Tag Archives: Harrier League: Aykley Heads

Important information for 2017 event

Race Parking is at Durham County Hall car park only. It’s free and only 400m from the start – please do not park anywhere else, please do not try to park closer to the course as you will be charged, or worse, and we could lose this venue! There will be plenty of parking for everybody at County Hall but please car share. THERE IS RESTRICTED USE OF ONE SECTION OF THE CAR PARK THIS YEAR – ONLY THOSE INTENDING TO LEAVE BY 2.30PM MAY USE THIS SECTION SO PLEASE OBEY THE CAR PARK MARSHALS!

There is no parking in the DLI car park this year.

Officials Parking This will be on the tennis courts adjacent to the new Police HQ. Go north from the County Hall roundabout on the B.6532, turn right at the next roundabout, straight over at the next roundabout & then follow the signs.

Tent drop off We have a tent drop off point adjacent to the course. Go north from the County Hall roundabout on the B.6532, turn right at the next roundabout, straight over at the next roundabout & then follow the signs. Only use this if your tent is very heavy! There is absolutely no parking for competitors here and it is not a drop off point for latecomers. Tents must be left with the tent drop off marshals and competitors return to County Hall to park.

Registration is adjacent to the course in the tented area (look out for Vicki’s big blue tent) – unless the weather is very bad and then it will be in County Hall reception area (Micky Baker to confirm).
Toilets are located in County Hall foyer and there will be portable toilets close to the race start area.

Do not enter County Hall in muddy shoes – they won’t let us come back next year if you do!

The course is walking distance from County Hall car park (follow the signs) & is on the former Durham Constabulary playing fields.

Directions to County Hall (postcode: DH1 5TP)

County Hall is a major landmark in Durham and many of you will already know where it is and how to get there. There are frequent trains to Durham from Newcastle and Darlington. The station is around half a map (pdf) please use public transport where possible!

If you must come by car then directions are as follows (please note that due to the Lumiere festival of light taking place in the city there may be traffic restrictions in place including eastbound lane closures on Millburngate Bridge.


Travelling south (e.g. from Newcastle):

Use the A.1m and turn off at Junction 62 (signposted for Durham & Sunderland). At the top of the slip road turn right at the roundabout joining the A.690 into Durham. At the next roundabout (where the dual carriageway ends) stay on the A.690 & follow signs to City Centre & Consett (straight over). At the next roundabout stay on the A.690 & follow signs for Crook, Consett & County Hall (straight over – but get in the outside lane). At the next traffic lights turn right signposted for Consett, Chester-Le- St & County Hall. Turn right at the next roundabout into County Hall – you’ve arrived!

Travelling north (e.g. from Darlington):
Use the A.1m and turn off at Junction 62 (signposted for Durham & Sunderland). At the top of the slip road turn left at the roundabout joining the A.690 into Durham. At the next roundabout (where the dual carriageway ends) stay on the A.690 & follow signs to City Centre & Consett (straight over). At the next roundabout stay on the A.690 & follow signs for Crook, Consett & County Hall (straight over – but get in the outside lane). At the next traffic lights turn right signposted for Consett, Chester-Le- St & County Hall. Turn right at the next roundabout into County Hall – you’ve arrived!

Travelling west (e.g. from Sunderland):
Use the A.690 from Sunderland or from the A.19 for Durham. At the junction of the A.690 and A.1m go straight over staying on the A.690 into Durham. At the next roundabout (where the dual carriageway ends) stay on the A.690 & follow signs to City Centre & Consett (straight over). At the next roundabout stay on the A.690 & follow signs for Crook, Consett & County Hall (straight over – but get in the outside lane). At the next traffic lights turn right signposted for Consett, Chester-Le- St & County Hall. Turn right at the next roundabout into County Hall – you’ve arrived!

Travelling East (e.g. from Crook):
Use the A.690 from Crook to Durham. At the Neville’s Cross traffic lights turn left onto the A.167. At the first roundabout turn right (4th exit) following signs for City Centre. At the next roundabout go straight over. At the next roundabout go straight over into County Hall – you’ve arrived!

