English National Cross-Country Championships, Herrington Park, Sunderland
See also Andy Green’s ‘Runner’s view’ of the day here
Saturday 23rd February 2013
For the first time since 2007 it was the turn of the north-east to host the national cross-country championships. A turn in the weather on race day made an already testing course at Herrington Park in Sunderland into an energy-sapping mud bath. Fifteen runners from Tynedale Harriers braved the elements and joined over 5000 entrants, including seasoned internationals alongside tomorrow’s champions, across the 10-race programme.
The days’ most notable performance from a Tynedale perspective came with a bitter twist. Young Max Pearson has made great progress this season in the Under 13 age group under the watchful eye of endurance coach Peter Venus and he started with high hopes. Always in contention he coped admirably with the toughest of conditions and even had enough left for his customary strong finish to cross the line in 7th place. The last junior from Tynedale Harriers to finish in such an exalted position was Hexham’s Nick McCormick in 1999 – in a race won by Mo Farah. Both of course went on to international and Olympic success. Max’s joy however was short-lived as he realised he had run without his electronic timing chip. With no back-up recording system in place his time and position did not register and his result did not stand. Packing well a little further down the 205-strong field were Ben Dykins in 156th, Charles Downs (157th) and Patrick Lally (181st).
A clearly disappointed Max has 2 further opportunities to make his presence felt on the national stage before the season’s end in March. In 2 weeks he travels to Birmingham where he leads the north east regional team in the inter-counties championships and the following week he heads a strong Tynedale Harriers contingent in the Northumberland county team at the English Schools Championships in the Derbyshire.
Among the Tynedale Harriers who will be joining Max in Derbyshire will be Jonny Currie and Fergus Robinson and both acquitted themselves well in their respective races at Sunderland. Fergus was 48th in the Under 15 boys’ race over 4km backed up by Jonny Anderson in 144th from a field of 223 finishers. Jonny Currie started the Under 17 6km race with a purpose but faded a little mid-race to finish in a still respectable 131st position. The Under 17 team has run well all season and is one of the strongest in the region so it was no surprise to see Jonny closely followed by Toby Routledge (164th), Ciaran Adamson (172nd) and Ali Maxwell-Gray (193rd).
After the excitement of the juniors, it was time for the senior men to take centre stage. One of the great spectacles of British sport is to see over 1000 athletes in a 200 yard wide, multicoloured cavalry charge, trying to get in a good position for the first corner. Five Tynedale stalwarts lined up with England’s best to slog around 3 laps and 7.5 miles of a course that was looking the worse for wear after the 9 preceding races! First overall, for the second year running, was Keith Gerrard from Newham and Essex Beagles in a close victory over 2nd placed Steve Vernon of Stockport Harriers. All the Tynedale runners performed admirably just to make progress across the rapidly deteriorating morass of a course. First home in an impressive position of 239th was Richard Parker in his debut at this event, followed 40 seconds later by Andy Green in 263rd. Phil Jameson, the youngster of the team, showed signs of returning to form with a solid 454th. Finally there was an epic battle for 4th counter in which Mike Little just beat Peter Hearn, finishing in 549th and 552nd places respectively.