Wednesday 5 December 2018

113th NECAA Cross Country Championships


Gateshead Harriers host the 113th running of the North Eastern Counties Cross Country Championships on Saturday at the popular Wrekenton North East harrier League venue, with a twist as all races will be ran in the opposite direction.

Saltwell Harriers hosted the 103rd championships at the same venue ten years ago on a very wet day, resulting in a muddy course. Many of this Saturday`s entrants will have memories of that day and a lot will feature again. 

Highlighting a few of the 2008 finishers, in the senior men`s race Conrad Franks (Gateshead) 9th last year and 20th in 2008 will be looking for his best north eastern finish after leading home the England Master`s M35 squad to team gold at the annual Great Britain and Ireland annual master`s cross country international in November at Swansea. Dan Garbutt (Durham City), so consistent over the years and 3rd Junior Man in 2008 and senior winner in 2013 will also contest a wide open senior men`s field. Last year`s winner Jack Martin does not defend and Greg Jayasuriya (Middlesbrough & Cleveland) 3rd last year at Redcar should be among the race favourites. 

NECAA Team Manager Stewy Bell, 6th in 2008 is once again entered by Blackhill Bounders. Morpeth could be under threat from Tyne Bridge in the team event, where Philip Winkler, an U13 bronze team medallist with Alnwick ten years ago may feature as a counter.

In the senior women`s field, Jane Hodgson 3rd in 2017 and running under her maiden name  Mooney was 7th in 2008 she is entered in the Morpeth team who finished runners up in a close team race with Jarrow last time out. Morpeth`s Emma Holt, second at Redcar will be a strong favourite with Jarrow`s Georgia Campbell definitely in the mix leading the defending team champions. Sonia Samuel`s the 2017 winner is unlikely to run and both Kate Avery (Shildon) and Lydia Turner (Birtley) are on Great Britain duty at the European Cross Country Championships in Tilburg in Holland. Ten years ago, Lydia finished 3rd in the U13 girls race.

From a list of forty odd technical and ancillary officials in 2008, twelve still remain on duty this year in various capacities. Keith Wood (Saltwell H), 2008 Clerk of Course will lead his course set up team to an early start once again.

In 2008, 183 finished the senior men`s race, with 501 entries this year, 400+ could finish.  62 completed the 2008 senior women`s championship and this year`s entry of 317, points to an impressive 250+ finishers. Ten years ago,  all ten age groups saw a total of 500 complete the challenging course on the day, this should easily be doubled on Saturday.

The U11 Boy`s non championship gets proceedings underway at 10.35am, with the championship events at 11.00, with the feature senior men`s and senior women`s races at 1.00 and 1.55 respectively.

Archie Jenkins

Championship Secretary

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