Race Report: NEHL Aykley Heads (26.11.2022)

Claire Whitelaw, who recently did the right thing by joining the club, has submitted this report from Saturday’s slog around Aykley Heads.

My first cross country…aged 49

Is it normal to wait till you’re almost 50 years old to do your first cross country?  Running Aykley Heads on Saturday made me wonder why it took so long.  

For a few years I’ve been trekking to the Harrier League and other races, supporting my two TBH Juniors.  

There’s been an ever-louder refrain in my head as I cheer the boys over the finish line: “Why not me? I’m here anyway.”

The excuses have been so many: it’s cold, I’m too busy, I’m not really a runner.

Last month, I finally seized the day.  I joined TBH and bought some entry level trail shoes (£25 More Mile – bargain!). I committed to the next fixture in my head (if not entirely in my heart).

So what about my first cross country?  Well, it was chilly, windy, and it took AGES for the officials to call us to the start. Brr!  But I genuinely loved it. 

The sheer physical demands and focusing on trying not to slip on the steep muddy paths helped me to mentally download after another hectic week.  

I chased round the first lap, making the most of the downhills and felt on a roll.  The second lap was far harder: a test of strength and stamina, particularly the final, brutal uphill.

In an attempt at motivation, I muttered to myself: “Come on, this is meant to be hard.”  I resisted the temptation to walk and kept running (just!) throughout.  

Spectators and fellow TBH runners shouting: ‘Come on, Tyne Bridge!’, plus the supportive cheers on the finish straight from my 13-year-old son, gave me such a boost (thank you, all!).  Such a lovely atmosphere.

I finished with respectable 42m 12s and a satisfying glow. I’m so pleased I gave cross country a try.  I will be back again! 


Claire (5th from left, 10th row back)

Permanent link to this article: https://www.tynebridgeharriers.com/2022/11/27/race-report-nehl-aykley-heads-26-11-2022/


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  1. uh-oh! it’s seems like you’ve been bitten by the cross country bug. Be warned Claire, your Saturday afternoons will never be the same again.

    Well done for completing your first ever XC race :thumbsup:

    • Claire Norman on 27th November 2022 at 21:44
    • Reply

    Well done Claire! I don’t believe for a minute you’re 49 mind!

    • Louis on 28th November 2022 at 09:11
    • Reply

    Cracking read and very pleased you’ve found your new love!!!

    • Claire W on 30th November 2022 at 22:05
    • Reply

    Thank you! 😊

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