Category Archives: Harrier League

The Harrier League races are big events for Striders and we usually have around 70-80 members who turn up to run, cheer on their club mates, or usually both! We gather together in the Striders’ tent underneath the purple Striders banner. All Striders are welcome as are their families, friends and well behaved dogs!

The league is over 100 years old so it’s well established and represents traditional, grass roots, competitive running at its best.

NEHL Lambton Estate Cross Country, Saturday, March 14, 2020

Nick Latham

Photo: Stuart Whitman Photography.

The 2019-20 cross country season saw its fair share of disruption. Lambton Estate was a new fixture this season but the first attempt was rained off and it was rescheduled to March.  Druridge Bay suffered the same fate and by the time Thornley Hall Farm came around in February there wasn’t an option to postpone it and it was cancelled.

Then, with the season heading towards its close, COVID-19 has put its oar in. Lambton wasn’t cancelled but it was reaching a point where individually people were starting to question whether they should be taking part. Men’s cross country Captain Stephen put out a message to the club encouraging everyone to judge participation individually and to be sensible about how we conduct ourselves. At that stage, it was a tricky balance between avoiding unnecessary risk and wanting to contribute and support the club. In the end I judged it reasonable for me to attend. Subsequently, the Harrier League organisers had to cancel the Druridge Bay re-run, so it turned out to be the last race of the season.

We went into the fixture with the mens team 3rd in the league, tied on points with second-placed Gateshead Harriers and 3 points behind Sunderland Harriers in first place. Blaydon Harriers were breathing down our necks just one point behind. We had an outside chance to win the league and a great opportunity to finish in second; we just needed a massive performance.

The women’s team started out equal fifth on points with North Shields Poly. They seemed secure in the league but Heaton and Elswick Harriers were poised within a few points to strike.

I’d picked up new member Tom Dutton and rising XC superstar Alex Mirley to give them a lift.  For once I arrived in time to see the start of the women’s race and there was a good section of the taped area taken up by Striders men cheering them on. Also for a change, I was well prepared and was quickly geared up and ready to go for a warm up, unlike my normal rush to get my number on before jogging to the start, which isn’t the best starting line experience.  I got to cheer on some of the women finishing, right up until the point that the slow pack got called up to the start.

Waiting for the start is always a nervous excitement. I haven’t been a counter for our team yet but I normally try to get to the front of the pack to at least give the other clubs someone they have to get around. And I reckon that extra couple of metres, that odd second, might just come in handy later.

The gun went off and away we charged towards the first turn and the stable block before hitting the tarmac estate road and starting the steep descent towards the river.  There were plenty of people in spikes opting for the grass verges but I’d decided on studs much earlier in the week and was confident in my choice.  There were a couple of brilliant steep drops at the bottom of the hill which took us to the riverside and onto the main track, where I was finally able to settle into a more sensible pace.  

Measuring it afterwards, the track was about 1,200m long until hitting the climb that we knew would come.  I’d settled quickly into a good pace alongside Peter Telford from DCH – we get on well, but there was no chat and both of us had our game faces on.  I could see Geoff Davies’ and Robin Parsons’ vests bobbing around in the pack not too far ahead and I had hopes that I might be able to at least keep them in sight.

I ran the first Lambton 10k back in 2014 and knew the hill back up would be steep and unpleasant and I wasn’t disappointed, with 30m of climb in about 300m. It never sounds as much in numbers as it feels at the time in the legs and lungs.  I was pleased to reach the top, though, feeling strong and able to keep up my pace while I recovered from the climb with others gasping around me.  I picked the easiest line around the field edge at the top to save my legs and we were quickly into the woods heading back to the entrance road. Once there, the tarmac / grass verge choice was only about 50 metres long before heading back into the trees and by far the wettest part of the course (apart from the river). Choosing the right line was critical to balance a longer detour against the strength-sapping mud of a direct route.  

The estate had also generously included a fallen tree to add to the decision-making – drier but longer to hurdle the low part, or straight line through (reasonably) deep water? The first time around I went for the detour and was amazed that the person in front virtually stopped to clamber over the tree – I planted my foot on the trunk and launched myself past him while he faffed.

Once off that ride, the paths dried a bit to vary between flat and firm to deeply claggy, but all still eminently runnable.  After a few twists and turns there was a short drop and we were passing through the gates into the castle grounds. No-one was stopping to admire the architecture from the front lawn, though, and in moments we were back onto the road and turning right into lap 2.

The arrangement of the field was great with the start and finish areas close to each other, which meant we had brilliant support. I was so focused on the race that I don’t remember everyone who was yelling encouragement, but I remember Joanne and Wendy, with Jan and Nina roaming the course as well.  Sorry to those I can’t remember but your shouts made a massive difference, they do every time.

The second descent was fast and uneventful but as I hit the track again I could see Geoff and Robin ahead – was I actually gaining on them?  I’d also realised that in between them and me I had Paul Swinburne’s vest as a closer target to aim for.  Perhaps this thought was too tempting as I overcooked the 2nd climb and went a bit too deep, taking longer than I would have liked to recover at the top.  Going back into the woods, I was more adventurous at the fallen tree, going for the middle option but also spotting some of the Medium / Fast pack runners overtaking on the straight line.

