On Saturday thirteen Tynedale Harriers made the long trip down to Blackburn to compete against the best cross-country runners in the North of England. The annual Northern Cross country Championships were held in Witton Country Park, and it proved to be a really tough course not helped by the testing weather conditions. Club tents were in danger of blowing off the ground in an icy wind as the first race got underway. Things did not improve as the runners were bombarded by frequent hail showers as they battled through the mud.
Jaycee Shotton and Christopher Jackson were first up in the U17 Men. Christopher finished 92nd position and Jaycee in 96th position. Hannah Pinkney was next up in the U17 girls finishing a fine 41st place in a race won by the very impressive Kate Waugh from Birtley AC. This was followed by the U15 boys race. Hannah’s brother, Aidan, and Joe Green worked valiantly to stay with the pace and finished a creditable 152nd and 166th places respectively. Nearly all the runners were commenting on the difficultly of the course which had a long climb on each lap and a flat parkland section which was rapidly turning in to a heavy sea of mud. In the Under 13 girls Olivia Milburn and Lucy Thorpe were in their first season of Cross country. Olivia had a fantastic run in 75th place and Lucy ran strongly in 186th. Keely French was sole club representative in the U15 girls finishing a solid 122nd, and it was a similar story for Archie Marston in the U13 boys who was 141st.
The senior races were last in the programme and by this time there was deep mud on many parts of the course that was claiming quite a few shoes from unfortunate runner’s feet. Probably the best performance of the day was from top veteran Karen Robertson finishing well up the field in 60th place out of over 350 runners. Best local athlete was Rosie Smith from Durham who just lost out on a silver medal in the final few metres.
There were over 700 runners in the senior men’s race and Andy Green, coming back from injury, battled the worst of the mud to finish in 246th place. The men’s course was particularly brutal including 2 long and steep hills on each of 4 laps, and many were reduced to a walk on the steeper sections. Few of the athletes admitted to enjoying the experience, but the enthusiatic supporters and excellent venue made it a day to remember.