Jan 30 2012

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Northern Cross Country Championships: Report & Results

From another excellent day at the races we have two fantastic Race Reports. One from Kenny MacPherson from the Mens team, the other from Sarah Kipling in the Ladies. First up, Kenny Mac‘s account of the days activities.

Saturday the 28th of January 2012 heralded the annual Northern Cross Country Championships which this year was being held at Pontefract Park. It was one of the main objectives in the formation of Tyne Bridge Harriers that we would compete at all Regional and National events so a wee trip down the A19 to Yorkshire was a no brainer. Two minibuses and several cars headed South and we had competitors in Under 13 boys, Under 20 Men, and Senior Men and Women.

Kenny Macpherson

I was driven down by Club Coach Davie Anderson with Sgt Major Micky Baker co pilot. I had the fortune to be sitting near to Rob Wishart who regaled us with tales from his ultra running training and competing and how he hallucinated running from Bowness to Newcastle when he decided on a whim to run Hadrians Wall overnight in time to compete at Newcastle Parkrun which he did incidentally in 25 minutes. Oh how the Roman ghosts would have birrelled in their graves to the sight of a Pictish Warrior running along their prized wall in the dead of night.

We arrived early at the venue to be greeted by mine hosts Rob & Su Kirtley with an erect tent and the tea brewing nicely in the corner. In fine tradition Su had made flap jacks which were devoured by our hungry Clan. We had shared our vehicles with Brian Hetherington and Tony Maddocks from Wallsend Harriers and they cuddled in to our tent with the talk all about the race and the conditions.

The route was mostly flat, not much mud, no rivers to cross and it was a beautiful sunny day. Not the kind of day we are used to in Newcastle in the middle of Winter.

Leodhais MacPherson

Leodhais was first off in the Under13 race and although he was one of the youngest in his category he did himself proud with a steady run and a strong finish. He has two more years in this category so will improve year on year.

Jack Neeson

Next up was Jack Neeson in the Under 20 race in which was the toughest race of the day. Bearing in mind Cameron Boyak of Shildon , a Great Britain athlete in his age group came 6th it was credit to Jack to see him come in at 49th position. Jack will now be able to compete for the Senior Men from now on and would have hoisted us up a few more places if he was able to run for the Senior Men. Oh Happy Birthday by the way Jack.

Next off for the Male of the Species was the Senior Men and oh we had some very very Senior Men. Not only did we have probably the most athletes in this race but our aggregate age was older than time itself.

Dave Moir

The race was organised in pens and we had probably the worst position in the far right of the course. The start of the race was a rise over some heavy grass and once the gun went we were off. The route took a sharp turn left and I found myself with Dave Moir, penned in and unable to more than jog. I could see Paul Hilton to my left and we had to elbow and push our way through the throngs of slower runners. A gradual decline greeted us and I ran on the edge of the course to overtake runners. I was now alongside Brian Hetherington of Wallsend and Sparrow was just ahead. Approx 100 metres ahead of us was Louis Goffe who had a fast start.

I use and adhere to the quote about Cross Country Running “ Run the first part with your head, the second part with your personality and the third with your heart” and this is probably the best advice on cross country running you can get.

We then ran down to the bottom of the course and traversed some hard rutted ground before being filtered along the route where we could see the front runners in the race. A slow steady rise with a sharp hill meant that we had completed lap 1, the Head Part and now it was Part 2, Running with your personality.

I was making ground on more and more people and was in a slipstream with about six other runners, hanging in and not letting them get away from me. The ground was churning up and I was glad I opted for Spikes and wondered how Keith Smith was doing with his tangerine and black trail shoes.

Lap 3 came around quickly and the miles seemed to be coming thick and fast, I was beginning to think that this course was longer than 12k and how right I was. Running with my heart I told myself everybody is getting tired, keep strong, keep with your group of six and you will take them at the end. Half way around the last lap I passed Lee Bennett of Elswick who shouted encouragement and then it was the small hill and the rise. I began kicking away from my group, a few tried to keep up but I was starting to catch other previous unencountered runners then finish, on my knees with exhaustion, finishing in 148th position.