Harrier League, Aykley Heads, Durham, Saturday, November 18, 2017

women
posbibnamecatpackrace timeactual time
1657Laura Weightman (Morpeth Harriers & AC)FsenF28:3025:10
6456Sally HughesFsenS29:4829:48
9412Emma ThompsonFV35M31:1829:38
20446Louise WarnerFV35S32:4232:42
26462Susan DavisFV55S33:1233:12
30429Juliet PercivalFV45S33:2633:26
32410Elaine BissonFV35F33:2930:09
51458Sarah DaviesFV50S33:5633:56
56452Rachelle MasonFV35S34:0334:03
71451Rachael BullockFsenS34:1934:19
811249Zanna ClayFsenS34:2534:25
1021168Natalie BellFsenS35:0635:06
103395Anna BasuFV40S35:1035:10
129414Fiona ShentonFV55S35:5135:51
151449Nina MasonFV40S36:2336:23
152461Stef BarlowFV40S36:2436:24
156399Camilla Lauren-MaattaFV50S36:2836:28
169423Jenny SearchFV40S36:5836:58
220459Sarah FawcettFV55S39:0539:05
261466Victoria JacksonFV35S40:4340:43
268397Ashley Price-SabateFV40S41:0341:03
273420Jan YoungFV65S41:1241:12
276392Aileen ScottFV45S41:2041:20
322468Zoe Dewdney-ParsonsFV35S45:5645:56
332401Carol HolgateFV45S47:1747:17
men
posbibnamecatpackrace timeactual time
11764Sebatian Anthony (West SuffolkAC)MU20S36:2036:20
33518Mark WarnerMV35S41:1241:12
40546Stuart ScottMV35S41:3341:33
125523Michael LittlewoodMV40M43:4241:12
133508James LeeMV40S43:5143:51
170524Michael MasonMV40F44:3139:31
194503Geoff DavisMV60S44:5544:55
217532Phil RayMV35M45:2442:54
241510Jerry LloydMV50S45:4545:45
259506Jack LeeMsenM46:0543:35
277507James GarlandMV40M46:2743:57
342536Robert AllfreeMV40S48:4848:48
343517Mark PayneMV35S48:4848:48
345490Daniel MitchelMV40S48:5348:53
346483Andrew RaynerMsenS48:5448:54
363540Simon JeffersonMV40S49:3849:38
390522Michael HughesMV50S50:3350:33
423547Tim MatthewsMV50S52:0752:07
427533Philip ConnorMsenS52:1652:16
4381621John MetsonMV60S52:5252:52
440514Malcolm SygroveMV50S52:5552:55
459493David BrowbankMV35S54:2054:20
469481Andrew DaviesMV40S54:4854:48
472501Emil MaataMsenS54:5854:58
5131620David TothMV45S58:2658:26
524478Alan ScottMV50S59:2559:25
530542Stephen EllisMV60S61:0561:05
533479Alan SmithMV70S61:5761:57

Harrier League: Aykley Heads, Saturday, November 18, 2017

This Saturday is a major fixture in the Harrier League. The third fixture of the season will be held at Aykley Heads. The weather is forecast to be cold, bright and dry. It promises to be a good day.

Whether you’re racing, marshalling, watching or supporting, the following information should be useful.

Course map (thanks to Jules Percival)

Aykley Heads course map courtesy of Jules Percival

OpenStreetMap view (from marshalls walkthrough on 11th Nov)
Total distance: 2.2 mi
Max elevation: 312 ft
Min elevation: 210 ft
Total climbing: 230 ft
Total descent: -223 ft
Average speed: 22.35 min/mi
Total Time: 01:09:57
Download

To see this map with the marshall points marked have a look at this attackpoint map or this Google pdf map.

Note:The section between marshall points 4 and 5 is part of the race route only, and is not normally open to the public.

Race Parking is at Durham County Hall car park only. It’s free and only 400m from the start – please do not park anywhere else, please do not try to park closer to the course as you will be charged, or worse, and we could lose this venue! There will be plenty of parking for everybody at County Hall but please car share.

THERE IS RESTRICTED USE OF ONE SECTION OF THE CAR PARK THIS YEAR – ONLY THOSE INTENDING TO LEAVE BY 2.30PM MAY USE THIS SECTION SO PLEASE OBEY THE CAR PARK MARSHALS!

There is no parking in the DLI car park this year.

Officials Parking: This will be on the tennis courts adjacent to the new Police HQ. Go north from the County Hall roundabout on the B.6532, turn right at the next roundabout, straight over at the next roundabout & then follow the signs.

Tent drop off We have a tent drop off point adjacent to the course. Go north from the County Hall roundabout on the B.6532, turn right at the next roundabout, straight over at the next roundabout & then follow the signs. Only use this if your tent is very heavy! There is absolutely no parking for competitors here and it is not a drop off point for latecomers. Tents must be left with the tent drop off marshals and competitors return to County Hall to park.

Registration is adjacent to the course in the tented area (look out for Vicki’s big blue tent) – unless the weather is very bad and then it will be in County Hall reception area (Micky Baker to confirm).

