Wednesday 29 January 2020

Northern Athletic XC Championship Report


North East athletes were in superb form at the Start Fitness-supported Northern Cross-Country Championships held for the first time at the picturesque North Yorkshire Camp Hill Estate.
The region managed to plunder four individual gold medals, one silver and one bronze while two second team and two third team sets of medals also winged their way back up the A1.
The majority of North East clubs were represented which was no surprise as the fixture was being held close to home - that’s not to say the championships aren’t supported wherever they are held - and for many the trip home was a happy one.

THE senior men’s championship was the final race on the programme by which time the muddy sections of the course became a true test of strength and character. However, those who were still around had plenty to cheer especially from a North East point of view. Throughout the 12k contest Morpeth’s Carl Avery and Gateshead’s Calum Johnson were in contention at the head of affairs and, while Carl is a past winner, it was Calum who proved the strongest on the day. Contesting his first ‘Northern’ since winning the junior race on Merseyside six years ago, Calum managed to overcome a ‘bad patch’ during the last of the three laps to catch and overtake Leeds City’s Linton Taylor, the Yorkshireman eventually finishing in third place just ahead of Carl who missed out on a medal by 17 seconds. Middlesbrough and Cleveland duo Jack Willis and Greg Jayasuriya were next NE finishers in 15th and 18th place respectively while Carl Smith (Tyne Bridge) showed a welcome return to form after being sidelined through injury to finish 33rd.

There were 156 NE competitors among the 584 finishers which is a figure for the region to be proud of.

THE most exciting finish of the day came in the under-17 men’s championship and once again it was the NE who were celebrating victory. County champion Archie Lowe was always in the leading group but it wasn’t until the final 10 metres or so that he managed to nose ahead of Lancaster and Morecambe’s Matthew Knowles with the timekeeper’s managing to separate the pair by just one second at the line. Next home from the region was Morpeth’s Rowan Bennett in seventh place followed by Houghton’s Will Bellamy. Bellamy, who was 18th, led his club home to silver medal spot in team stakes with Morpeth claiming the bronze awards just three points adrift of their local rivals.

FIRST home in the under-15 Boys championship was the in-form Birtley athlete Chris Perkins. After his gun-to-tape victory in Stirling two weeks earlier, Perkins adopted the same front-running tactics which again proved a winning one. At the line he finished with a four-second cushion over his nearest rival though the gap was much larger mid-race suggesting that he was in control throughout. North Shields Poly’s Josh Blevins just missed out joining Perkins on the podium after tiring in the closing stages and had to be content with fourth place, five seconds adrift of a medal. Morpeth’s Joe Dixon was next NE athlete home in 11th place. He did however, lead the Northumbrians to third place team medals.

ALEX BOYER produced a text-book performance to win the Under-13 Boys title. The Darlington athlete led throughout, a run which executed his plan perfectly as he kept his rivals at bay. And though his lead was shortening all the way up the long finishing straight he still came home with four seconds in hand. Middlesbrough’s Christy O’Hare was always in contention for a medal but missed out by just two seconds in finishing in fourth place. Theo Dragio was next NE athlete home in sixth position.

HOUGHTON’S Cameron Allan tried his utmost to make it a clean-sweep of individual gold medals in the male races. However, despite pushing the pace along at the front of the Under-20 field Allan had to settle for third place at the end. And, he just managed to hang on for a medal for fast-finishing NE champion, Charlie McMillan (Gateshead) closed the gap behind to just one second! Morpeth’s Kieran Hedley was next NE finisher in 18th place.

FORMER Elswick athlete Philippa Williams, now running for Sheffield AC, was having her first cross-country race in five years and she produced a superb performance to finish in sixth place, a position which immediately caught the eye of the NE County selectors. Next home from the region in the Senior Women’s contest was Middlesbrough’s Philippa Stone (18th) who was closely followed home by fit-again Danielle Smythe of Heaton in 22nd place.

