The weather on Saturday was uncharacteristically good for a north-east cross-country fixture and probably for the first time ever, there was not a single bit of mud to be seen anywhere on the Wrekenton course. Shoes came back cleaner than when they went out. A massive field of almost 1400 runners from across the north-east turned out to race in the first event of the season, including more than 500 junior athletes. 49 members of Tynedale Harriers raced, including numerous new faces. We were represented across all the age categories, from U11s to seniors and vets.
Tynedale’s largest team of the day was in the senior women’s race, where 12 club members competed in a field of just over 350. The promise of cake is obviously a strong incentive! The ladies had a great start to the season and finished 5th in Division One thanks to storming runs by their 4 counters. Karen Robertson, running from the medium pack, finished in 13th place overall with one of the fastest times of the day. She will be promoted back up to the fast pack from now on. After an absence of a few years to concentrate on her young family, we’re delighted that Rachel Vincent is back on the team – she was second counter, finishing in 28th place, earning herself immediate promotion up to the medium pack. The team’s final 2 counters both ran from the medium pack: Kirstie Anderson will be relieved to have avoided promotion by ONE PLACE by finishing in 36th place, followed by Charlie Pinkney in 107th.
Other returners to the women’s team after a break from cross-country were Lizzie Earle and Steph White, with Julie Pearson having a great race in her first ever senior cross-country fixture. After hours and hours spent supporting Max in all weathers, it was great to see Max at Wrekenton in a support role, cheering on his mum! Lucy Courtney, Louise Griffin, Kim Firstbrook, Gillian Bell and Kim Bluck completed the women’s team.
The U11 boys’ race was first to go, with an enormous field of 99 runners. Nathaniel Henderson was first back for Tynedale in 7th place, followed by Hugo McNicol, Ciaran Lally and Jem Henderson. Rebecca Green was the only runner wearing the Tynedale vest in the U11 girls’ race, finishing 48th out of 66. It is worth pointing out that some of these young club members were the most vocal and enthusiastic supporters for the senior runners later in the day, and their support was really appreciated by everyone!
Next up was the U13 boys’ race. With one 2-mile lap to complete, Charlie Daley ran a very strong race from the slow pack to finish just outside the medals in 4th place in a field of 78 runners. Harry Courtney, also from the slow pack, finished in 12th place, with Archie Marston in 38th place, from the fast pack. Strong performances from all 3 boys meant the team finished in 5th place on the day, giving them a good start to the season. Under the new promotion rules introduced this season, runners finishing in the top 20% of a junior field will be promoted, meaning that both Charlie and Harry will move up to the fast pack from the next fixture.
Tynedale was well represented in the U13 girls’ category, with 6 runners in the 65-strong field. Ciara Thornley (30th), Faith Robson (39th) and Zoe French (40th) were all running from the slow pack and were the 3 counters for the team, finishing overall in 12th place. Olivia Milburn, Lucy Thorpe and Ruby Watts completed the team.
In the U15 boys’ race, we were unable to field a full team, which made for a disappointing start to the season for the team. In a field of 57, Aiden Pinkney, running from the fast pack, was our first finisher in 30th place, followed by Joe Green in 49th from the slow pack.
The U15 girls had more luck, with 4 Tynedale runners turning out. The team finished the day in 7th place after solid runs from their 3 counters: Olivia Stewart who finished in 12th from the slow pack, and fast packers Keeley French (32nd) and Jasmine Couchman (34th). Freya Barr, who was also running from the fast pack, made up the team.
Unfortunately our U17 boys’ team was also incomplete, with just 2 runners turning out to start the season. In a very strong field of 40 runners, Cameron Grey had a tremendous race to finish 8th from the slow pack. He will be promoted to the fast pack from now on. Patrick Lally was the other Tynedale representative, finishing in 33rd from the slow pack.
Once again this season, it’s great that we are able to field a large U17/U20 girls’ team, with 6 of the 47 runners wearing Tynedale vests. Counters for the team were Anya Herdman (23rd) and Bella Chicken (29th) running from the slow pack, as well as Ellie Bluck (32nd, from the medium pack). The team was completed by Laura Vickers, Millie Robertson and Freya Murphy.
More than 530 athletes ran in the senior men’s race, 9 of whom were representing Tynedale. As always, Andy Green ran a very strong race from the medium pack, overtaking hundreds in the slow pack, to finish 40th overall. Jaycee Shotton, in his first ever race in the senior field, ran a blinder to finish in
53rd from the slow pack. Both men will be promoted up a pack from the next fixture. The final four counters for the team, all running from the slow pack, were Alistair Maxwell (86th), Martin Bluck (195th), Mike Broadhurst (239th) and Mike Little (296th). Bernard Kivlehan and Michael Fulthorpe joined the team for the first time and Paul Edwin completed the team.
There is little time to recover before the next fixture at Druridge Bay on Sunday. If last year is anything to go by, it is quite likely that runners will get their feet wet there!