Toilets are located in County Hall foyer and there will be portable toilets close to the race start area.

Do not enter County Hall in muddy shoes – they won’t let us come back next year if you do!

The course is walking distance from County Hall car park (follow the signs) & is on the former Durham Constabulary playing fields.

Directions to County Hall (postcode: DH1 5TP)

County Hall is a major landmark in Durham and many of you will already know where it is and how to get there. There are frequent trains to Durham from Newcastle and Darlington. The station is around half a mile from the venue. Please use public transport where possible!

If you must come by car then directions are as follows (please note that due to the Lumiere festival of light taking place in the city there may be traffic restrictions in place including eastbound lane closures on Millburngate Bridge.


Travelling south (e.g. from Newcastle):

Use the A.1m and turn off at Junction 62 (signposted for Durham & Sunderland). At the top of the slip road turn right at the roundabout joining the A.690 into Durham. At the next roundabout (where the dual carriageway ends) stay on the A.690 & follow signs to City Centre & Consett (straight over). At the next roundabout stay on the A.690 & follow signs for Crook, Consett & County Hall (straight over – but get in the outside lane). At the next traffic lights turn right signposted for Consett, Chester-Le- St & County Hall. Turn right at the next roundabout into County Hall – you’ve arrived!

Travelling north (e.g. from Darlington):
Use the A.1m and turn off at Junction 62 (signposted for Durham & Sunderland). At the top of the slip road turn left at the roundabout joining the A.690 into Durham. At the next roundabout (where the dual carriageway ends) stay on the A.690 & follow signs to City Centre & Consett (straight over). At the next roundabout stay on the A.690 & follow signs for Crook, Consett & County Hall (straight over – but get in the outside lane). At the next traffic lights turn right signposted for Consett, Chester-Le- St & County Hall. Turn right at the next roundabout into County Hall – you’ve arrived!

Travelling west (e.g. from Sunderland):
Use the A.690 from Sunderland or from the A.19 for Durham. At the junction of the A.690 and A.1m go straight over staying on the A.690 into Durham. At the next roundabout (where the dual carriageway ends) stay on the A.690 & follow signs to City Centre & Consett (straight over). At the next roundabout stay on the A.690 & follow signs for Crook, Consett & County Hall (straight over – but get in the outside lane). At the next traffic lights turn right signposted for Consett, Chester-Le- St & County Hall. Turn right at the next roundabout into County Hall – you’ve arrived!

Travelling East (e.g. from Crook):
Use the A.690 from Crook to Durham. At the Neville’s Cross traffic lights turn left onto the A.167. At the first roundabout turn right (4th exit) following signs for City Centre. At the next roundabout go straight over. At the next roundabout go straight over into County Hall – you’ve arrived!

Harrier League, Aykley Heads, Saturday, November 21, 2015

Mudman

A New Beginning?

Striders’ home x/c fixture at Aykley Heads saw an excellent turn out of purple clad runners – 68 in total, with no less than 16 making their debuts, and what a performance they put in! Cheered on by an army of high-viz clad Strider marshals the men’s team finished in a magnificent first place in Division 2 while the women maintained their 5th place in their highly competitive Division 1. What a fantastic day!

First up for Striders was Sally Hughes in the junior women’s race. Home for the weekend from Loughborough University, where she rubs shoulders with international athletes and coaches on a daily basis, fast packer Sally showed us all how it’s done by floating over the mud and finishing in an excellent 24th place. Well done Sally and we’ll see you again soon for the North Easterns!

Sally Tamsin Mandy Sarah Jules Penny

Things were pretty cold on the exposed former police sports ground by the time the senior woman’s race got underway. Some of our women had been marshalling for a couple of hours before the race and they must have been nithered! They didn’t show it however, and Tamsin, on her debut, was quick to head the Strider charge. By now the course was in a well worn state – to put it mildly! Tight muddy turns and mini quagmires, interspersed with long up-hill stretches and nasty little ups and downs, were what the sadistic course planners had provided! Tamsin maintained her ‘lead’, was first Strider home & ran straight into the medium pack! There was a battle royal behind her with Mandy, Sarah and Jules fighting it out for the other counting places closely followed in by Penny from the fast pack (fresh from being presented with the Alan Purvis Cross Country Quaich for 2014-15 by the man himself shortly before the race).