A DISAPPOINTING line-up of just 42 athletes faced the starter in the Junior Women’s championship and it was Gateshead pair Chloe Wellings and Elisha Tait who were the  region’s best finishing in seventh and eighth place respectively. Morpeth’s Robyn Bennett finished just one place behind the Tyneside duo. Gateshead, whose third counter was Amy Baker (32nd) just missed winning the team event finishing with 47 points, one more than Rotherham

GATESHEAD’S Ines Curran was the leading NE athlete in the under-17 Women’s Championship, finishing in 10th place. Houghton’s Anna Pigford was next best in 26th position closely followed by Chester-le-Street’s Emily Chong, who was 29th.

BIRTLEY’S Katie Francis led the NE charge in the Under-15 Girls Championship finishing in 11th place, just 20 seconds off a podium place. Alnwick’s Millie Breese was 18th; Lucy Scothern (Chester-le-Street) 23rd and Holly Waugh (North Shields Poly) 24th.

MIDDLESBROUGH’S Eden Creasey made sure the NE didn’t miss out on an individual female medal by claiming a superb second place in the Under-13 Girls Championship. The Teessider fought off all but Keighley and Craven’s Maisey Bellwood to cross the line just 10 seconds adrift of the winner. Darlington’s Zara Jones finished 10th with Durham City’s Charlotte Dillon next NE runner home in 14th place.

*WHILE entries overall were significantly down on previous years, North East clubs are to be congratulated on supporting the Championships in a big way which certainly cannot be said for a number of the other eight counties which make up the Northern region.

Bill McGuirk

Photos: Stuart Whitman & Adrian Royle

Full Results here

Thursday 23 January 2020

NEHL Update and other news

Just to confirm the re-arranged date for the Druridge Bay fixture will be the 29th March. We have a permit, and just need to confirm traffic management. Big thanks to everyone at Blyth RC involved with this. The fixture falls just a week before the Blyth 10K, so its likely that we'll be looking for a few volunteers nearer the time to help out with marshalling etc at the Harrier League fixture.

Paul is looking for help with the chip timing as he is unable to make the rearranged date.  If you want to see how it works please talk to him at the Thornley Hall Farm fixture.

Update on Lambton Estate. Met with the Estate Manager last weekend, and provisional date set for the 14th March. We'll probably be in a different part of the Estate (Castle side) than the planned site in October. We are working on the course design and looking to meet with the Estate gamekeeper to sort this in a couple of weeks time (probs around 8th Feb) and will be looking into updating our arrangements with the Safety Advisary Group, and also sort a permit. Have given NA a heads up re the latter and shouldn't be a problem. Hopefuly looking to firm up mid February-ish. Ha!ha! might go down to the wire on that one! No worries!🤓
John Stephens


Traffic: warning for anyone travelling to the Northern's at Bedale on Saturday from the west of the country (Cumbria)- the A66 will be closed between Rokeby and Scotch Corner all weekend for road resurfacing works.

The diversion goes through Barnard Castle, so they'll have to leave early to arrive on time.

There's more info here:

Travelling from the North access to the site is via junction 51 of the A1.  Follow event signage to Camp Hill Estate

Parking:  You will be directed to parking by marshals.  Cost is £5 per car.  Parking is on grass.

Dogs are allowed on site, but must be kept on a lead.

Due to increased rainfall at the Camp Hill Estate in Bedale we have had to slightly alter the layout for the XC Championships on Saturday. Please see the attached picture.

The main difference is the car park location and race start.

#xcchamps2020 #northernathletics


Alan is the runner who collapsed at the Birtley Relays last weekend.  There is an update from the Great North Air Ambulance on their facebook page:

We are so happy to see Alan Rippon sat up in his hospital bed and smiling after we airlifted him on Sunday.

If you saw our post yesterday, you will know that our crew placed Alan in a coma and airlifted to the RVI in Newcastle after he collapsed during his run.

