Saturday 8 December saw Tynedale Harriers competing at the 113th running of the North Eastern Counties Cross Country Championships at Wrekenton, Gateshead. Although familiar to local athletes as a regular fixture in the Start Fitness North East Harrier League, for this contest the course – a hilly mixture of gravel paths and muddy tracks – ran in the opposite direction; this offered a new set of challenges for athletes on the day, in addition to the gale force winds that saw one club’s tent blow away down the field and cross the finish line in spectacular fashion.
Although not eligible to compete as part of the Championships, the U11s were the first to run, with Tynedale’s Jem Henderson battling down the finishing straight to finish 2nd, just ahead of his opponent. In the U13 Boys category, Nathaniel Henderson also ran a very strong race to finish 4th.
The U15 Boys category saw Tynedale’s first complete team of the day. Charlie Daley lead the charge, finishing in 5th position and just 23 seconds behind the winner and, with Ralph Robson (19th) and Harry Courtney (33rd) not far behind, the team finished in a fantastic 5th place overall. Although the club was unfortunately unable to field a complete U15 Girls team, this didn’t put Kate Salthouse (9th) off her stride. Ishbel Speirs ran in the U17/20 Women’s category to finish 33rd, and Jaycee Shotton finished 18th in the U20 Men’s category.
Tynedale’s senior men were the next to run, covering 12km rather than the more usual 9-10km of the Harrier League. Despite getting boxed in at the start, team captain Ben Heathcote fought his way through the field to finish as first counter for the club in 50th place. Close behind in 84th place was Andy Green, showing the form that saw him promoted back into the fast pack at the last Harrier League fixture; Andy will be looking to build on this going into the Northern Cross Country Championships in January. Harrier League regulars Paul Hutchinson (199th), Will Lloyd (218th), Bernard Kivlehan (298th) and Vincent Thornley (335th) completed the team.
With no senior women competing for the club on the day, the last Tynedale Harrier to run was U17 Dan Joyce. Whilst perhaps best known as a highly talented middle distance runner, specialising in the 800m, Dan showed just how big his range is by stepping up to the 6km distance and finishing in a solid 14th place.
With no more fixtures between now and the end of the year, Tynedale Harriers’ cross country teams will next be donning the spikes for the historic Sherman Cup/Davison Shield at Temple Park, South Shields, on 5 January 2019.