Round we went again and by the third visit to the long track, I realised I had fallen away from Geoff again.  I realised that I’d dropped Peter but I’m not sure where that was – perhaps the first climb, I wasn’t really paying attention, just running my own race.

I got the third climb just right, pushing as hard as I dared but able to recover normally at the top. I was gradually gaining on Paul and at the tree I took the direct (wet) line and came alongside him. My dreams of picking him off weren’t to be though, he started to lift his pace through the woods and I couldn’t match him from that far out.

There was no-one immediately behind me as I passed the castle (confirmed by a quick glance over my shoulder at the bend) and there was a good crowd in front so I knew I was aiming to pick up places in the finish rather than defend from behind. I hit the grass and put the hammer down, driven on by the encouraging shouts from the spectating Striders. I managed to pick up one place but the second was too strong and he held on.

In the end, I finished 6 seconds behind Paul Swinburne, 29 seconds down on Geoff and 35 on Robin, coming in 173 out of 325 and lowest scorer of the Striders D team.  I really felt as though I’d acquitted myself well, an improvement on previous XC races.  Even Jan Young said I was a cross country runner now!

We came second on the day and second overall for the season.  The women’s team managed an excellent 6th and maintained their place in the top division, an even better achievement because we only had 7 runners.  Fiona has already summarised some of the other great club results from the day but I wanted to add a couple of other observations. We fielded 5 male teams – 30 runners, the most of any club.  Gateshead Harriers didn’t manage a full team.  DCH had 7 runners and placed 9th.  Our B team would have placed 5th and every member of our D team (as well as B and C) impacted on DCH’s team score.  This truly is a team sport and all runners can have an impact on the result, even if you aren’t a “counter” for the A team.

NEHL Lambton Results http://www.harrierleague.com/results/2019-20/Lambton/

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Harrier League, Alnwick, Saturday, February 29, 2020

Grand Prix Race - click flag for current league tables. Mud King/Mud Queen Race - click flag for more information.

Results

men
PosNumNameRace TimePackCatActual Time
11504Samuel Charlton (Wallsend Harriers)40:58MMU2038:28
34499Georgie Hebdon47:42FMsen42:42
37530Michael Littlewood47:57MMV4545:27
44482Chris Callan48:19FMV4043:19
45516Lindsay Mcewan48:19SMV4548:19
49525Mark Warner48:31SMV4048:31
72526Matthew Archer49:24SMV3549:24
77501Graeme Watt49:36FMV4044:36
116507James Lee50:53MMV4048:23
171553Robin Parsons53:06SMV4053:06
178563Stuart Ord53:17FMsen48:17
180505Jack Lee53:22SMsen53:22
190498Geoff Davis53:45SMV6053:45
240527Matthew Carr57:08SMV4057:08
245487Daniel Mitchel57:41SMV4057:41
279503Ian Butler60:08SMV5560:08
292514Kevin Morson61:41SMsen61:41
307520Marc Watson63:35SMV4063:35
315556Shaun Roberts64:12SMV6064:12
343559Stephen Ellis74:17SMV6574:17
ladies
PosNumNameRace TimePackCatActual Time
11065Alex Hemsley (Wallsend Harriers)33:22SFsen33:22
20336Corrine Whaling37:34MFV3535:14
21327Anna Basu37:36MFV4535:16
37374Nina Mason38:34MFV4536:14
74339Elaine Bisson40:01FFV4035:01
85389Susan Davis40:15SFV6040:15
119373Natalie Bell41:20MFsen39:00
1351306Stef Barlow41:54SFV4541:54
177349Jan Young43:35SFV6543:35
192384Sarah Fawcett44:17SFV5544:17
215342Fiona Harrington-Hughes46:00SFV5046:00
237371Lucy Whelan47:31SFsen47:31
247348Jan Ellis49:03SFV5549:03
(Visited 21 times, 1 visits today)

Harrier League, Wrekenton, Saturday, September 28, 2019

Grand Prix Race - click flag for current league tables. Mud King/Mud Queen Race - click flag for more information.

Fionna Brannan

The first fixture of the 19/20 Harrier League season saw an impressive 68 Striders, old and new turn out for a sunny fixture at Wrekenton. Rain in the week meant that there were a few puddles around, but the weather on the day was kind – there were even complaints of it being too hot!

In the mens race, Captain Michael lead home with an excellent time, resulting in a promotion to the medium pack. Michael will be joined by Tom Hamilton, who ran a fantastic first fixture, also leading to a promotion. As usual, XC Captain Stephen ran a blinder, and is currently sitting in 4th position in the overall standings.

In the ladies race, Emma Thompson had a brilliant run, coming through from the fast pack and overtaking nearly 500 runners to finish first Strider home, followed shortly by XC Captain and coach Elaine, who was promoted into the fast pack.

On the day, the men finished in 5th place overall and the ladies 7th in what looks to be a very competitive season. The new tent performed admirably, and everyone put on their best singing voices to with Susan a Happy Birthday – well what else would Mudwoman do on her birthday?!