Rachelle Victoria Kath Laura Helen Karen

But the main drama was being played out by the other 28 Striderettes seven of whom were making their debut on the toughest course in the league. So well done to Rachelle Mason, Victoria Brown, Kath Dodd (returning after a nigh on 30 year gap!), Laura Beacham, Helen Hall, Aileen Scott (wonderful finish) & Karyn Pyle (so relaxed). You all deserve a medal for completing that race – it was genuinely tough providing conditions normally only encountered in regional or national championship races and you were lining up with international athletes. I hope you are proud of yourselves because you should be!

Aileen Aileen Aileen Aileen

Other performances of note included that by the ‘evergreen’ Jan Young – first v60 home, Louise Warner – a fine first run from the medium pack and Catherine Elliott showing she’s made of stern stuff! A fifth place finish on the day for the team and fifth place for the season so far – a good platform to build on.

By the time the men’s race was due to start at 2.15pm things were pretty cold and the course was at its muddiest. Striders men’s team was also packed with debutants (9 no less!) and when one politely asked Mudman for ‘any tips’, years of x/c experience were called upon to offer up the gem of ‘start near the front’! Anyway, it worked because the debutant asking for the tip was Michael Mason and he had an absolutely magnificent race finishing in 18th place overall, achieving immediate promotion to the medium pack and being first Strider home – what a start! Not far behind was another Michael (Littlewood) making his debut. Fairly new to running Michael too achieved medium pack qualification with his 39th place – an incredible performance that he should be very proud of. Well done to both of you! Third Strider was yet another debutant – Mark Warner. Mark didn’t quite achieve medium pack qualification but it will just be a matter of time before he does. Could these three performances represent a new beginning for Striders men’s x/c? Let’s hope so.

Michael Michael (the other one)

Other counters included the more experienced heads of Jerry, Chairman Paul and Simon with Neil, Jack, Matt & Stephen (from the fast pack and fastest Strider on the day) not too far behind. Our other six debutants experienced various highs and lows in the mud – Paul Foster lost the soles of his ‘well worn’ fell shoes, David Browbank’s shoes came off altogether and he completed the race barefoot! (how tough is that?!) while Peter Swinburne, Alex Witty, Peter Hart and David Beecham all got round with their shoes on!

There were some brave performances from our old hands throughout the field. Tom continues to return to the form of old while Alan Smith and Phil Todd showed considerable courage and determination to conquer the brutal unforgiving course. Well done to you all and what a team performance – first on the day in Division 2 and now third place for the season so far. The top two teams are promoted to Division 1 at the end of the season. Could it happen to us? It will take a lot of commitment and hard graft but come on Striders! Let’s give it a go!

Alan Phil

Aykley Heads was very much a ‘Striders Production’ in association with Derwentside AC (Mark Davinson) and Durham Harriers (Geoff Watson). Scores of Striders acted as course or car park marshals and event organisers. We also had dozens of Strider friends and family supporting on the day. So thanks to you all – in your own way you all contributed to making it a day to remember!

Deer amongst the Aykley Heads spectators Deer amongst the Aykley Heads spectators Deer amongst the Aykley Heads spectators

Results

MEN
position bib name cat pack race time actual time
1 1888 Kevin Calvert (Morpeth Harriers & AC) MSen S 36:59 36:59
18 1346 Michael Mason MV40 S 41:47 41:47
39 531 Michael Littlewood MV40 S 43:24 43:24
81 1345 Mark Warner MV35 S 44:24 44:24
86 516 Jerry Lloyd MV45 S 44:30 44:30
91 535 Paul Evans MV35 S 44:36 44:36
105 546 Simon Gardner MV45 S 44:49 44:49
131 1347 Neil Sleeman MV35 S 45:35 45:35
137 513 Jack Lee Msen S 45:35 45:35
148 528 Matthew Archer Msen S 45:51 45:51
152 549 Stephen Jackson Msen F 45:51 40:51
242 552 Tom Reeves MV45 S 47:39 47:39
260 499 David Brown MV35 S 48:09 48:09
292 496 Danny Lim MV35 S 48:55 48:55
305 537 Paul Swinburne MV40 S 49:14 49:14
307 520 Jon Ayres MV40 S 49:14 49:14
335 530 Michael Hughes MV45 S 50:26 50:26
369 533 Mike Bennett MV60 S 51:33 51:33
375 1882 Steve Lindsay MV55 S 51:42 51:42
381 510 Geoff Davis MV55 S 51:59 51:59
382 487 Alex Witty MV35 S 51:59 51:59
389 545 Shaun Roberts MV55 S 52:13 52:13
476 522 Malcolm Sygrove MV45 S 55:52 55:52
494 541 Richard Stollery MV35 S 56:38 56:38
495 551 Tim Matthews MV50 S 56:45 56:45
502 484 Adam Bent MV60 S 57:05 57:05
524 1880 Peter Hart MV35 S 58:36 58:36
555 485 Alan Smith MV65 S 62:48 62:48
570 1826 David Browbank MV35 S 65:04 65:04
579 521 Lindsay Rodgers MV45 S 67:46 67:46
582 1344 David Beacham MV50 S 68:31 68:31
588 1828 Phil Todd MV45 S 75:54 75:54

592 finishers.

