North East-counties Cross Country Championships
Temple Park Saturday 14th December 2013
Temple Park in South Shields is a familiar venue for all Tynedale harriers cross country runners and on Saturday December 14 it played host to the North East Counties Cross-country Championships. The races are a crucial guide for the region’s selectors and representative places are up for grabs in the North East Counties teams for the prestigious end of season inter-counties championships in Birmingham. It was no great surprise therefore that some quality fields were assembled across all age groups. Nonetheless local athletes excelled themselves with three podium placings and a number of athletes will have caught the eye of the selectors.
First off were the under 13 boys. Tynedale have performed strongly in this age group all season and had high hopes. Charles Downs ran confidently for a superb 3rd place and guaranteed selection for the inter-counties squad. Patrick Lally was next home in 28th and a customary determined run by Joe Green brought the team home in an excellent 7th position. Sadly Ben Dykins was forced to drop out in the early stages when well placed, the victim of a foot injury in the stampede at the start.
The under 15 boys were next shine. Matthew Jackson continued his return to form and was unlucky to miss an individual medal with a battling 4th place. Hot on his heels was last year’s under 13 champion Max Pearson in 5th. With Christopher Jackson also excelling in 18th, Tynedale emerged the victors in the team competition and collected the coveted trophy for only the 4th time in its 75 year old history.
Jonny Currie was next to race as the club’s sole representative in the under 20s 8.4km event. Jonny has been making waves in his first season of senior competition and it is mark of his improvement that he crossed the line a little disappointed despite a gutsy run for 8th place.
The ladies raced over the same 8.4km circuit as the under 20 men and it was Joanne Lee who led the way in 11th place and in a field including several internationals this was no mean achievement. With Kirstie Anderson in 22nd and Helen Whitfield also in the top 50th the team’s 6th placed was just reward for 3 excellent runs.
The senior men’s event was hotly anticipated and in a quality line-up Olympian and ex-Tynedale athlete Nick McCormick could only finish 4th and just outside the medals. Club captain Andy Green did exceptionally with 45th place in such exalted company. Peter Hearn was well inside the top half of the large field in 128th although disappointingly the club were unable to finish a team.
The final race of the day brought three closely matched Tynedale athletes together in the under 17 men’s race. Fergus Robinson led the way in 10th as the wind swirled and with Ally Maxwell-Gray in 11th and Toby Routledge in 15th a team medal looked a possibility. When the results were confirmed the boys had indeed secured a hard-earned bronze medal.
The North East-counties Championships are the first significant championships of the season and a step-up from the harrier league but Tynedale’s athletes once again proved themselves up to the challenge. A fine series of performances across the race card brought just rewards and more than a few can look forward to donning the yellow vest and rainbow stripes of the north east counties come Birmingham in March.
Photo: Gold medal-winning Under 15 boys team with Sports Tynedale Coach of the Year Peter Venus