NEHL Alnwick Cross-Country Fixture – 5th March 2016

Following the cancellation of last month’s cross-country fixture on Newcastle’s Town Moor due to flooding, more than 1000 north-east runners were keen to race again after a long break of 3 months.  As always, Alnwick did not disappoint.  The castle provided a stunning backdrop to a tough course, with copious amounts of thick mud and very changeable weather.  This was cross-country as it’s meant to be, and not for the faint-hearted!

44 Tynedale Harriers made the trip, but numbers in the junior categories in particular were lower than usual because of a clash with the English Schools’ Cross-Country Championships taking place in Nottingham.  Many of the region’s fastest juniors were representing their county there.

The senior women had the largest of Tynedale’s teams, with 12 runners.  They were led home by Karen Robertson who recorded the 9th fastest run of the day (and fastest in the V45 age category).  She was running from the fast pack, with a 4-minute handicap, and finished 31st overall out of a field of 278.  Kirstie Anderson, also running from the fast pack, was second team counter for Tynedale (68th), followed soon after by Tamsin Cass (82nd) and Lucy Siddle (94th from the medium pack).   Marathon training obviously agrees with Tamsin as she had a fantastic race!  It was great to have Bridget Broadhurst and Louise Chicken back on the team for the first time this season.  Our other runners at Alnwick were Charlie Pinkney, Laura Henderson, Alex Bennett, Kate Lowdon, Kim Firstbrook & Kim Bluck.

The ladies finished the day in 9th place in Division One, which leaves them in the precarious position of 8th overall with one race left this season.  Of the 10 teams in the division, the bottom two will be relegated to Division Two at the end of the season, so Tynedale’s women must pull out all the stops at the final race to avoid relegation.

In the junior categories, the most successful Tynedale team was once again the U15 girls who won their race for the third time this season!  Ellen Ricketts recorded the fast time of the day – running from the fast pack, she crossed the line in 4th place.  Jamsmine Couchman (9th) and Bella Chicken (15th), also running from the fast pack, were the other counters for the team.  They were backed up with strong runs by team mates Rhianna Nitsch, Bethan Nitsch, Poppy Goldsmith and Freya Barr.  With one race to go they are standing well clear at the top of their league.

In the U15 boys’ race, Tynedale’s team of five finished 7th on the day, to leave them lying in 4th place overall.  Cameron Grey (18th), Aidan Pinkney (39th) and Patrick Lally (44th), who all ran from the fast pack, were the three counters.  James Weightman and Joe Green made up the team.

Rosie Dawson was first finisher for Tynedale in the U17 girls’ race.  She finished in 9th place & has earned herself promotion to the fast pack for future races.  Ellie Bluck (17th, from the fast pack) and Freya Murphy (18th) were the other two counters and they were quickly followed home by Anna Channon.  The team finished in 4th place on the day and are currently standing in 2nd place in their league, so are hoping to maintain that in the final fixture.  No Tynedale U17 boys ran at Alnwick.

Another runner earning promotion at Alnwick was Kate Salthouse who finished 3rd in the U13 girls’ race.  Olivia Milburn (12th) and Lucy Thorpe (42nd) both ran from the fast pack and were the other members of Tynedale’s U13 team.  They are lying in 3rd overall after a 4th place finish on the day.

Tynedale didn’t manage to turn out a full team in the U13 boys’ race, but Alexander Weightman and Tom Barrett both ran strong races in the difficult conditions.

Finally, three Tynedalers ran in the popular U11 races: Ciaran Lally, Hannah Skinner and Rebecca Green.

This was the penultimate fixture of the season and final team positions are now just around the corner.  The final fixture will be held at Wrekenton On March 19th.

Kim Bluck

Well done to all the Senior Men who made the long trip up to Alnwick for the penultimate Harrier League fixture of the season.  We were greeted by freezing cold sleet as we lined up for the start and the course was more slippery and soft than previous years reflected in significantly slower times.
Adam Pratt was first to finish in a fantastic 57 th place from the Fast Pack, our fastest runner by some distance.  He was closely followed by Ali Maxwell, also showing great form in finishing 66th from the medium pack, but fortunately  just outside the promotion positions (66th place).  Peter Hearn is showing great consistency this season with a 99th place and then Ian Brown was fastest over 55 with 139th place.  Final two counters were Phil Vincent (179th from Medium) and myself (183rd from Fast).  Just outside the scoring positions on the day were Mike Broadhurst 284th and the ever present Paul Edwin (372nd) in a field of 426 finishers.

Despite our efforts we are struggling to score highly in this division and are currently in bottom place going in to the final fixture at Wrekenton in a fortnight’s time.  It is still mathematically possible to avoid relegation to division 2 but we would probably need to finish 1st or 2nd team and rely on poor finishes by the teams immediately above us (Heaton and Wallsend).

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