GNAAS paramedic, Jamie Walsh, praised the work of the North East Ambulance Service and also the bystanders first to reach Alan.

He said: “The work that they did prior to our arrival was the main contributing factor to the patient’s positive outcome and just shows what can be achieved when we all link together seamlessly.”
Well done to everyone involved 💚

Donations to the GNAAS via Derwent Valley Trail Runners JustGiving page currently stand at over £2300.  If you'd like to add to the pot please donate here to this very worthy cause.

More from the GNAAS:

We are delighted to share the news that runner Alan Rippon is doing well after his collapse on Sunday.
Alan was placed in an induced coma and flown to the RVI by our team as he suffered a cardiac arrest while running in Birtley.
Derwent Valley Trail Runners, along with Alan's family and friends, have selflessly rallied together to raise funds in support of GNAAS - raising over £2,000 in just a couple of days. 💚
Colin Davidson, Alan's brother-in-law, said: “Alan is doing really well having had six stents inserted.
“He is over the moon about the fundraising and how well it is doing. His short-term memory is still a bit hazy but otherwise we're hoping he'll be out of hospital in the next couple of days.
“The whole family are extremely grateful for the response and have all contributed to the collection.”
Pictured are Dion and Jamie who attended the incident.

Tuesday 7 January 2020

Report from the Sherman Cup

Report by Bill McGuirk

THERE were many First Footers - and numerous Fast Footers - setting the trend for a new decade at the annual Sherman Cup and Davison Shield contests at Temple Park, hosted impeccably once again by South Shields Harriers.
And, as is customary these days, the Sherman trophy winged it's way back to Northumberland and Morpeth Harriers while, after an absence of five years, Gateshead Harriers regained the women's crown much to the delight of their band of supporters.
Double Gold for Robyn & Rowan Bennett

Just as he did to end the year - a winner of Saltwell Harriers 10k road race before Christmas - Calum Johnson decimated a huge field of over 400 to win comfortably by well over a minute with Gateshead team-mate, North Eastern Counties under-20 gold medalist, Charlie McMillan, came through strongly in the later stages to take second place with another junior athlete, Morpeth's Ross Charlton, finishing in third spot.
Senior Men's winner Callum Johnson
Three twisting circuits faced the competitors and it was North Shields Poly's David Green who took up the early running. However it wasn't long before Johnson appeared at the head of affairs. At the completion of the first lap Johnson had opened up a lead of around 100 metres with Green, Durham City's Matthew Hornsby, who had one eye on this coming weekend's Brass Monkey Half Marathon, and Charlton in a group while eventually runner-up McMillan, was languishing in sixth place. 
Lap two saw Johnson increase his advantage significantly as Green and Charlton just managed to keep the leader in sight. There was an impressive forward move by McMillan going into the final lap and he eventually clawed has way through into second place going into the final kilometre. 
Meanwhile, Johnson had extended the daylight between the chasers as he crossed the finish in 28min 51sec. While McMillan finished a comfortable second (30:29) there was disappointment for Green as he looked to be heading for third place only to go off course 500 metres from home which left Charlton to come home to claim the bronze medal. 
Gateshead's ever-reliable Conrad Franks finished fourth, Houghton's Luke Pickering, another junior athlete, finished fifth with Green, after retracing his steps, crossing the line in sixth place. 
With their three scorers inside the top four it was an easy team victory for Gateshead with Morpeth finish second and Tyne Bridge third.

Terry Scott led the Masters home (over-40) finishing in eighth place overall in an excellent time of 31:35. Second home was Birtley's Darren Purvis in 32:36 while Gosforth's Al Johnson completed the one-two-three in 33:04.
Master's winner Terry Scott
Sunderland came out on top in the team stakes led home by fourth-placed Chris Jackson with Scott's Tyne Bridge second and Birtley third.