Photo Credit: Heather Raistrick

Results

men
PosNumNameRace TimePackCatActual Time
11504Samuel Charlton (Wallsend Harriers)30:57SMU2030:57
23530Michael Littlewood36:29SMV4036:29
36569Tom Hamilton37:00SMsen37:00
41560Stephen Jackson37:15FMV3532:15
68481Bryan Potts38:04SMV3538:04
80507James Lee38:23SMV4038:23
126499Georgie Hebdon39:18FMsen34:18
135477Allan Renwick39:30SMV5039:30
163531Michael Mason39:56FMV4034:56
185526Matthew Archer40:25SMV3540:25
208508Joe Finn40:42SMsen40:42
212501Graeme Watt40:45FMV4035:45
234506James Garland41:03MMV4038:33
251513Juan Corbacho41:25SMV3541:25
278516Lindsay Mcewan41:55SMV4541:55
291538Nik Corton42:08SMV5542:08
295563Stuart Ord42:13FMsen37:13
310498Geoff Davis42:28SMV6042:28
324561Stephen Soulsby42:45SMV5542:45
333485Conrad White43:03SMV6043:03
345500Graeme Walton43:12SMV4543:12
361553Robin Parsons43:35SMV4043:35
365509John Bisson43:41SMV4043:41
399473Aaron Gourley44:38SMV4044:38
437549Robert Allfree45:36SMV4545:36
447489Dave Halligan45:53SMV5545:53
466548Richard Hockin46:24SMV6546:24
467533Mike Bennett46:25SMV6546:25
488478Andrew Davies46:52SMV4046:52
489570Trevor Chaytor46:59SMV5546:59
501487Daniel Mitchel47:15SMV4047:15
532544Peter Hart48:18SMV4048:18
541503Ian Butler48:36SMV5548:36
559528Michael Dale49:13SMV4049:13
569556Shaun Roberts49:38SMV6049:38
585518Malcolm Sygrove50:24SMV5050:24
588520Marc Watson50:40SMV4050:40
611535Neil Garthwaite52:16SMV5052:16
641504Ian Jobling54:56SMV5054:56
647559Stephen Ellis55:46SMV6555:46
649474Adam Bent55:50SMV6555:50
women
PosNumNameRace TimePackCatActual Time
1671Katherine Davis (North Shields Poly)25:02SFV5025:02
25340Emma Thompson28:26FFV4025:26
38339Elaine Bisson28:57MFV4027:42
93376Rachael Bullock30:21SFsen30:21
99378Rachelle Mason30:34SFV4030:34
102374Nina Mason30:38MFV4529:23
104336Corrine Whaling30:41MFV3529:26
116363Katy Walton30:51MFV3529:36
129389Susan Davis31:00SFV5531:00
194350Jean Bradley32:17SFV6032:17
219365Laura Jennings32:48SFsen32:48
221366Lesley Charman32:49SFV4532:49
260386Stef Barlow33:33SFV4533:33
267373Natalie Bell33:39MFsen32:24
269332Camilla Lauren-Maatta33:41SFV5033:41
273351Jenny Search33:48SFV4033:48
286371Lucy Whelan33:56SFsen33:56
290388Sue Gardham33:58SFV4033:58
292345Heather Raistrick33:59SFV5533:59
297328Anna Mason34:04SFV4534:04
333398Zoe Dewdney-Parsons35:01SFV4035:01
363393Theresa Rugman Jones35:48SFV5035:48
378349Jan Young36:13SFV6536:13
385379Rebecca Blackwood36:24SFV3536:24
399380Rebecca Talbot37:16SFV4037:16
408355Joanne Patterson37:54SFV3537:54
422348Jan Ellis38:21SFV5538:21
424335Catherine Smith38:22SFV4038:22
460325Alison Smith43:09SFV4043:09
Under 17 girls and U20 women
PosNumNameRace TimePackCatActual Time
160Ines Curran (Gateshead Harriers)19:32SFU1719:32
4355Anna Jobling29:33SFU1729:33
(Visited 41 times, 1 visits today)

Harrier League, Alnwick, Saturday, March 2, 2019

Grand Prix Race - click flag for current league tables. Mud King/Mud Queen Race - click flag for more information.

