Northern Counties X-C Champs
[Sat 28th Jan]
Saturday the 28th of January 2012 heralded the annual Northern Cross Country Championships which this year was being held at Pontefract Park. As one of the Clubs objectives is to have entries in major championships a wee trip down the A1 to Yorkshire was a no brainer. As several of the Juniors were concentrating on other events, we only had 7 Juniors running so compared to previous trips we had a relatively late start from Blyth Sports Centre with Ralph and I being the first cars away at 08:15. Ralph had drawn the short straw and had Chris L, Jake J and Dave B for company. The journey south was pretty uneventful and we reached the race course at about 11:00 and managed to get parked in the race course car parks - so we didn’t have to carry the tent/flag far.
The infrequently used West Yorkshire track, provided an excellent base for hundreds of runners from various Northern Athletic clubs who descended and pitched their tents. Throughout the day there was bright January sunshine which meant that the conditions were described in true racing terms by Race Referee Kevin Carr, as good to firm.
Those conditions surprisingly remained throughout the ten race programme, which made athletes very much appreciative of the venue, a factor clearly echoed by the Women, who being the ninth event on the day would have normally be running in thick mud.
The actual course route was mostly flat, not much mud, no rivers to cross and it was a beautiful sunny day. Not the kind of day we are used to in Northumberland in the middle of Winter.
Most of the Juniors had ran Championships before, apart from Alice, so we had to explain about the “pen” system to her. Alice was the first away for Blyth in the U13s girl race and she had a good steady run to finish 131/173. Next for Blyth was the U15 boys race with James Young first back in 118/161, Joseph Woods 125/161, Mark Nicholson 147/161, Joseph Dungworth 152/161. They finished as 16th team, just behind Alnwick, and third team from the North East. Then it was the U17 men where Jake and Chris seemed to have their own race with Jake finishing 86/111 and Chris 94/111.
By this time most of the Seniors had turned up (usually do after the tent has been put up) and then it was the Ladies turn, the 8km 2 lap flat race course provided a great venue for the championships, a brilliant day of sunshine and perfect conditions saw the team finish in 14th place out of 25 and a credible 3rd North East placing behind Durham and Morpeth harriers. Heather Christopher was first back in 85th place followed by Susanne Hunter - 119th; Phillippa Baxter - 126th; Helen Morris - 158th and Hayley Mastermann - 176th. There were 235 finishers in the senior ladies race, won by Lizzie Adams of Hallamshire harriers, Sheffield.
At the Northerns, the Mens race was the last event and unlike previous years the ladies hadn’t turned it into a mud bath with the going still good/firm. All the men acquitted themselves well on a fast but testing course with just under 700 finishers doing a 3 lap course of 8 miles. Blyth men were just outside the top 50 teams on the day
The team was Rob BARKLEY (323), Iain SINGER (464), Graeme STEWART (488), David BRADLEY (535), Ian BAXTER (573), Ralph DICKINSON (644).
Next year the event maybe at Sunderland so hopefully we should have a better turn out from the Seniors.
Full results can be found at www.race-results.co.uk
Keith / Helen