Louis Goffe

Seconds later a sea of Black and White came in, Louis Goffe running strongly throughout in 156th position closely followed by Sparrow Morley and Kevin Jeffress in 174th and 156th position respectively. Packing behind was Keith Smith in 201st and Dave Moir in 210th position to close the team.

Again to show the quality and depth of the team we had David Daniels who was jogging around in 220th position Captain fantastic Paul Hilton in 231st position and Mark Hall 246th.

Dave Appleby was next in 314th followed by Mark Prendergast in 335th Rob Wishart in 341st and Peter Kennedy in 346th. Mark and Peter will learn a lot from this race and the this group will form a good wee rivalry over the next few months.

Micky Baker

In 432nd position was Derek Reed who is getting the bit between his teeth again and with some decent training he can fly through the rankings at the club. Not far behind Derek was Sgt Major Micky Baker in a brilliant position of 480th.

Final finishers were Gary Wright in 524th, Rob Kirtley in 555th, Ronnie Murray in 598th and Trevor Wakenshaw in 634th. Excellent running lads and every Tyne Bridge position pushes other clubs down the rankings.

Special mention to Brian Hetherington and Tony Maddocks from Wallsend. Brian had a cracking run finishing 160th position. Tony finished in 655th position.

Whilst packing up word came that the results were out and Bill McGuirk slipped me the paper copy of our race. We had come in 15th position and only a few points behind Bingley Harriers and Durham.

What a brilliant start to our Northern Cross Country sojourn and I guarantee each and every one of you that this position will be improved next year. Well done everybody.

Kenny MacPherson

Tyne Bridge Harriers Ladies Team

Next, we have a fantastic report from Sarah Kipling

2012 Northern XC Championships: Ladies Race Report: Sheep Pens & Bobbly Bits

Sarah Kipling

After over a month since my last XC race. The time had come once again to exchange my trainers for spikes. The thought of competing in the northern championships was daunting to say the least. But as with many other TBH members, I arrived at club HQ to meet the mini busses that were going to take us all the way to Pontefract. As we all set off there was a real buzz on the bus. Not far down the A19 we had to pull over as the other bus had stopped. There was a problem with the power. It seemed like it was touch and go whether the full team were going to make it all the way down to the race. After just over 2 hrs. of driving we all arrived at Pontefract race course. The amount of club tents was amazing, never before had I seen so many clubs in one place. One of the first things that I did notice was a row of porta loos. This was a luxury. The normal XC toilet facilities consist of a tree/bush.

Finding our club tent was easy, thanks to the 5 metre high TBH flag. Which I must say stood out on top compared to all the rest. Once we had got rid of our bags we decided to take a walk around the course. This seemed to be a good idea so we at least knew what was in store for us. But then again I think it makes me more nervous. As we were walking the course the U13 race was underway, and it was not long before we seen Leodhais Macpherson. He looked very strong and gave a little smile as we all shouted words of encouragement. On return to the club tent the rest of TBH ladies team had arrived. 3 of them making there XC debut, and what a race to make your debut at.

I must admit it made a nice change for us ladies. We were running on a course that had not been trashed by the men. We were running first. This I liked as the ground was not going to be churned up as much. Hoping this might make the race a little easier.

