Harrier League: Thornley Hall Farm 2017, Thornley Hall Farm, Saturday, February 11, 2017

Joanne Patterson

So the day had arrived.  I had been awake most of the night listening to the rain lashing off the windows and dreading the fact that I had to face my demons and have my second try at this NEHL fixture.  My first attempt at it (in fact, my first attempt at XC since I was at school) hadn’t gone great.  As is probably common knowledge by now, I got too carried away and had a nasty fall around 100m from the finish, and so didn’t get to cross the finish line.

I had arranged to travel to Thornley with Tamsin, she picked me up early and we agreed that we must be mad.  It rained the entire journey.  Pictures were being posted on Facebook of the mud and the conditions, which did nothing to calm the nerves and dread.

We arrived at the farm and it was immediately obvious that this was going to be tough.  Everywhere you looked there was mud.  Nowhere near as much grass as I remembered from the first time.

I hunted out the Striders tent and a few of us huddled inside to keep warm.  The tent filled up, the chattering and laughing started, and I didn’t feel quite as nervous.  Knowing that even you seasoned XC pros were dreading it just as much as me, really helped!  I popped out with Kerry and Catherine to cheer on the U11’s, so we could see future Strider Lewis Littlewood having a really good run.  Lots of U13s passed in the next race, minus one or both trainers in some cases – Christ.  I was going to lose my new trainers wasn’t I?  Another thing to worry about!  Shortly after that we headed back to the tent to take off our multiple layers of warm clothing ready for battle.  A few team photo’s (in the warmth of the tent) and we heard the call for the ladies to line up!

We all huddled together (with hardcore vest-wearing Lesley in the centre of the huddle) to try and keep warm, as the rain turned to sleet and we were told there was a 15 minute delay.

This soon passed, and the gun went off.  The first part of the race seems to pass in a blur.  Lots of fast ladies passing me, but I felt I was holding my own in my part of the pack.  Off the grass and through the biggest, icy cold puddle I have ever experienced – wow that was actually fun.  The first hill was slippy slidy mud – I tried to run up it the best way I could, but I don’t think you could describe it as running.  I hear cries of “I can’t do this” from other runners and I immediately feel in good company!  There was literally no avoiding any of the mud or puddles, and I just ended up embracing it, with my main worry being to stay upright.  It was horrible.  It was hard.  My feet were so heavy, the hail bounced off my face like someone had just thrown stones at me.  I can’t do this.  It’s too hard, it’s not for me.  I won’t make a difference – all the faster ladies are way ahead – they make the difference for us.  Not long after these thoughts, I see 2 purple vests holding up an injured Mandy.  Oh no somebody is hurt.  Oh no they’re some of our fast ladies.  She seems really hurt.  I should stop and help.  No Joanne, she has help, she will be ok.  But if I help, I won’t need to run anymore.  But we have potentially lost 3 ladies.  You need to run, you need to do all that you can for the team.  So I keep running.

Massive huge hill.  Jan Ellis has placed herself perfectly in the middle of the hill.  You can’t stop now, she will see you.  You can get up the hill.  I imagine Jon Ayres shouting at me about my arms, and I get up the hill with Jan’s support ringing in my ears.  Wow that was hard.  I think I am going to die – oh great, look here’s Phil and Di with a camera….I carry on steadily, always worrying about falling – I will look like such an idiot if I fall again.  My favourite part of the whole course, is the downhill bit which leads upto the hill next to all the tents – for some reason, I really like that hill.  I take at least 2 ladies with the men shouting support as I went.  I think I may have sworn halfway up, but I didn’t stop.  Crap.  I have to do that whole thing AGAIN?!  For all my mile times on my garmin were a lot slower, it felt like the second lap went so much faster.  I was back around to my favourite part again in no time, met by more male Strider support, plus some comment from Jon about my arms (supportive I’m sure).  I didn’t look over, I just put everything I had into that last hill and passed another 2 ladies (who I think promptly took their places back on the downhill but still…).  Running along that last bit to the finish seemed to take forever, but shout outs from the already finished ladies kept me going.  I have never felt anything like crossing that finish line and stopping my garmin (which for the first time ever I could not have cared less what the numbers were).  I did it.  I blooming did it.  And I wasn’t last!

Now, where are those brownies?

I never understood the love/hate thing that people have for XC until now.  I can’t wait for Alnwick.

Results

men
posbibnamecatpackrace timeactual time
1401Dan Jenkin (DCH)MsenF43:5038:50
27551Scott WatsonMV50S47:0247:02
29546Phil RayMV35S47:0647:06
30556Stephen JacksonMsenF47:1242:12
38533Matt ClaydonMV40S47:3447:34
49521Jason HardingMV45M48:1045:40
85534Matthew ArcherMV35S49:3149:31
99536Michael LittlewoodMV40M49:5147:21
101500Danny LimMV35S49:5549:55
134507David GibsonMV45S50:5050:50
146520James GarlandMV40S51:2151:21
149514Gareth PritchardMV35F51:2746:27
216532Mark WarnerMV35M54:0351:33
239535Michael HughesMV45S55:0055:00
258525Jon AyresMV40S55:5155:51
265501Dave HalliganMV50S56:2356:23
284499Daniel MitchelMV35S57:5157:51
305549Richard HockinMV60S59:4659:46
331529Malcolm SygroveMV50S62:3962:39
341561Tim MatthewsMV50S63:4463:44
356528Lindsay RodgersMV45S66:0766:07
365544Peter HartMV35S69:0769:07
366504David BrowbankMV35S69:0969:09

369 finishers.

women
posbibnamecatpackrace timeactual time
1613Emma Holt (Morpeth Harriers & AC)FsenF31:1527:55
22416Olivia NealFsenM36:3234:52
48418Rachael BullockFsenM37:3835:58
56432Tasmin ImberFV40F37:4534:25
66419Rachelle MasonFV35S38:0338:03
91428Stephanie PiperFsenS39:0339:03
97391Juliet PercivalFV40M39:4338:03
118407Lesley CharmanFV40S40:4840:48
124433Victoria BrownFV35S41:1141:11
128415Nina MasonFV40S41:2841:28
141406Laura JenningsFsenS42:0642:06
146382Jan YoungFV60S42:3442:34
174434Victoria JacksonFV35S44:1944:19
2051120Joanne PattersonFsenS49:0549:05
235402Kerry BarnettFV40S55:5555:55
238401Kelly CollierFsenS57:3257:32

245 finishers.

 

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