photo credit: Zanna Clay
ladies
PosbibNameRace TimePackCatActual Time
1285Gina Howorth (Elswick Harriers)29:55SFV3529:55
21336Fiona Brannan33:14FFsen28:14
231276Susan Leight33:17SFV4533:17
63393Zanna Clay34:36SFsen34:36
72364Laura Jennings34:43SFsen34:43
100333Elaine Bisson35:08FFV4030:08
102360Katy Walton35:09MFV3532:29
150384Stef Barlow35:46SFV4535:46
1581132Corrine Whaling35:52MFV3533:12
162338Fiona Shenton35:55SFV5535:55
192374Rachael Bullock36:25MFsen33:45
198376Rachelle Mason36:34MFV4033:54
232378Roz Layton37:12SFV6537:12
247387Susan Davis37:25MFV5534:45
252370Natalie Bell37:27MFsen34:47
257383Sarah Fawcett37:33SFV5537:33
260346Jan Young37:38SFV6537:38
262391Victoria Jackson37:39SFV3537:39
311322Ashley Price-Sabate39:00SFV5039:00
343380Sam Askey40:36SFV4040:36
359394Zoe DewdneyElvet Striders 41:12SFV35 41:12
378345Jan Ellis42:36SFV5542:36
396316Alison Smith44:17SFV4044:17
photo credit: James Lee
men
PosbibNameRace TimePackCatActual Time
1208Joseph Woods (Blyth RC)36:31SMsen36:31
11504Stephen Jackson40:23FMV3535:23
47506Stuart Ord42:03MMsen39:33
66498Rory Whaling42:25SMV4542:25
92476Michael Littlewood42:54MMV4040:24
147429Allan Renwick43:44SMV4543:44
171452Georgie Hebdon44:14FMsen39:14
186507Stuart Scott44:26MMV3541:56
191453Graeme Watt44:31FMV4039:31
2381597James Lee45:12MMV4042:42
303436Conrad White46:34SMV6046:34
308451Geoff Davis46:47SMV6046:47
312442David Gibson46:56SMV5046:56
3261733Robin Parsons47:25SMV3547:25
328425Aaron Gourley47:26SMV4047:26
373479Mike Bennett49:06SMV6049:06
386493Richard Hockin49:27SMV6549:27
394469Mark Payne49:50SMV3549:50
406501Simon Dobson50:25SMV4550:25
409473Matthew Carr50:32SMV4050:32
420459Jonathan Hamill50:50SMV4050:50
481463Lindsay Rodgers54:14SMV5054:14
485509Tim Matthews54:24SMV5554:24
491460Jordi Sabate Villaret54:45SMV5054:45
495511Trevor Chaytor55:05SMV5555:05
499435Chris Shearsmith55:37SMV4055:37
5281675Adam Bent61:15SMV6061:15
534503Stephen Ellis62:49SMV6562:49
(Visited 52 times, 1 visits today)

Harrier League, Thornley Hall Farm, Saturday, February 9, 2019

Grand Prix Race - click flag for current league tables. Mud King/Mud Queen Race - click flag for more information.

results

ladies

posbibNameRace TimePackCatActual Time
11258Stephanie Lawrie (Victoria Park Glasgow)27:42SFsen27:42
14336Fiona Brannan32:55FFsen27:55
17388Susan Scott33:18SFV4033:18
221132Corrine Whaling33:36SFV3533:36
27335Emma Thompson33:47FFV3528:47
311276Susan Leight33:57SFV4533:57
54390Tricia Everett34:44MFV3532:04
69389Tasmin Imber35:11SFV4035:11
82333Elaine Bisson35:33FFV4030:33
107372Nina Mason36:02MFV4033:22
117382Sarah Davies36:13MFV5033:33
130360Katy Walton36:33MFV3533:53
142370Natalie Bell36:55MFsen34:15
169374Rachael Bullock37:58MFsen35:18
174346Jan Young38:06SFV6538:06
192383Sarah Fawcett38:49SFV5538:49
193391Victoria Jackson38:49SFV3538:49

men

posbibNameRace TimePackCatActual Time
11807Adam Pratt (Morpeth Harriers & AC)35:21SMsen35:21
10506Stuart Ord39:10SMsen39:10
20499Sam Renwick40:28SMsen40:28
27453Graeme Watt40:48MMV4038:18
37456James Garland41:15SMV4041:15
60483Paul Evans41:59SMV3541:59
75472Matthew Archer42:15SMV3542:15
147476Michael Littlewood43:30MMV4041:00
154478Mike Barlow43:33SMV4543:33
162429Allan Renwick43:40SMV4543:40
168498Rory Whaling43:47SMV4543:47
192439Danny Lim44:12SMV3544:12
2071852Mark Griffiths44:30MMV4042:00
258485Paul Swinburne46:05SMV4046:05
260507Stuart Scott46:06MMV3543:36
2631733Robin Parsons46:12SMV3546:12
267442David Gibson46:21SMV5046:21
270436Conrad White46:26SMV6046:26
330440Dave Halligan48:55SMV5548:55
331479Mike Bennett48:58SMV6048:58
351493Richard Hockin50:03SMV6550:03
359473Matthew Carr50:30SMV4050:30
387501Simon Dobson51:35SMV4551:35
412511Trevor Chaytor53:28SMV5553:28
4181599Neil Garthwaite53:51SMV4553:51
419475Michael Hughes53:55SMV5053:55
465503Stephen Ellis69:36SMV6569:36
(Visited 48 times, 1 visits today)

Observations of an Accidental Cross Country Runner, Druridge Bay & Aykley Heads, Saturday, November 17, 2018

Grand Prix Race - click flag for current league tables. Mud King/Mud Queen Race - click flag for more information.

Ian Butler

Not holding hands, but a rolling road block of StridersMany years ago, when I got sent to jail, I didn’t take it at all well. I refused all offers of food and drink, spat and swore at anyone who came near me and burst into tears. That was the last time that I ever played Monopoly with my big sister!

I have always had a very competitive streak, and whilst resorting to tears to gain a win at Monopoly may have shown determination as an 8-year-old, that positive approach to push my self to try and win has stayed with me all my life.

I don’t generally burst into tears now, as a tactic to be used to achieve sporting success, as a general lack of sporting talent and advancing age puts a stop to my unrealistic ambitions. However. I do like to push myself and try new things and the latest outlet for my competitiveness is unbelievably cross-country running and the Harrier league.