Denise Waugh

The whistle blew and we all headed down to the start line. This was another first for me. We were all assigned to pens. So as we all crammed into our pens, the thought of sheep sprang to mind. While waiting for the start Dave Anderson and Jimmy Turnbull crammed in the pen with us giving us words of wisdom. Jimmy on the other hand telling us about the time he shouted ‘GO’ at a start of a race. I am sure Jimmy will tell you the full story if you ask him. You could see people around us start their watches and then realising it was a no go. This sent Denise Waugh in giggles saying “he’s done it again” Then we were called to the line. Silence descended amongst the loud chatter that is normal in the ladies race. The gun sounded and we were off. Finding it hard to not get swept away with the crowd, I battled up the first hill to the flat. Trying to pace myself I found that the masses had overtaken me. The first downhill approached which took us down to the boating lake. This was quite slippery. Trying very hard not to fall I managed this with better speed than previous races. I could see Denise Waugh about 20m in front. My thoughts were to catch up to her and try to stay with her. This I managed on the loop. The problem I found with the loop was the “bobbly bits”. Not forgetting the amount of wood debris on the ground. As I caught up to Denise, I felt pain in my left leg radiating from my ankle. I felt as if my foot was on an angle and I could not straighten it. So I was unable to keep up with Denise and had to slow down. But I was going to keep her in my sights. At the beginning of the second lap I began to feel comfortable with my breathing and my pace, so I attempted to overtake a couple of ladies from other clubs.

Elspeth Lawson,Lisa Walker, Kerry Reed

Once again battling my way around the course I found myself once again on the bobbly bits loop. As I was running down I saw Elspeth Lawson running back up. Shouting words of encouragement as we passed she gave me a big smile and wave. I’m not sure how she does it, but always makes XC look easy. Not far behind Elspeth was Lisa Walker and Kerry Reed. Both Lisa and Kerry looked very strong. Once again I shouted words of encouragement, not sure how I managed while trying to traverse around the bobbly bits.

Jude Smith

With Denise Waugh in my sights I was running back up the loop. I then was able to see Jude Smith Running down. I am not sure if Jude heard me shouting “well done, keep it up” As it looked like she was concentrating on those bobbly bits. Next in passing on the loop was Michelle Charlton and Lynne Cornell, running together. This being their first race they looked strong and comfortable. Not able to recollect their names at the time I managed to shout “go on TBH” In return I received a wave.

After the bobbly bits loop was what seemed to be a flat back to the start area, which I can assure you was not. I started to push myself more. Attempting to close the gap between myself and the lady in front. This did not happen. When passing the start area I noticed the men were all standing in their “sheep” pens ready to start. Then all of a sudden Rob Kirtley ran out of his pen shouting words of encouragement.

Michelle Charlton & Lynne Cornell

This always seems to help me when I run and makes me feel like part of the team. I then had to get up that “little” hill. Yes it might have been little but it was very steep. After pulling myself up that hill I tried to sprint to the finish line. That “little” hill had taken what was left out of my legs and I was unable to sprint. As I looked up to the finish line, all I could see was a sea of black and white vests behind the marshals. On closer inspection I realised it was the rest of the team who had already crossed the finish line. It felt amazing listening to then shout my name as I approached the line. Then after the line the hugs started to come. I also realised why I had pain in my left leg. When I looked down at my spikes when I finished, I noticed a massive chunk of wood stuck to one of my spikes. No wonder I could not straighten my foot.

One of the marshals that were sitting there waiting to take the chips commented on the amount of team members we had out that day. “OMG how many have you got out there?” Then we started to shout for Jude Smith on her approach. We may have deafened the marshals as they had to cover their ears with their hands. The ladies team waited at the finish line for all members of the team to finish. I have never seen another team do this. This is what I love about TBH. We are like one very big happy family. I have come to appreciate the support and encouragement that comes so naturally to the TBH family.

Sarah & Megan

Ladies captain Denise Waugh even ran alongside the railings to help encourage Megan Brette over the finish line. Once again this shows the fantastic team spirit that has to be known as TBH.

Well done to all members of the team. Michelle, Lynne and Megan ran a blinder for their first ever XC. Hope to see you at the next one.

I would also like to thank Rob and Su Kirtly for providing the tent and refreshments. You always seem to go out of your way to get everything set up before we arrive. This I know is appreciated by all TBH. Special thanks to Su Kirtley for those amazing apple and cinnamon flapjacks. They were amazing. Also, a big thank you to all the supporters around the course. I can assure you we all appreciate the encouragement you give. Not forgetting Dave Anderson and Paul Hilton. Thank you very much for driving the busses.

