Group 3 leader, Mal Gibson, reports from the latest cross-country fixture.
North East Harrier League. Wallington. Sat Nov 30th.
The National Trust handbook says one of the things we can do at Wallington Hall is “stretch your legs with a walk on the extensive estate.” Well about 60 of our members certainly did stretch their legs in the magnificent surroundings but a lot faster than a walk, that’s for sure.
Having spent the week preparing for my head to head with Mr.Rooney, (sorry Kev, he does get a mention!) I didn’t want to arrive too early and risk getting too cold, tired or over excited for the race so I aimed to arrive for the start of the ladies race. Unfortunately, it meant missing the performance of Leodhais [MacPherson] and our other rising stars but seeing the happy faces of kids and parents suggested things had gone well.
The races were running late (approximately 45 mins) having not eaten much in the morning, this was a bit of a worry. The event and the course used was brilliant so people were not too bothered, although one potential problem was the possibility of runners lower down the field in the men’s race having to finish in fading light.
First of all though, the girls were off. It still seems new to have the girls set up in divisions in the league and into 3 packs in the race, however this does seem to be successful. When the race started we had plenty runners in the first pack. It’s always a worry to see other clubs looking so strong. Charlotte [Carpenter] and Lindsay [Walsh] led our girls but were soon backed up by Louise [Rodgers], Kym [Eden], Sophie [Marr] and Lucy [Matheson] coming from the next pack. A second place finish keeps our girls right up the league which is fantastic. Hopefully as we lose girls to higher packs, others will develop and finish higher up and some of the girls who have been injured lately can return to our ranks. No more fallers please!!
Then it was the turn of the lads. Luckily the weather was fine and light for the time of year. As usual there was lots of support on the first lap. We even had a TBH choir singing as we went past. An ever increasing field meant it is sometimes hard to get running but a longer lap and overall longer race meant we could get into our stride more quickly.
As the race warms up, you notice people from last time. After being beaten on the line by an ex-training partner last time at Jarrow, I was soon alongside him again. Where was Rooney? Why was Mark Reynolds so far ahead of me? When will the medium pack catch me? Have I left the chip pan on? These are all questions that go through your mind.
In the men’s race TBH finished 4th overall. On a personal level I managed to get in the top 200 and also went from 21st TBH finisher to 16th. Jomah [Kekula] ran well and finished strongly to be our first counter. Our regular top performers James [Dunce], Darryl [Davison], Shaun [Brown], Marc [Fenwick] and Sparrow [Morley] backed him up well, meaning we were 4th team. We need to get ahead of Morpeth at the next fixture in February to keep a chance of winning the league.
To end the day the tea and scones were fantastic. Thanks to all involved especially Alex [Lockwood] and Colin [Dilks]. A drive home tired and content in the Northumbrian dusk rounded off a great day for the club. See you all in two weeks at South Shields.