (Tyne Bridge, FP) 27.45; 3 N Nolan (Gates, FP) 28.08.

Teams – Div 1: 1 Tyne Bridge 31; 2 Durham City 44; 3 North Shields Poly 56. Div 2: 1 Morpeth 28; 2 Alnwick 65; 3 South Shields 76.