For those of you unfamiliar with this pastime, it involves men and women congregating in a wet field in the middle of winter, donning a thin vest with the club name on it, and then running around a series of hills and bogs lined with tape before crossing a finishing line. Some of the more sadistic courses have more mud than others, have heavy rain and gale force winds organised for the day, and include a stream to jump over where crowds of spectators gather to watch some poor runner go headfirst into the mucky bilge. I have it on good authority that next year the powers that be are considering introducing an obstacle to cross while under fire from a machine gun or water cannon.

The basics of the races are that they are divided into men and women’s races. Each race is handicapped, with 3 groups setting off at timed intervals.

The first group off are the normal people or slow group, to go by the official title. Why it’s called the slow group I’m not sure, as looking at the field it seems to have everyone from the carthorses, like me, who plough their way around, to some super fast individuals who run around like whippets. The second group, known as the Middle group, set off a couple of minutes later and in hot pursuit of the slow group. The final group, known as the fast group, consisting of stick thin prime athletes, then set off 2 minutes later in very hot pursuit of the leading groups.

The idea I think is that the handicap system should create a leveller playing field for all, with clubs scoring points by getting their first 4 athletes over the finish line, whilst those, not scoring points are there to generally get in the way of others.

Personally, I think the handicap system should change, as my experience is the fast ones seem to steam past me as if I’m stood still, usually on the first lap of three. My recommendation would be that the middle and fast groups should have to carry weighted rusk sacks and an assault rifle. That would be a fair approach in my view, and at least give me more of a chance of helping out the team.

Previously, I had not run in the harrier league owing to work commitments, plus I was a wuss on wobbly ground from a couple of dodgy ankles caused when I was testing out a pair of Addidas Bambers many years ago. Therefore, when I heard about the cross-country league I decided that I would give it a go, but that I needed both the kit to run securely over rough ground and some guidance from the experts.

The Kit

The kit is basic from what I can tell. All you need is a club vest, (which must be worn during the race) and a pair of simple running shoes designed to disperse and give you grip on mud, water and slime.

The shoes can be picked up quite cheaply from running shops. My pair of cheapo shoes has really given me confidence in mud running, but I still have to look down and really concentrate on the 2 meters in front of me as to where I put my feet.

The Training

I needed to get confidence on the ups and downs of hills and rough ground, and so this year I joined the Monday lunch training sessions presided over by Geoff and Elaine. These sessions I found massively helpful.

Fig 1 – Receiving advice on my race start

The training group tends to consist of like-minded victims, who are generally directed by the Professors of Cross Country to run up or down a hill (Or both) in a set time or for a set distance, in order to gain fitness and improve skill levels on rough ground. Top tips on how to do this without breaking your neck are also freely given. Generally, these sessions turn me into a gastropod, huffing along and giving me a sweaty and slimy stinky sheen.

However, the advice is brilliant, and the benefits are massive, and I have certainly gained benefit from these periods of torture.

The Venues

So far I have done 2 events, Druridge Bay and Aykley Heads.

The experience at both is similar.

On arrival, the first job is to tackle the maze known as the club village and find the club tent. This tented community is a bit like a disorganised scout camp, where you need a compass, map and detailed grid coordinates to find your club abode. Usefully, all the tents look the same, but luckily each club proudly displays their club flag for all to see, so after wondering around for half an hour, you will find the home of Elvet Striders and familiar faces.

Considering that up to 50 plus Striders may attend these races, and use the tent to shelter from the rain and to change into their kit, then the 10ft by 10ft space is no Dr Who Tardis. However, there is room to take your tracky bottoms off and pin your race number to your vest, so it serves a valuable purpose.

Race Tactics

I think I heard Geoff Davis once say in his best Churchillian accent, ‘I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat’.

I understand he may also have said the following, ‘ We shall go on to the end. We shall run at Wrenkenton, we shall run at Druridge Bay and Aykley Heads, we shall run with growing confidence and growing strength on the hills and across the streams, we will never surrender’.

So, its very clear to all that there is club pride at stake in our participation in the Harrier League, and that the individual participation is for the greater good of the team and the club. That is one of the great things about Cross Country.

Whether you are the faster or slower runner, what struck me is that this is a team game, with strong support for the runners in each race by fellow Striders, both running or spectating. Therefore, the encouragement is there to push yourself and execute your best race.

I have asked several people about tactics to race execution and the basic top tips I got were: –

  1. At the start, get to the front of the group in order to get a clean break rather than getting bogged down in the crowd. That way, you are ahead and other runners then have to make up ground to pass you.
  2. On a 3 lap race, if you can’t do a reconnaissance and run the route beforehand, then on lap one suss out the lie of the land, but don’t compromise your pace to achieve this. Then once the ground is known, really put in some effort.
  3. If you are a slower runner, your contribution is still valuable for generally getting in the way and in pushing down the position of other teams runners, so don’t give up.
  4. Do not get involved with other clubs runners with any pushing or shoving, cause an Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm, or use any Threatening Words or Behaviour likely to cause Harassment, Alarm or Distress to fellow competitors or spectators. Whilst such a demonstration in the heat of the moment may make you feel better about the sod that just cut you up, in the long term you are likely to be disqualified. Basically, don’t get involved in any ‘Argy Bargy’ and save energy for the race. You can always nip into the car park after the race and let down the car tyres of your chief protagonist.
  5. Keep going to the end, and in the finishing straight try and pass others, and don’t whatever you do allow yourself to be overtaken.
Race Execution
1) Druridge Bay

Standing at the start of my first cross country at Duridge Bay, with my competitive juices boiling, I turned around and found a right Bounder stood next to me. A Blackhill Bounder to be precise by the name of Alex.