Top of Division 2 with 109 points.

WOMEN
position bib name cat pack race time actual time
1 540 Hazelle Webster-Costella (Jarrow & Hebburn AC) FSen S 28:45 28:45
29 439 Tamsin Imber FV35 S 32:52 32:52
44 421 Mandy Dawson FV45 S 33:33 33:33
51 433 Sarah Davies FV45 S 33:45 33:45
55 403 Juliet Percival FV40 S 33:49 33:49
64 426 Penny Browell FV40 F 34:01 30:01
111 381 Fiona Shenton FV55 S 35:07 35:07
123 374 Debra Goddard FV40 S 35:21 35:21
145 429 Rachelle Mason FV35 S 35:54 35:54
147 418 Louise Warner FV35 M 35:54 33:54
151 367 Catherine Elliott FV35 S 35:59 35:59
163 438 Susan Davis FV55 M 36:14 34:14
177 436 Stephanie Piper Fsen S 36:33 36:33
202 427 Rachael Bullock Fsen F 37:20 33:20
218 440 Victoria Brown Fsen S 37:45 37:45
219 399 Joan Hanson FV45 S 37:45 37:45
226 390 Jan Young FV60 S 38:09 38:09
239 435 Stef Barlow FV40 S 38:49 38:49
240 1152 Kath Dodd FV45 S 38:49 38:49
245 388 Helen Williams FV40 S 39:00 39:00
249 386 Helen Thomas FV40 S 39:08 39:08
260 393 Jean Bradley FV55 S 39:28 39:28
282 816 Anna Seeley Fsen S 40:29 40:29
283 406 Kate MacPherson FV40 S 40:35 40:35
285 361 Anita Clementson FV45 S 40:35 40:35
298 822 Karen Metters FV40 S 41:12 41:12
299 827 Victoria Jackson FV35 S 41:12 41:12
337 368 Catherine Smith FV35 S 43:12 43:12
346 824 Laura Beacham Fsen S 43:52 43:52
352 385 Helen Hall FV45 S 44:28 44:28
353 357 Aileen Scott FV45 S 44:29 44:29
359 375 Denise Benvin FV45 S 44:58 44:58
370 430 Rebecca Devine Fsen S 45:56 45:56
377 823 Karyn Pyle FV55 S 47:16 47:16

398 finishers.

5th in Division 1 with 99 points.

Under 17 girls and U20 women
position bib name cat pack race time actual time
1 653 Holly Matheson (Heaton Harriers) FU17 S 24:25 24:25
24 246 Sally Hughes FU20 F 28:35 26:05

43 finishers.

Harrier League, Aykley Heads, Saturday, November 22, 2014

Harrier League X-Country Returns To Durham!

Anita Dunseith …

Anita prepares herself for the REALLY hard bit ahead!As the majority of people who know me will be aware I unashamedly and vociferously love XC and Saturday’s ‘home’ fixture at Aykley Heads was the best XC race I’ve ever been lucky enough to compete in.

I acknowledge I’m utterly biased but I thought the course was absolutely brilliant. It had everything, even a Grand National style jump that my hubby has christened ‘The Chair’. There were a surprising number of hills crammed into the 2 mile lap; ‘brutal’ is the word I’ve heard repeatedly to describe the course by its competitors; ‘unrelenting’ and ‘a proper cross country course’ are a couple of others.

The initial part on the field was tricky given the large mounds of grass, then we descended quite gradually for a while enjoying the view over the railway and across the valley. Turn left and it was up a surprisingly steep hill to then turn right and along to ‘The Chair’ (a jump Desert Orchid would have felt at home with). Down again, this time VERY muddy and with a great hairpin right turn at the bottom, disappointingly few seem to have fallen here though! A long gradual ascent along the railway then a steeper climb (with you guessed it, mud!).

We turned left on the ascent to more of the thick brown stuff and struggled through the quagmire desperately trying to keep our shoes on until we reached the ‘piece de resistance’ of the course – a short steep descent put in purely for the privilege of running (crawling) back out of it again four seconds later! A true lung buster with the kind of mud XC is renowned for (Mudwoman’s rain dancing has worked wonders this week). After the ascent it was time for recovery back on the divetty (if it’s not a word it should be) field and on to the second lap!

