NEHL Alnwick Fixture – 3 March 2012
Following yet another highly successful day for Tyne Bridge Harriers in the NEHL, we have two fantastic reports from both Mens & Womens teams. Firstly, Mark Reynolds sends in this account
TBH Magic at home of Harry Potter!
The TBH men’s team did not require the assistance of Nimbus 2000 broomsticks at the first Alnwick meeting of the North East Harrier League today. A squad of experienced and determined runners raced round the challenging new course and scooped podium finishes and team honours to boot.
The Tyne Bridge guys turned up in force for the newest North East XC fixture in what promised to be a great day at the races. Set in the ancient grazing grounds of the Dukes of Northumberland, the course took in fields, hills, woodland and pasture. Overlooked by the impressive Alnwick Castle, home to Harry Potter’s magical school Hogwarts, it was just possible to hear faint cries from Quidditch practice in the distance. Jogging the course in order to get the lie of the land, everyone agreed that it was an appealing and demanding 2 mile loop. Running through fields before climbing a series of hills to a woodland ridge the second mile contained a steep descent designed to trip up the unwary. Ending in a small but perfectly formed bog the finish line was flat and fast in front of the tented village. The running clubs of the North East had gathered in force to support the event put on by Alnwick Harriers who were marshalling the course and also fielding runners aplenty.
First up was Leodhais taking part in the opening race of the programme up against a packed field of under 13’s. Ascending the first hill he looked determined and focussed (possibly a family trait) jockeying for first place alongside an Elswick Harrier. Leodhais briefly took the front position before being passed on the final descent by a runner from the fast pack. He hung onto him though and charged over the finish line to take a fantastic silver medal position, within seconds of the winner. Our youngest representative had laid down a challenging marker to the rest of the team, how would they respond?
The senior men’s race set off at 1:15 pm with the massed ranks of the slow pack surging onto the course like a horde of Dementors. Early on Louis Goffe and Kevin Jeffress established themselves in the leading group setting the pace for the chasing crowd. Closely marking them was Rob Wishart, showing that his long distance training regime has made cross country his true metier, with Andy Harrison in hot pursuit. The enigma that is David Embleton put in a guest appearance and showed us how it’s done with Chris Meek in tow. Somewhere in the midst of all this Gary ‘Potter’ Wright and Shaun ‘Draco’ Brown, in their Harrier League debuts, fought a close duel involving spikes rather than wands. Gary did give a slight advantage to Shaun by proving unable to negotiate the boggy bit on his feet and had a close encounter with the ground before picking himself up and pushing on undaunted.
Before I knew it the medium pack were making their way through the field with Kenny Mac taking up where his son had left off. Close on his heels were Keith Smith, Captain Paul Hilton and David Moir as the field wove through the trees. It was at this point that I suffered the embarrassment of committing a true running faux pas – yes, I failed the ‘tying up the laces tightly’ element of the course. As I rapidly re-shoed Mark Hall and David Appleby flashed by onto the fast descent. Experienced fell runner Gareth Huxley dealt with the ups and downs with characteristic aplomb. More challenging for him were the flat bits where he became the second TBH’er to plant his face on the way round. Maybe a bit more coaching on staying on our feet might be in order?
Three laps of the course ensured that the field strung out along its entire route with individual battles being fought throughout. Amongst a number of casualties was Rob Kirtley who DNF’d due to a niggling foot injury. I came up to the final crest in a group of runners, all of whom looked like they could use some magic potion to get them over the line. Using the descent to gather some momentum I skipped over Gary’s slough of despond and came to the front of the little group on the final corner before crossing the line shortly ahead of Ron Murray.
As the lads gathered and compared performances hope began to grow of a great team result. With top ten finishes for Louis (3rd, and the second medal of the day) and Kevin (a splendid 5th) the next four counters all came inside the top 40 to cap a fine day out in the countryside. TBH have consolidated their commanding position at the top of Division 3 in our debut season; chalked off another 1st team place at the overall event; picked up two medals and laid the foundation for an end of season finale at Prudhoe in three weeks time. Well done to all those rewarded for their efforts by promotion to faster packs – Louis, Kevin and Rob W (all up to medium) and Macpherson’s Snr and Jnr (both up to fast!).
Many thanks for the vocal support from the Tyne Bridge massive around the course, as well as the welcome supply of goodies in the hospitality tent, provided with selfless dedication, as ever, by Team Kirtley.
The Professor Dumbledore Athlete-of-the-Day prize belongs to young Leodhais with sterling supporting performances from all and sundry. Alnwick Harriers may well have created an instant classic with this cross country event and it was great to be part of the Tyneside team that took home the inaugural honours.