Alex is a 20-year-old young whippersnapper. I’m a much much older chap. I used to be his boss at work, and during our conversations about important things, like ‘what did you have for your tea last night?” and ‘what did you do at the weekend?’, it became clear that we had some common ground. We both had done some triathlons, run similar races and followed sports in general, plus we knew many common acquaintances and generally got on well. The only problem was that he was under the great misconception that by virtue of my age that I was some sort of sporting guru and athlete, rather than a bit of an incompetent sporting dabbler.

With that in mind, personal pride was at stake and it was clear that I simply had to beat him around the course.

At Druridge Bay, the ground was quite solid, so as predicted I set off far too fast because I never learn, and because the slow pack is not slow enough, and so I got pulled along with the group. I said to my self, ‘YOU IDIOT’, but I ran the first lap quite well and was able to stick with the pace and determine the lie of the land.

I was also conscious that I was ahead of ‘Whippersnapper ‘, but I was not prepared to turn around and see how far ahead I was, so into the second lap I dug in and started to make some ground on others in the slow group. At the same time, several high-speed medium and fast pack runners passed me in a blur, making me feel great.

Six miles is a good distance for me, as through racing I now know I can keep a decent pace going, and even push on a bit towards the end. On entering the third lap I felt quite good and began to make ground on a couple of others, but there was a group of 3 or 4 runners who I just could not catch. As I accelerated, a little so did they and I simply could not close that 20 to 25-metre gap. However, I was spurred on and remembered the rules I had been told, namely don’t get overtaken, and don’t give up, despite the pain.

By some miracle, as we moved into the last 400m I found myself making ground on the 3 others directly ahead, and as I moved into the final straight I saw that I was closing rapidly. I then sprinted (not really) the last 20 meters, pulled an effort making face, and just as we reached the line they each slowed down allowing me to pass them just before the finish line and take the win in a loud grunting and gasping shout.

Fig 2 – Crossing the line at Druridge Bay

Take it easy and steady-on there lad!’ shouted the man with a clipboard at the finish. I’d got them on the line as directed to do so, and the man called me a lad, so I was happy. Additionally, I had beaten the Whippersnapper.

My competitive juices were well and truly oiled and I looked forward to my next test at Aykley Heads.

2) Aykley Heads

I know the lie of the land very well here, and that was the problem. I know it can be a complete ‘b_ _ _ _ _ _ d of a route, with many ups and downs, grassy molehills, mud and general rough terrain. Therefore, it is a great lung bursting challenge and not one to be missed!!

I followed race tactics as planned, namely, I again went off too fast, but was able to keep a steady pace going. even on the undulating sections after the first mile or so. However, I was very unsure going downhill, on rough ground and my natural instinct to hold back to protect my ankles certainly slowed me down. Unlike others, I simply did not trust my ability and speed downhill; hence I was overtaken on the down sections, whereas on paved surfaces I have much more confidence with speed.

This was really the story of laps 1 and 2 for me.

The most notable aspect of the race was the support given by the marshals and spectators to Striders as we ran around the circuits. It was truly inspiring to have that support. Shouts of ‘Well done Striders’ or ‘Come on Striders’ were heard around the whole course, In addition, shouts of ‘you’re looking good Striders’, although descriptive, certainly did not tell the story of how I felt at the time.

The most curious shout came on the third lap. By this time I was wondering what the heck I was doing here on a Saturday afternoon. But by this time all the faster runners had passed, and I was in a sort of bubble of other similar runners who had gone around together and kind of formed a brotherhood in adversity. This group included a bald-headed bloke in a luminous vest, a Red Kite Runner, and a chap in a red-hooped vest who looked like a bumblebee. In support, I found my self-running alongside fellow Strider Daniel Mitchel and we kind of kept each other supported as we dragged over the undulating sections.

As we ran downhill side by side, a helpful Strider marshal shouted ‘ Stop holding hands and get on with it’. Little did this fellow know that we had applied race tactics and formed a Strider running rolling roadblock, aimed at preventing others from passing, and threatening our faster teammates ahead. This tactic actually worked and kept others at bay for quite a long time until the final leg uphill leg along the railway line.

Then it was an uphill slog over the hill and down through the woods to the final ascent of the finishing climb, which I managed to plod up. Once on top of the hill and on the flat I saw a few of our bubble of runners ahead and somehow managed to overtake them. As I entered the finishing straight, I was really conscious of someone on my inside trying to pass, but I managed to put in a real spurt and hold them off over the finishing line. I felt that I had won the Olympics, and not come in 421st out of 570 finishers.