The atmosphere was absolutely brilliant – the tents and banners were out in force and with pride as usual. There was purple and green face paint (war paint or go faster stripes depending on your outlook), the sun was shining, there was loads of mud, friendly marshals, many of them in purple, offering support all the way round, hugs, chats, so many laughs and even some tears.

Course marshals gather before the action begins at Aykley Heads

One of the really great things about XC for me is that there’s competition at every point in the field. From the pointy elbowed whippets at the front to the super enthusiastic springer spaniels in the middle and us strong determined bull mastiffs bringing up the rear (thanks Kerry for the dog analogies), we all have someone we’re keeping an eye on at each fixture to pit ourselves against. Some days you come out on top and others it’s your nemesis who goes home grinning but (usually!) as you cross the line it’s a handshake or a quick hug of ‘well done’ before more hill reps in time for the next fixture.

There are many times in my life I have complained about how easy gents have it compared to us ladies – they can wee standing up, they don’t have crazy hormones to deal with and will never have their whole day’s mood dictated by whether their ‘bum looks big in this’. But, as I was midway through my second lap on Saturday I looked up at the clear blue sky and heaped thanks on the running gods and the wonderful officials at Harrier League that I wouldn’t have to do a third gruelling lap.

I didn’t run any faster than normal, nothing was particularly different to anything I’d normally do but Saturday was one of those days where everything ‘clicked’ and I absolutely loved every step.

I, Anita Dunseith am a XC addict.

… Danny Lim …

Aykley Heads was transformed into a running festival. A city of tents had sprung up and yards of marking tape snaked around the course. I arrived just as the women’s race was under way. Their faces were etched with grim, unsmiling expressions: “Second lap?” I asked a fellow spectator, “no, just the first!” she replied. The ladies were clearly pulling out all the stops. I was inspired (terrified) to see them cross the finish, as if they were about to pass out.

It was a great course with obstacles to challenge the most seasoned runners. There was the “bad step”, a three-foot vertical bank we had to vault up. In true Grand National style, there was “the bench”, though no runners had to be put down yesterday. “Hairpin Corner” saw many a runner take an impromptu mud-bath. And who can forget the “Slide of Death”, where I suicidally sprinted down before slamming into a fellow runner and crashing into the bushes. This was finished off by that final hill, reminiscent of Geoff Davies’ “Burma road” hill sessions. At the finish there was quality male bonding as I dry-retched with Jon Ayres and David Brown, knees on the ground.

But the pain was neutralised by the phenomenal support from spectators and marshals. There seemed to be a cheering Strider at every turn, really it was unbelievable! My name was being called out so much that my fellow competitors asked, “Are you the famous Danny?” For a moment, I felt like Mo Farah as he raced to Olympic gold at London. A wall of purple chanted loudly in unison as I made my final muddy climb to the finish. I was embarrassed by it all but it made the pain all so much more bearable. Thank you all!

Most memorable of all was the hard work made by the small army of volunteers from the club, including parking attendants, marshals and course constructors, many of whom had been there since early morning. You are the unsung heroes of the day. What an honour it is to be part of such a warm and supportive club.

Car-parking marshals can't wait to start putting up their signs at Aykley Heads

Stephen Jackson, in his XC debut, was the first Strider to storm back home followed closely by Gareth Pritchard. Paul Evans who started in the medium pack, came in at an impressive third place. In the ladies’ race, Penny Browell made a stellar performance, coming home seventeenth, from a medium pack start. She was followed closely by Elaine Bisson and Susan Davis.

Sally Hughes made her debut in the fast pack and gave it her all in the women’s U17/U20. But youngest Strider award must go to Zak McGowan in the U13; way to go Zak! Helen Allen, Claire-Louise Wells, Laura Jackson, Stacey Brannan and Karen Hooper also made their first XC appearances, and what a tough start it was!

The senior ladies team put in an excellent performance which saw them promoted to third in Division One. Although the men had improved slightly, we are perched precariously near the bottom of the second divison. In the words of Geoff Davis, XC captain, “things are very tight at the bottom of the table and we’ve got to pull out all the stops to stay afloat!”. So come on then, see you all at the next fixture, it’s all hands to the pump!

… Geoff Davis …

There was a magnificent turn out of current Striders at Saturday’s event but Aykley Heads was also graced by a posse of former, or less active, Striders who were once as familiar a sight at Maiden Castle as Jacquie Robson and Phil Owen are today! They included:

Alan Purvis – the founder of Striders’ website and one of the initiators of the club’s involvement in the Harrier League. Alan was a frequent ‘counter’ in the HL keeping us out of the 3rd Division right up to his late 60s.

