Here we have TWO excellent reports from a superb day out in the field at the North East XC Championships in Cramlington. Firstly, K Mac posts
North East XC Championships 2011
Saturday the 10th of December 2011 heralded the North East County Championships, one of the biggest club races in the calendar. Tyne Bridge Harriers in its inaugural year were, as usual, well represented and they had their new flag flew majestically amongst the other club flags & the embattlement of tents at the race venue.
Leodhais who recently turned 11 years old was first to run in the Under 13 race and he had a steady run to finish in 33rd place. As he has two more years in this category we expect a top 20 from him next year. It was a good performance considering he was up against a lot of older boys.
In true TBH style the footage of his race was up on the internet within 5 minutes of the race finishing.
Next off was Jack Neeson in the Under 20 race. We were hoping for Jack to run in the senior race but that wasn’t to be and he did himself proud in a very strong category to finish in 11th position in a time 29.59. The race having been won by Cameron Boyak of Shildon who is Junior Great Britain Internationalist.
Then it was the Senior Mens Race for Tyne Bridge and today the veterans in the club stood out with five “oldies” counting out of six for the club points, with Tony Carter working abroad, Rob De’Giovanni, Keith Smith and Adam Simms unable to count and Mark Fenwick not being able to make the race. 16 men wearing the Black and White all knowing that every point would count and every person beaten on the line would help the team.
Off we go and the course has a slow climb to the top, everybody is huddled together, feeling for space and position. I am next to Paul Waterstone and Phil Walker as we rise to the top. Sparrow is ahead of me and on the first drop I let myself “fall” down the hill overtaking a good few runners. The ground is greasy and boggy is rutted with the spikes of other races ran previously. Another rise and the first group of spectators urging us on. Sean Kelly and Deka seemed to be at every corner and there encouragement was invaluable.
Sparrow was approx 100 metres away from me as we traversed around the course, Paul Waterston 50 metres. I was purposely using a surging method for this race for the first time and was respecting the climbs and opening up on the downhills. The course was very absorbing and I just tried to dig in and keep as close to Paul as I could. Lap three came and I felt fresh enough and overtook a few people . Paul Waterston was still running well and was keeping the same distance from me. I felt I was getting closer to Sparrow and overtook him on the first climb.
A crowd of spectators had congregated at the final climb and I could hear Sassy and Leodhais shouting my name. Paul and I at this were at this point like two rutting stags as I gained some distance and was running alongside him. We got to the top of the hill and I was off, worried that Sparrow, who perhaps has the strongest finish I know, would catch me at the end although using the “pillar of salt” lesson, I refused to look back.
I finished in 33rd position and Sparrow was not long after me in 35th position. It shows the strength that Sparrow has to hang in there when he was obviously tiring and this will put him in good stead for 2012.
In 51st position, with perhaps the run of the day was Dave Moir, closely followed by Gareth Huxley and Mark Hall in 56th and 57th position.
6th counter in 65th was ever dependable Paul Hilton to close the team.
Other finishers were David Daniels 77th, David Appleby 85th, Keith Smith 96th, Rob Wishart 129th, Chris Meek 156th, John Hurse 193rd, Micky Baker 218th, Phil Brown 267th, Mark Grassie 273rd and Trev Wakenshaw 284th.
9 runners in the top 100 is an amazing feat but the bad news was that we just lost out on 3rd place to Durham City by 3 points.
Then it was the turn of the ladies. The ladies have gone from strength to strength in our first year and it was great to see 8 ladies run for the club,
First home was Catherine Amos in 38th position which is an excellent start to her running career. Next home was Catherine Willis in 53rd position. Considering Miss Willis does not like cross country she did not do half bad. 3rd counter was the rejuvenated Elspeth Lawson in 61st closely followed by Kerry Reed and Lisa Walker is 66th and 67th position.
In 90th position was club Captain Denise Waugh, exorcising the ghosts of her last Cramlington race when she had to pull out to to not feeling well .Well done Denise.