Tyne Bridge Harriers - NEHL - Alnwick: Mens Results
Following that fantastic report from Mark, we have one from our superb ladies team as Carolina Freeman send her account of the days events
Alnwick: PASTURES NEW
The penultimate cross country fixture of the season was by far the best NEHL experience I’ve ever had in terms of location. The course was set in the picturesque pastures that shadow one of the region’s most historic treasures, Alnwick Castle. The timeless beauty and charming natural splendour of the area was an experience I shared with 13 TBH ladies -the largest ladies team turnout out to date.
There is nothing quite like the excitement to the build up of a race and this was no exception. The reality of fulfilling our potential by gaining promotion to the First Division has filled me a passion which I would like to personally describe as a boundless enthusiasm for the team to succeed. This race was our opportunity to climb a further few steps of the ladder of success and show the North East our strength , dedication and determination…and we did just that!
Late night-late morning
That gut feeling of excited anticipation at the possibility of what lies ahead resulted in an extremely late night on the eve of the race. As a consequence I couldn’t resist the snooze button the following morning. This tardy start to the day was quickly rectified however thanks to ‘Shaun Anthony Brown’, as in no time at all, the panic was over and we were heading up the A1, making good progress toward our destination, with plenty of time to spare.
On arrival, the dependable and reliable ‘Kirtley Team’ gave a warm welcome in the hospitality tent. I could also feel the warmth and excitement of the harriers friendly faces. Everyone was upbeat and glowing with positivity and I knew it was going to be a fine day for us all.
I always like to check out the course prior to a race. I feel it’s important to map out what opportunities and what dangers the course presents and where would be most likely to create an oxygen debt. I didn’t get a chance to check to entire course however as I had to make the journey to race head quarters to collect a replacement number. It was quite a trek from the hospitality tent so I was more than happy to bump into a few of the TBH ladies who had just arrived in Alnwick. Once we all had organized our numbers I managed to squeeze into the car and we all happily set off back down towards the start to find a parking space.
The men’s race had already begun but we were just in time to cheer everyone on as they made their way around the second of three laps. The ideal position of the tent meant we could finalise our race preparation whilst shouting words of encouragement and support.
Anticipatory nausea, aka ‘pre race’ nerves is something I have had to deal with prior to every race. On this occasion the excitement of the day was overwhelming and my central nervous system was fueled with so much adrenaline I had to take a ‘time-out’ moment to calm down. In hindsight its quite amusing but a difficult experience to deal with at the time. Nevertheless, TBH’s very own pillar of strength ‘Mr Davey Anderson’ was at hand to help calm my pre race nerves and within ten minutes I was psyched and ready to race!
Seconds before the gun, the sun made a much welcomed appearance.
‘BANG’…and off we went.
I didn’t get quite the start I was aiming for–I got pushed back with a bit of jostling and shoving, but even so the race was on. The first 100metres of the course were flat with good conditions underfoot. A few sharp turns later and I found myself surging along another long flat stretch of ground with the stunning views of the castle in sight.
The toughest part of the lap was approaching – the ascent! I began to prepare myself mentally for the challenge ahead and dug deep until the course levelled out at the top. The exact details of the course at this point are a little hazy, which is most likely to be due to the oxygen debt I was paying back. Once this ‘debt’ had been repaid the beauty of the actual course became apparent. I was surrounded by the striking beauty of woodland which was intensified by the sunlight piercing through the trees. Despite absorbing the beauty of the course at this point, I was quickly brought back to reality that this wasn’t a leisurely nature trail. The momentum of gravity that carried me downhill was a shock to the system. I was gaining speed at such a rate, one wrong footing would have send me tumbling.
At this point I could hear the shouts of encouragement from my fellow TBH’s- spurring me on, giving me the incentive to push on.
One more lap to go….
The second lap was much the same although I felt I lacked a little in stamina. However in the final push for the line, I ended with a strong finish in a time of 32.38 and 29th overall.
‘Pastures’ new ‘
I would like to take this opportunity to say how proud I am of all the TBH ladies who ran at this event. For some it was an entirely new experience, not only in terms of new terrain but also from a competitive aspect. Well done to all who raced as it goes without saying that cross country running is a very challenging sport! Proud to be a TBH !!
Tyne Bridge Harriers - NEHL - Alnwick: Womens Results
Tyne Bridge Harriers Ladies finished in a fantastic 3rd place on Saturday which means that overall in the league, TBH Ladies are in 2nd position just 6 points behind Gateshead & 5 points ahead of Blyth. With one more XC Meeting to go on 24th March at Prudhoe, We hope to see another fantastic turnout from the lasses to secure their promotion into Division 1 next season.