MEDALS SHARED DOWN ON THE FARM
WITH entries down on expectations the North East Counties Cross-Country Relay Championships still proved a success especially for a number clubs who don’t often figure among the medalists.
Once again Thornley Hall Farm was the venue and, on a Spring-like day competition was keen for the region’s senior and master’s with only a short section of the two-mile course what you would call muddy.
Such was the relatively low entry the four-race programme was condensed into two with the senior and masters’ combining making it more competitive.
The female relay opened the day’s action and it was a gun to tape victory for Gateshead Harriers in the senior contest after they were given the perfect start on the opening leg by Kim Simpson whose 12min 40sec proved to be the quickest of the day. Jane Giles, who could have lined up in the masters, took over from Simpson and extended the Tynesiders’ advantage with the second quickest overall time. Bethany Curran set off on the glory leg and once again she was fastest on stage three to bring home the team with a near four-minute cushion.
|Kim Simpson runs the fastest leg of the day|
Following them home was a delighted Crook contingent to claim the silver medals with the trio of Rachel McHugh, their quickest, Amy Etherington and Kate Storey. The bronze awards went to South Shields thanks to Michelle Douglas, Kellie Paterson and, quickest for the white and blues, Fran Dembele. Twelve teams closed in with Elvet Striders, Wallsend and Elswick following the top three home.
MASTERS WOMEN (3x2-mile)
It was a much closer affair in the masters’ contest with victory eventually going to Elswick who moved into the lead on the last leg. The Newcastle club were ahead on stage one thanks to Felicity Smith whose 13:47 was the day’s quickest overall. South Shields (Jackie Murdy) was in second place followed by North Shields Poly (Katherine Davis). On stage two the Poly moved into first place thanks to Natalie Mortimer who came to the final changeover two seconds ahead of Elswick’s Debbie Spoor.
It was nip and took over the final two-mile with Elswick (Joanne Brown) eventually coming home in pole position to push the Poly (Alison Smith) back into second place six seconds adrift. The Poly’s B string crossed the line in third place – Michelle Thomson was the pick of the trio – but unfortunately for them they had to relinquish the bronze awards to the ruling of one set of medals per club which meant Elvet Striders’ were promoted to take the third-place medals as Emma McCabe posted their quickest time. South Shields finished in fourth place, Wallsend were fifth and Birtley sixth.
SENIOR MEN (4x2-mile)
Sunderland got off to the perfect start thanks to the quickest clocking of the day by Stephen Jackson (10:47). Jackson, a member of the North East team at the Inter-Counties Championships the previous weekend, came into the changeover 25 seconds ahead of Gosforth’s James McCreesh with Tyne Bridge (Craig Jones) in third place. Liam Taylor set off on leg two for Sunderland and proceeded to extend the Wearsiders’ advantage with Tyne Bridge moving into second place ahead of Gateshead (Sam Hansen). For the penultimate leg Michael Rodenby consolidated Sunderland’s lead with Tyne Bridge still in second ahead of Gateshead.
|Sunderland Harriers' Stephen Jackson|
Steve Rankin improved Sunderland’s advantage even further on the glory leg with the day’s third quickest time overall behind Jackson and Taylor to break the tape nearly two minutes clear of Tyne Bridge (Ryan Holt) with Gateshead completing the one-two-three. A superb fourth place finish by Aycliffe (John Firby their best) and an excellent fifth-place finish by Derwent Valley Trail Runners thanks to Jack Siddaway the pick of their quartet.
MASTERS MEN (3x2-mile)
A strong trio of Michael Littlewood, Mark Warner and Graeme Watt saw Elvet Striders’ claim the title after being in third place in the early dtsges. Tyne Bridge (Paul Turnbull) led by 10 seconds at the first changeover. Warner quickly moved the Durham-based outfit into pole position on leg two ahead of the Newcastle team despite Dave Moir’s effort before Watt, with the quickest overall time of the day, extended Elvet’s lead all the way to the finish. Tyne Bridge were comfortable runner’s up ahead of Durham City with Phil Tickner’s second-stage helping the orange vests to bronze medals.
**Thanks to Jon Taylor for once again letting the Association have the use of his land for the Championships and also to all the technical officials and to Sunderland Harriers for supplying an excellent team of marshals.
**THE Association will return to Thornley Hall Farm on Saturday, April 2 when it’s the turn of the Young Athletes Cross-Country Relay.