In ‘blazing’ conditions Tyne Bridge Harriers blazed to glory at the final Start Fitness NEHL meeting at Prudhoe today.
On a challenging and gruelling course, both Mens & Womens teams cemented their promotion into their respective divisions. The men move into division two next season as they were announced champions of Division 3, while the ladies move into Division 1 being placed 2nd in Division two !!
Well done & THANK YOU to everyone who has contributed to the success of Tyne Bridge Harriers in their first year of competition in the NEHL
Dave Appleby sends this report from the Mens days activities
Saturday 24th March will be remembered in local athletics folklore for a number of reasons, it marked the unprecedented clean sweep of victories in all six races by one Club in a season and it marked the day that the infamous Prudhoe Harrier League was ran in tropical conditions.
Ask any athlete about Prudhoe and you will be regaled with tales of the hills and mud. The course basically involves running up and down big hills through farmers fields in the Tyne Valley. Previously I have run it in foot deep snow, been knee deep in water crossing the river in the valley and almost been on hands and knees crawling up the hill in thick claggy mud. It is one of the more bizarre aspects of running and cross country running in particular that the tougher the course and the worse the conditions are, the more credibility the race has. The actual difficulty of the Prudhoe course was no different this year, with ‘The Hill’ being faced twice, but the usual claggy mud was replaced by bone hard ground with deep ruts and tractor treads, which made the underfoot conditions a little treacherous, particularly on the downhill sections.
The first race of the day with Tyne Bridge representation was the under 13 Boys with our own Leodhais Machperson running in the fast pack for the first time following his promotion at Alnwick. Louis rang another strong run looking comfortable even managing a smile for our photographer in residence, Rob Kirtley as he passed him on the way to the finish. We are still awaiting publication of the results for the age groups so can’t report exactly where Leodhais finished.
Next up was the Senior Men, this year Prudhoe clashed with a couple of other races over the weekend, with Wallington Half Marathon and Thirsk 10 miler depleting the Tyne Bridge contingent somewhat. We still managed to field 9 athletes, more than enough to finish a team and hopefully take that all important sixth first place in Division 3.
The race set off at the usual time of 1.15, TBH had four runners starting in the slow pack, with Dave Embleton making his return to the Harrier League, Dave was supported by Shaun Brown, John Tollitt and Andy Lisle. The medium pack set off two and a half minutes after the slow pack, with Dave Moir, Keith Smith, Sparrow Morley and myself all representing TBH, this gang of four were set to be chased down by the fast pack a further two and a half minutes later, with Kenny Mac also making his first fast pack debut following his promotion at Alnwick.
The course set off, not unsurprisingly, up a hill before taking a left turn and hurtling steeply down into the Tyne Valley. This required navigation through farm gates which were deeply rutted from the farm vehicles. This provided some anxious moments after hitting the gates at pace and trying to pick the best line through the rock hard ruts. The course continued downhill before hitting the first ‘small’ hill on a switchback, heading across the stream and a loop around large field at the bottom of the valley before facing the long, long drag up ‘The Hill’. This proved to be as difficult as I remember it from the last time I did Prudhoe about 17 years ago. It can only be described as a long painful slog up through the woods and into an open field at the steepest point before turning right onto a ‘slight rise’ and heading back to the starting point, only to do the whole thing again for a joyous second time, just for fun! The second lap proved more painful than the first; approaching the hill for the second time I was passed by Kenny who seemed to be gliding over the ground as opposed to by laborious trudge. Watching him disappear up the hill, I caught sight of Sparrow who was, it turned out struggling with a calf problem, I used this as incentive to try to work up the hill, but boy was it hurting. I still managed to pull back a few more places on the run in to the line passing Sparrow on the way, I’ll probably never be able to say that again so I have included it in the report.
As the race evolved Dave Moir had moved through the field from the medium pack to finish in an excellent 43rd place outsprinting Dave Embleton to the line, with Dave finishing in 45th position 1 second behind Mr Moir, who was extremely proud of his achievement in ‘doing’ his club mate in a sprint finish. Shaun Brown was next counter in an excellent 68th position; Kenny Machpherson had a storming run to move through from the fast pack to 79th position with the final counters for the team being John Tollitt and Keith Smith. This proved to be enough to secure the unprecedented sixth first place for the team and with it the Division 3 title. On the day TBH were 8th team overall out of a total of 25 counting teams being beaten only by Clubs from Division 1 and two teams fighting for promotion from Division 2.
Thanks must go to all of the supporters who turned out to witness the achievements, with Captain Hilton, Davey Anderson, Ron Murray, Mickey Duff, Rich Tailford and Danielle Rutherford amongst those in attendance. Very special thanks must go to Rob and Sue Kirtley who have been ever present this winter from Alnwick to Pontefract bringing the Tyne Bridge Hospitality tent and camera to capture TBH making history across the North of England.
As Kenny has said on numerous occasions the Harrier League is unlike any other competition, every single runner is important as any other regardless of whether you are first counter or the last in the club. On Saturday Andy Lisle was as important as Dave or Kenny, every runner he held off or passed helped push another club further back. That is the beauty of the Harrier League. In 2011-2012 Tyne Bridge have placed ourselves well and truly on the Harrier League map with some exceptional performances, winning outright from Division 3 on at least three occasions is unheard of. Hopefully we can build on this in the 2012-13 season and move straight through Division 2 and secure promotion. If you haven’t experienced the Harrier League yet please make every effort to next season. There is something special about it; you won’t experience team spirit anything like it on the roads. You might get a bit muddy and your legs might get a bit tired but it is great fun.
Tyne Bridge Harriers Mens Results
43 Dave Moir 38:09
45 Dave Embleton 38:10
68 Shaun Brown 38:47
79 Kenny Mac 38:54
82 John Tollitt 38:58
88 Keith Smith 39:14
117 Dave Appleby 39:55
122 Sparrow Morley 40:03
230 Andrew Lisle 44:53