It’s fair to say that Cross County has met my competitive urges. It’s certainly better than playing Monopoly and running the risk of being sent to jail.

(Visited 285 times, 1 visits today)

Harrier League, Gosforth Park, Saturday, October 27, 2018

Grand Prix Race - click flag for current league tables. Mud King/Mud Queen Race - click flag for more information.

Results

men

PosbibNameRace TimePackCatActual Time
1852Matthew Briggs (Morpeth Harriers & AC)34:18SMU2034:18
24452Georgie Hebdon37:50MMsen35:20
64504Stephen Jackson39:07FMV3534:07
68483Paul Evans39:10SMV3539:10
76453Graeme Watt39:20MMV4036:50
78506Stuart Ord39:25SMsen39:25
96456James Garland39:39SMV4039:39
100472Matthew Archer39:43SMV3539:43
154480Neil Sleeman40:28SMV4040:28
161507Stuart Scott40:32MMV3538:02
180434Chris Callan40:43FMV3535:43
241429Allan Renwick41:31SMV4541:31
247470Mark Warner41:36MMV3539:06
274467Mark Griffiths41:59MMV4039:29
305451Geoff Davis42:31SMV6042:31
324455Jack Lee42:54MMsen40:24
326461Juan Corbacho42:55SMV3542:55
355436Conrad White43:29SMV6043:29
414444David Lumsdon45:09SMV5045:09
415442David Gibson45:11SMV5045:11
438501Simon Dobson45:53SMV4545:53
474430Andrew Davies46:46SMV4046:46
479479Mike Bennett46:57SMV6046:57
481445David Oxlade46:59SMsen46:59
486481Nick Latham47:08SMV4547:08
4961596Graeme Walton47:29SMV4547:29
500460Jordi SabateStriders47:37SMV50 47:37
501493Richard Hockin47:39SMV6547:39
533509Tim Matthews49:21SMV5549:21
541511Trevor Chaytor49:43SMV5549:43
546486Pavlos Farangitakis49:52SMsen49:52
552466Mark Foster50:09SMV4050:09
586490Peter Mcgowan52:25SMV5552:25

ladies

PosbibNameRace TimePackCatActual Time
11024Danielle Hodgkinson (Wallsend Harriers)26:06MFsen23:36
23382Sarah Davies30:23SFV5030:23
65319Anna Basu31:34MFV4529:04
67371Nelli Bala31:34SFsen31:34
82372Nina Mason31:53SFV4031:53
102360Katy Walton32:22MFV3529:52
131337Fiona Jones32:48MFV4030:18
163338Fiona Shenton33:24SFV5533:24
173320Anna Mason33:34SFV4533:34
1831132Corrine Whaling33:49SFV3533:49
184370Natalie Bell33:50MFsen31:20
211384Stef Barlow34:14SFV4534:14
2291169Emma Lecavalier34:31SFsen34:31
231348Jenny Search34:33SFV4034:33
262317Angela Dixon35:11SFV4035:11
273377Rebecca Talbot35:49SFV4035:49
306346Jan Young36:37SFV6536:37
330380Sam Askey37:23SFV4037:23
331391Victoria Jackson37:24SFV3537:24
366350Joanne Patterson38:28SFV3538:28
417316Alison Smith41:32SFV4041:32

(Visited 62 times, 1 visits today)

Harrier League, Druridge Bay, Sunday, October 7, 2018

Grand Prix Race - click flag for current league tables. Mud King/Mud Queen Race - click flag for more information.

Ladies group photo by Lisa Evette Lumsdon

Ladies

posbibnamerace timepackcatactual time
11024Danielle Hodgkinson (Wallsend Harriers)23:49SFsen23:49
20370Natalie Bell31:01SFsen31:01
48336Fiona Brannan31:40FFsen26:35
52319Anna Basu31:48MFV4529:08
55372Nina Mason31:53SFV4031:53
96360Katy Walton32:51MFV3530:11
144384Stef Barlow33:53SFV4533:53
155359Kathryn Sygrove34:19SFV5034:19
177324Camilla Lauren-Maatta34:58SFV5034:58
217346Jan Young36:04SFV6536:04
228315Aileen Scott36:24SFV4536:24
2301131Carolyn Galula36:26SFV4536:26
293331Danielle Glassey39:28SFsen39:28
328316Alison Smith42:01SFV4042:01

Men

photo by Aileen Scott

PosbibNameRace TimePackCatActual Time
1362Luke Pickering (Durham City Harriers)34:02SMU2034:02
18491Phil Ray37:29SMV3537:29
92456James Garland39:43SMV4039:43
100468Mark Kearney39:57MMV3537:27
120453Graeme Watt40:21MMV4037:51
207507Stuart Scott41:32MMV3539:02
264455Jack Lee42:34MMsen40:04
275451Geoff Davis42:43SMV6042:43
363444David Lumsdon45:06SMV5045:06
3671597James Lee45:12MMV4042:42
370501Simon Dobson45:22SMV4545:22
383454Ian Butler45:43SMV5545:43
391442David Gibson45:57SMV5045:57
404469Mark Payne46:19SMV3546:19
436430Andrew Davies47:25SMV4047:25
498490Peter Mcgowan50:30SMV5550:30
505427Alan Scott51:05SMV5051:05
506509Tim Matthews51:11SMV5551:11
5141599Neil Garthwaite51:34SMV4551:34
518447Dougie Nisbet51:49SMV5551:49
534503Stephen Ellis53:14SMV6553:14

(Visited 214 times, 1 visits today)

Harrier League (Results), Wrekenton, Saturday, September 29, 2018

Grand Prix Race - click flag for current league tables. Mud King/Mud Queen Race - click flag for more information.