Kim Hall – once the queen of triathlon winning many prizes at events in the UK and abroad. Would tour Europe with husband Mike picking up gongs as they went!

Linda McDermott – wonderful Linda – a veteran of the HL when the women’s field was no bigger than the Striders’ committee. Competed in road races all over the place including the Coniston 14.

Peter McDermott – Linda’s other half and a man of many, many marathons. Always happy to help new runners with his vast experience.

Tony Young – Jan’s better half and a top notch runner in his day. Achieved Fast Pack status at the HL, something most of us just dream about, and a keen runner over the fells. A man still missed by all who ran with him.

Pam Kirkup – a now retired teacher and Striders’ secretary for many a year. Kept the club on an even keel while the rest of us were busy running up and down mountains. If she was a stick of rock and you snapped her in two – you’d see the words ELVET STRIDERS running right through her!

It was great to see them all – let’s hope we see more of them at other races or Strider events.

… Paul Evans

Saturday was a long day, with the anticipation spanning many hours thanks to our hosting of Durham’s first cross-country fixture in over a decade. A true club effort in the car park and around the course saw us provide the vast majority of the volunteers needed to make it happen and, logistically, the day ran smoothly; it did, however, prolong the pre-race agony, as did the delights of seeing the thundering pack of Striders ladies attacking/churning-up the course. The pain etched on their faces did not bode well.

A further two and a half minutes extended the wait further as the male race began; as a medium pack runner I find it impossible to watch the starting pack disappear into the distance without mentally calculating how far they will have gone and how long it will be before even the smallest inroads can be made into them. The time dragged…and then it didn’t. As a slow starter I struggle to keep up with what is always a rapid burst of effort in the first few hundred metres, knowing with my head that 3 x 2.1m = ‘a long way to catch people’ yet feeling with something else that the pack must be stayed with (fellow Striders particularly), even if it goes against the way I run in any other environment.

Aykley Heads is not just any environment and this was not just any day. This was a perfect course, long enough to stretch people, well-watered enough to suck shoes from the ill-prepared, hilly enough to sap legs on the ascents and destroy balance on the downhill and overwhelmingly beautiful, lit by a low, wintry sun. This was a course that beckoned you to attack, whatever your relative strengths, and rewarded you when you did so; both relentless plod and downhill gamble saw me gain places throughout the first lap, eventually catching the first Striders with Jerry Lloyd on my shoulder and Rob Everson somewhere ahead.

There was still no sign of Simon, James, Geoff or Rob in front and Gareth and Stephen were clearly flying from the slow pack, but more and more purple vests continued to be caught and passed, one by one, a brief grunt was all the breath that could be spared in encouragement. Danny, Scott, David, Mike, Jon and Graeme were all running well but were peripheral to what was now a very personal run-off, conducted to what seemed to be a solid wall of noise from the spectators with Strider voices loudest amongst them.

Elswick; Tynedale; Gosforth; Blackhill; Crook; Alnwick; Strollers; Birtley; Jarrow: runner by runner, vest by vest, we worked our way around the course, same but different by now, as each turn was all the more treacherous on the last lap of the day. Jerry still led me down to the hairpin, though he was less steady on his feet by now. Unfortunately I was no better and slightly rolled an ankle whilst dancing past a competitor for the privilege of reaching the grabbing tree one position ahead of him. I stayed upright and the dance went on – down to the railway (where Anita drowned out the passing trains), up the drag where I caught and overtook him, then on, up the big climb (which had finally turned some runners into walkers) and into a new contest with Geoff now in sight.

Paul overhauls Geoff in 'the decisive moment'

A forward lean into the nasty corner descent (knowing he’d be doing the same and letting gravity work for him), a slight over-shoot and up the hill, aware that Geoff, Jerry and an Elswick Harrier were somewhere not far away. Then the final grassy stretch opened up: one right hand turn, with lungs and legs competing but failing to scream louder than the purple horde and it was over!

This was not a nice race. It was a perfect race that demanded all you had and asked for more. It was hard, brutal, elemental running, elegant in its simplicity, treating all who competed equally. Several runners did not finish with falls and sprains demonstrating the risks of this form of running. This was no parkrun or ultra trudge with tea and cake halfway round. Fine margins gained by single runner contests decide Harrier League places and the efforts of both ladies (an outstanding third on the day in the first division) and men (an improved eighth, by a mere 260 points to Elswick’s 263) were just reward for the suffering endured – though we’re still second-bottom in the second division and more will be required if we’re to stay up.