To finish off for the ladies was the ever improving Sarah Kipling and Jude Smith in 95th and 102nd respectively,
The girls finished in 10th position and did themselves and the club proud.
Both Senior Mens and Womens teams are still building and there are athletes at the club that will improve the team for next year even further. We have come a long way in the first year of existence and we WILL get stronger.
This is a message to the Athletics Community ” You ain’t seen nothing yet”
2012 bring it on. Everybody will improve, Athletes who hit the despair of reaching a plateau of non improvement will be helped with a kick up the ar$e when its needed and an arm around the shoulder when that is needed.
“Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it.”
So enjoy the festivities, have a beer, relax but come 2012 be fit, be ready to continue this revolution.
Next up.. from the ladies.. our Ladies Captain Denise Waugh sends in this report
This was always going to be the race that I would write a report about – North Eastern Cross Country Championships at Cramlington – my nemesis! Earlier in the season, I had to pull out of a race, with less than half a mile to go at this venue, and I had been dreading a return visit. Even more daunting was the fact that this race would be longer and the weather much worse. Could I really attempt this? Of course I could – with support and encouragement from Tyne Bridge Harriers, anything is possible!
As Jude Smith and I drove towards the nature reserve, parked the car and trudged through thick mud towards the TBH tent, I was wondering why I was spending a Saturday afternoon doing this. My stomach was churning with nerves; the weather was bitterly cold with a heavy grey sky and splashes of icy rain; runners were passing us with their backs and legs coated in mud; spectators were shivering with the cold. Spirits were lifted, however, as soon as we reached the TBH hospitality tent (many thanks to Sue, Kerry and Deka for setting this up at 10 am) and we saw the welcoming and friendly faces of the other TBH runners and supporters. Leodhais McPherson and Jack Neeson had both had great runs already (in the Under 13 and Under 20 races) and the men were just about to start their race. It was great to see the TBH vests appearing frequently around the course as the men ran 3 laps but it was absolutely freezing standing watching and even colder visiting the communal toilets in the trees! It was a good result for the men (4th place and missing 3rd place by only 3 points) but we didn’t really have time to talk to them as the whistle had blown for the start of the women’s race. Quickly removing the last of my 6 layers of warm clothing (I’d been removing a layer every 2 minutes to acclimatise), I ran across to the starting area and heard Dave Appleby shouting ‘take it easy on the first lap’ (as if i was ever going to do anything else!) The usual noisy chatter that always accompanies the start of a ladies’ race drowned out any information which was sounding out of the speakers as we all jostled for places. Then, suddenly, we were off…
I was determined not to go off too fast – especially as the race started with an incline – and I ran comfortably up the first hill and along towards the first downhill section. It was then that I started to understand why longer spikes were essential for this race. The mud was ankle deep and I was slipping and sliding as I tried to keep upright. Mud was splashing into my face from runners in front of me and my legs felt like lead as I struggled through the sludge on the next uphill section. As the race moved out towards the edge of the nature park, I could see Jude’s car and I was tempted to run off in that direction instead! It was at this point that the shouts of encouragement from the marshals were really appreciated as I appeared to be running in the same muddy conditions encountered at the Battle of the Somme. As we doubled back to head towards the starting point, I could hear more shouts of encouragement from TBH members. As always, Sean Kelly‘s shouts resounded throughout the course (no matter where you are in a race, Sean will appear alongside and encourage and inspire you – he seems to teleport from one place to another!) As I ran to the end of the first lap, I was seriously wondering whether I’d make it around the course again. The second lap was even muddier and much more slippery than the first and I really struggled with the uphill sections this time. 5 miles seemed like 15! As I reached the last third of a mile, however, I seemed to find some energy from somewhere and finished strongly – with several TBH members spurring me on with their shouts. The TBH Women’s Team had proved once again that they’re going from strength to strength with great runs from all concerned. Well done Cath Amos, Cath Willis, Kerry Reed, Elspeth Lawson, Lisa Walker, Sarah Halliwell-Kipling and Jude Smith.
(a few photos to be published on this page hopefully tomorrow – RK)