Cofton Park, Birmingham
8th March 2014
The national inter-counties championships is perhaps the most illustrious of the national events that congregate in the final few weeks of each cross-country season. Whilst it might have lost some of it’s lustre now that it no longer serves as the selection race for the GB team for the world championships nonetheless the format means that each race contains only athletes of the highest calibre and for most youngsters it is their first race in front of the television cameras.
Counties and regions around the UK can select only a maximum of 8 athletes and the North East sends one team from the combined resources of Northumberland, Durham and Cleveland meaning that places on the start line are highly prized. Unlike the recent national club championships in Nottingham and the forthcoming schools championships the Scottish regions are also represented.
A 10 race programme over all age groups began with the under-20 men’s 8000m race comprising 3 laps of an undulating course that was mostly firm underfoot but with stretches of thick mud in places. Tynedale had an interest in this race with Jonny Currie wearing for the first time, the bright yellow North East Counties vest with its distinctive blue/red/green stripes. A steady but confident start saw him handily placed going into the final lap and he pulled in several more places for an excellent 60th position, 2nd counter for the North East and helping them to 9th in the team competition.
The next Tynedale Harrier to run was Charles Downs in the under-13 event. Also a debutant in North East colours Charles has been a consistently high finisher in the region all season and turned in another strong run for 156th in the large field of over 300 runners.
Max Pearson had a solid run in the under-15 boys race over 4500m. The North East are strong in this age group meaning that despite his talent and ability he was further down the start pen than he might have liked. Nonetheless he started steadily and finished strongly for 103rd pace in another large field of nearly 300. Sadly Max could not be joined in Birmingham by his club-mate Matthew Jackson who had to withdraw whilst he recuperates from illness.
The final Tynedale representative was Ellen Ricketts who has been setting the local harrier league alight all season and had another excellent run to finish 90th and 4th counter for the North East team.
It is an impressive achievement for the club to be represented by so many athletes across the age groups and the quartet were agreed that the event is a huge step up from local competitions. Nonetheless all acquitted themselves well –a credit to the junior coaching team who have been guiding them all season.
Look out for the tv highlights on Skysports this Saturday at 12pm.
Alan’s pics on Flickr here