Results

Ladies
PosbibNameRace TimePackCatActual Time
11013Lisa Tang
(Tynedale Harriers)
25:51SFsen25:51
34360Katy Walton29:45SFV3529:45
55336Fiona Brannan30:25FFsen25:25
65382Sarah Davies30:36SFV5030:36
73372Nina Mason30:52SFV4030:52
94319Anna Basu31:25MFV4528:45
110370Natalie Bell31:57SFsen31:57
157381Stef Barlow33:02SFV4533:02
191321Anna Seeley33:42SFV3533:42
205320Anna Mason33:54SFV4533:54
206317Angela Dixon33:55SFV4033:55
211348Jenny Search34:01SFV4034:01
225383Sarah Fawcett34:28SFV5534:28
238376Rachelle Mason34:45MFV4032:05
261391Victoria Jackson35:36SFV3535:36
272346Jan Young35:49SFV6535:49
329380Sam Askey37:35SFV4037:35
426339Fiona Wood43:24SFV3543:24
Men
PosbibNameRace TimePackCatActual Time
1349Dan Garbutt
(Durham City Harriers)
31:58SMsen31:58
21452Georgie Hebdon36:11SMsen36:11
26453Graeme Watt36:38SMV4036:38
50477Michael Mason37:36MMV4035:06
70506Stuart Ord38:07SMsen38:07
95498Rory Whaling38:42SMV4538:42
102468Mark Kearney38:48MMV3536:18
116456James Garland39:07SMV4039:07
119476Michael Littlewood39:11MMV4036:41
155434Chris Callan39:52FMV3534:52
217507Stuart Scott41:05MMV3538:35
238429Allan Renwick41:25SMV4541:25
260478Mike Barlow41:59SMV4541:59
298508Thom Milburn42:46MMsen40:16
312461Juan Corbacho43:08SMV3543:08
318510Timothy Skelton43:14SMV3543:14
359479Mike Bennett44:16SMV6044:16
362495Robert Allfree44:18SMV4044:18
391501Simon Dobson45:25SMV4545:25
404488Peter Hart45:56SMV4045:56
411481Nick Latham46:06SMV4546:06
418441David Browbank46:19SMV3546:19
420459Jonathan Hamill46:22SMV4046:22
444475Michael Hughes47:16SMV5047:16
446448Douglas Jardine47:19SMV4047:19
449511Trevor Chaytor47:25SMV5547:25
463442David Gibson48:19SMV5048:19
515487Peter Bell50:30SMV4550:30
521447Dougie Nisbet50:47SMV5550:47
525490Peter Mcgowan50:57SMV5550:57
550503Stephen Ellis52:37SMV6552:37
(Visited 231 times, 1 visits today)

Harrier League, Wrekenton, Saturday, September 29, 2018

Grand Prix Race - click flag for current league tables. Mud King/Mud Queen Race - click flag for more information.

Nick Latham

Right – smiling for the camera, getting a decent race photoI emptied the tank today. Clean up your minds, you mucky lot, all I mean is I raced as hard as I could. But that was what was going through my mind as I reflected on the first XC race of the season, and it left me thinking what else I did right and what I did wrong.

Wrong – setting off late and hitting bad traffic
Wrong – not queueing for the portaloo’s portable toilets as soon as I arrived
Right – collecting my number and selecting shoes as soon as I reached the club tent
Wrong – missing the team photo by being in the queue for the portaloo’s portable toilets
Wrong – not having time to recce the course or warm up as long as I’d have liked

Right – not letting any of this bother me when I got on the start line

Right – elbows out, right at the front of the slow pack on the start line
Right – (if you ask Geoff, anyway) starting fast, holding on as long as possible
Right – measuring my effort, easing my pace on the ups (walking when I needed) and making up ground on the downs, keeping my heart rate up over 90%max
Right – keeping close to Peter Hart for almost the whole race, at least until the last half lap

Right – smiling for the camera, getting a decent race photo
Wrong – I always manage to make it look like I’m not trying by smiling at the camera, but I don’t tend to go pink and sweaty. I clearly need to work on my ‘race agony’ face

Right – not making the fashion mistake of the bloke whose sagging tracksters left a rather unfortunate vision in front of me for a lot of the race
Right – using whatever I had left on the finishing straight to try to reel in the two ahead of me. Didn’t work this time, but kept those behind me…behind me.
Right – not collapsing in a heap in the finish funnel

Right – choosing the lemon drizzle cake – whoever made it, thank you, it was wonderful!
Right – staying back to help Mike and Fiona pack up the banners and tent

Into the RedIt goes to prove that even if you start off on the wrong foot, if you can put any mistakes out of your mind you can still make a good race out of what could turn into a disaster.

And that gives you a chance to empty the tank…so to speak.

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