TBH Ladies finished in 22nd position on the day. A great debut for our Ladies at an event such as this. Well done lasses !!

Sarah Kipling

Full results from the Northern Athletics XC Championships can be found HERE


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  1. David Daniels

    A couple of fabulous race reports, capturing the passion and spirit shown by all those who ran at the weekend. A race wouldn’t be a race without Jimmy’s ‘false start’ tale. A great day all round, well done everyone. (nb. on advice from my lawyer, I’ve had to leave out my comment about bobbly bits et al)

  2. Cuthbert

    What great race reports – thanks a lot Sarah and Kenny. Just reading them and seeing all those names of TBH stalwarts giving it everything for the team is very inspiring. Great work from everyone on the day – and absolutely fantastic results all round, you should be very proud of your achievements. Knowing how speedy Jack is around a XC course it shows the strength of the field at the Northern level with those results.

    Amazing to think that a little over a year ago TBH was still in its first few weeks and is now fielding a massive team in top regional events and holding its head up high!

  3. Brother Louis

    Wonderful reporting from Sarah and Kenny on a great day at the races. I’d also like to add my thanks to Su & Rob for all their efforts and coach Dave and skipper Paul for getting us all there and back, albeit as a broken man on the return route.

    What a tough day and although I felt blown out of the mud by the top runners, I took comfort in the fact that the winner Steve Vernon, had just weeks ago taken the scalp of Kenenisa Bekele. A great experience to run against so many of the country’s top runners and a very humbling one too!

  4. Big Ron

    Great reports and I was proud to be part of this wonderful day. To have 30 runners over the events is fantastic and as the song goes “Things can only get better”. It was the longest race I have done for about three years and proved to me that you are never too old to compete. i has a very slow first lap but gradually moved up in laps two and three. Just passing runners over more than hald my age gave me a huge boost. Was looking forward to Wrekenton on th e11th but unfortunately I have a previous date at the SOL!

  5. john

    Well done Jack & to all at TBH. Keep up the good work

  6. Denise

    2 fantastic reports! Sarah, you have really done justice to the team spirit shown by the ladies on Saturday and all of their efforts. Kenny, you have summed up the efforts and achievements of the men’s team. Thanks to you both for providing a memento of the day through your reports.

  7. elspeth

    Great report Sarah :) x

  8. michelle

    Great report Sarah,Thank-you for you’re encouragement going around the circuit,it was very much appreciated!!! same goes to everyone else who helped to keep us motivated by giving us a shout out to dig in!! especially Jimmy who seemed to pop up all over the course. Thanks-you

    1. Lynne Cornell

      Thanks Sarah-a really excellent report of the day and for all your support.Thanks to the rest of the ladies team for all your help,support and advice-the sight of you all at the finish line was tremendous. Also thanks to everyone else who shouted encouragement whilst we were running-really kept us going. My first XC but certainly won’t be my last.

  9. Big Ron

    Forgot to mention in my report Rob & Sue for taking the tent and the goodies even if all the flap kack was gone before I managed to get a piece. Also to Dave A and Paul for driving the buses. One thought, if we are going to have as many runners and supporters at future events where transport is needed, would it be beneficial to see how much coach and driver hire would be for say a 50 seater?

  10. Paul Hilton

    Great reports and it was a fantastic day out and I cant wait for the next TBH tour. Ron your talking mega bucks for a Coach with Driver. Unless there are any Coach companies out there that can do us a deal ???????

  11. The Chair

    What fantastic stuff – two great, evocative, reports and some marvellous photos. It’s beginning to sound repetitive, but for a club that has just celebrated a first birthday, to finish fifteenth and twenty-second in the Northern XC is an unbelievable achievement and a fitting testament to all of the hard work that so many people have put into this club. As Kenny Mac said, the club can only grow from this – it’s simply unprecedented, joyous stuff. Well done to everyone! Brilliant!

  12. Chris Thompson

    Great reports and a great day from the sounds of things! Well done everyone

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