A bright, crisp winter’s morning greeted about 700 runners from clubs across the region for the Durham Cathedral Cross Country Relays. Each team was made up of three runners, each running two laps of a roughly 1 mile course. Based on University sports fields next to the river, the route was mainly flat save for a short steep pull up a grassy bank. The hard frost meant it was very firm underfoot and there was some debate about the merits of spikes versus fell/trail shoes.
Tynedale had five teams entered; three Women’s teams, and both Senior Men and Veterans Men’s teams.
The Veteran Men’s race started proceedings, and Andy Green on first leg was among the leaders from the beginning, finishing 3rd in an excellent time of 10’42. Marcus Byron took over and soon found himself being caught by other second leg runners, finishing in 24th place. Ian Brown brought the team home with a solid run, catching some runners and being caught by others with the net result of losing one additional place, meaning Tynedale finished 25th out of 81 teams, not bad considering we were well below ‘full strength’.
Next off were the ladies, with Veteran and Senior Women running together. Fran Little, Karen Robertson and Rhiannon Robinson were the three first leg runners. Karen set off very strongly, with Fran not far behind. Coming into the finish field Fran was gaining all the time but Karen held on to bring the ‘B’ team home ahead of ‘A’ for the first leg, her time being the fastest for a VL45 on the day. Jen Lapping and Lynne Marr were second leg runners for the A and B teams respectively, and Jen soon caught Lynne to take the A team into the lead. Jen handed over to Maria Armstrong who had another strong run with a time 12’34 for her leg, bringing the team home in 15th place and 2nd V35. Meanwhile Steph White brought the B team home in a creditable 32nd, and what looks like would be 2nd V45 team overall, despite having two V50 runners. Jan Oliver and Louise Griffen followed Rhiannon to bring the C team home in 66th place out of 82 teams – a good effort.
The final race was the senior men, with Phil Thompson, Lea Stephenson and Adam Pratt making up the team. Phil set off at a cracking pace with a great first leg in 10’31, in 19th place, Lea’s 11’35 saw Tynedale in 28th after two legs and Adam clawed back a few places with a run only 2 seconds slower than Phil, the team finishing in a creditable 21st place overall.
This was great event; very smoothly run with, apparently, excellent hot bacon and sausage rolls to boot. The next relay event is the Signals Road Relays in Hetton Lyons Park, Hetton le Hole on Saturday 15th February. We hope to have some strong teams out for that as well. The next cross country event is the Northern Cross Country Championships in Knowsley Safari Park near Liverpool, with the next Harrier League fixture at Wrekenton on 8th February.
Results from Durham here
Photo: Maria setting off on leg three for the women’s ‘A’ team. ©Steve Garrett, Gaslamp Images