This is a personal account and says nothing of the trials of Helen Allen, Laura Jackson, Karen Hooper, Catherine Smith, Stacey Brannan, Claire-Louise Wells, Stephen Jackson (first male counter) and any other newcomer who picked both the best and worst of XC races in which to make their debuts. It says little of the lovely camaraderie post-race and is not in any way a comprehensive account of a day which will probably prove the best XC fixture of the season in many ways. Finally, it also says nothing of what Jerry Lloyd experienced; Jerry, my thanks for an unforgettable (I hope for you also) 6.3 miles.

Results

Men
Pos Name Club Cat Time
1 Tim Goulding Birtley AC S Sen 37:04
36 Stephen Jackson S Sen 41:33
63 Gareth Pritchard S Sen 42:44
175 Paul Evans M Sen 45:15
182 Geoff Davis S Vet 45:26
191 Jerry Lloyd M Vet 45:32
209 Matthew Crow S Sen 46:08
216 Graeme Walton S Vet 46:24
239 Scott Watson S Vet 46:59
252 Matthew Archer S Sen 47:22
255 James Garland S Sen 47:27
268 David Gibson S Vet 48:02
270 Michael Hughes S Vet 48:02
277 Dave Halligan S Vet 48:15
281 David Brown S Sen 48:22
283 Jon Ayres S Vet 48:27
302 Danny Lim S Sen 48:56
327 Conrad White S Vet 49:52
329 Marc Jones S Sen 49:56
344 John Metson S Vet 50:18
354 Jon Steed S Vet 50:36
406 David Lumsdon S Vet 52:19
424 David Selby S Vet 52:55
430 Eric Green S Vet 53:08
478 Ari Hodgson S Sen 55:23
490 Innes Hodgson S Vet 56:24
500 Andy Short S Vet 57:12
508 Mark Dunseith S Sen 57:50
512 Phil Owen S Vet 58:09
517 Peter McGowan S Vet 58:31
519 David Spence S Vet 58:34
528 Nick Jones S Sen 60:09
538 Dave Robson S Vet 61:39
541 Lindsay Rodgers S Vet 62:41
544 Stephen Ellis S Vet 65:15
549 Andrew Thurston S Vet 67:19

557 finishers.

Women
Pos Name Club Cat Time
1 Jo Ritson Durham City Harriers S Sen 28:23
17 Penny Browell M Vet 32:31 *
23 Elaine Bisson S Vet 32:49
38 Susan Davis S Vet 33:23
48 Rachael Bullock M Sen 33:40
53 Lucy Cowton S Sen 33:44
58 Mandy Dawson S Vet 33:53
70 Camilla Lauren-Maatta S Vet 34:09
81 Helen Tones M Vet 34:31
93 Sarah Davies S Vet 34:48
96 Fiona Jones S Vet 34:54
111 Rachel Terry M Vet 35:21
116 Lesley Charman S Vet 35:23
130 Fiona Shenton M Vet 35:37
137 Debra Goddard S Vet 35:53
151 Juliet Percival M Vet 35:58
160 Melanie Hudson S Vet 36:13
174 Helen Williams S Vet 36:44
177 Stephanie Piper S Sen 36:54
198 Jane Ives S Vet 37:36
200 Jan Young S Vet 37:36
246 Jean Bradley S Vet 39:32
248 Nina Mason S Vet 39:38
264 Kate MacPherson S Vet 40:22
268 Katherine Preston S Vet 40:31
280 Joanne Porter S Vet 41:22
286 Anja Fechtner S Vet 41:53
287 Claire-Louise Wells S Vet 41:56
295 Jacquie Robson S Vet 42:14
300 Stacey Brannan S Vet 42:37
311 Catherine Smith S Vet 43:56
317 Louise Billcliffe S Vet 44:27
321 Karen Hooper S Vet 45:27
322 Denise Benvin S Vet 45:43
323 Diane Watson S Vet 45:57
334 Helen Allen S Vet 46:51
347 Kerry Lister S Vet 51:14
348 Anita Dunseith S Sen 51:18
353 Claire Galloway S Sen 55:40
354 Laura Jackson S Vet 61:32

* Promoted to Fast Pack

354 finishers.

U17 & U20 Girls
Pos Name Club Cat Time
1 Lydia Sharpe Durham City Harriers S U20 19:49
27 Sally Hughes F U20 28:02

34 finishers.

U13 Boys
Pos Name Club Cat Time
1 Ben Wardle Gateshead Harriers S U13 13:51
27 Zak McGowan S U13 16:29

52 finishers.