Rowan Bennett took a number of major scalps to claim an extremely comfortable victory over two thee-kilometre laps. The Morpeth athlete tracked early leader Will Bellamy on the first circuit he but proved much the stronger on the second lap overhauling the leaders long before the finish. At the line, reached in 17:43, Bennett had a cushion of 38 seconds over Bellamy with Gateshead's Charlie Daley finishing in third place a further 26 seconds adrift. 
U17 Gold Rowan Bennett
Houghton, led by Bellamy, won the team race finishing ahead of Morpeth with Gateshead a close up third.
Start of the U17 Men's race
Chris Perkins, the recently-crowned North Eastern Counties cross-country champion, eased to victory over 3k in 10:25 after never being headed throughout. Morpeth's Joe Dixon was a delighted runner-up (10:42) with Blaydon's Will Collinson completing the podium places in 11:02.
Dixon led Morpeth to team success with Gosforth in second place and North Shields Poly third.
U15 Gold Chris Perkins
DARLINGTON'S Alex Boyer scored a notable victory winning over the same 3k course in 11:34. Gateshead's Theo Dragoi crossed the line in second place 12 seconds behind with North Shields Poly's Adam Feenan claiming the third-place medal. 
North Shields Poly with their three counters inside the top seven, won the team race by just two points from Gateshead with Morpeth holding off Durham City for third place.
U13 Gold Alex Boyer
THE 'Try Cross-Country' for this age group does not count towards Sherman Cup points. Nevertheless there was an excellent turnout over 1,500 metres. It turned into a Gateshead one-two with victory going to Alex Lienard who had nine seconds in hand over team-mate Harry Hunter with Morpeth's Rob Walton a further four seconds back in third place.

Ladies line up for the start of the Senior & Masters Women's race
THE smile told it all as Elswick's Amy Fuller held on to take The gold medal by the narrowest of margins. It certainly was an unexpected result for Fuller could only finish in 10th place in the county championships and she faced a number of rivals who finished ahead of her that day before Christmas. 

It wasn't surprising that Morpeth's
Catriona MacDonald cut out the early pace over two 4K laps for she was bronze medalist at Alnwick. However, the two were running side-by-side as they entered the second circuit but when they came back into view it was Newcastle athlete who was leading by about 20 metres. In the final field MacDonnell called on all her experience and gradually began to haul back the deficit. However, the line came too soon and it was the red and white vested Fuller who got the verdict, albeit by a matter of a stride or two. Gosforth's Helen Warburton, another athlete who finished ahead of Fuller at Alnwick, claimed third place ahead of fit again Josie Cram (Morpeth).

Senior Women Gold Amy Fuller
In a tight race for team honours Morpeth came out on top by just two points ahead of Jarrow & Hebburn with Sunderland finishing in third place.

AFTER Finishing in ninth place overall, Gillian Manford led Gateshead to a runaway victory in the team race helped by Kim Simpson and Jane Giles the Tynesiders totalled just 17 points. Elswick, led by second-placed Judith Nutt (who was third lady in the first ever Davison Shield fixture in 2002), finished runners-up on 38 with host club South Shields celebrating after finishing third. Alison Dargie (Tyne Bridge) was third individual.
Master's winner Gillian Manifold

IT turned into a great day for the Bennett family for they celebrated their second success of the day when Robyn came home in pole position to win by eight seconds ahead of Gateshead's Chloe Wellings. Third across the line was Emily Chong who was first under-17. 
U17&20 Women's winner Robyn Bennett
Houghton came out on top in the team stakes finishing ahead of Morpeth and Gateshead.

ALNWICK'S Millie Breese bounced back after being under the weather at the county championships to push the victor that day, Birtley's Katie Francis, into second place, seven seconds separating the duo at the line. North Shields Poly's Holly Waugh finished a further five seconds back in third place. 
The Poly claimed team success ahead of Blackhill Bounders and Durham City.
U15 Gold Millie Breese
DURHAM City's Charlotte Dillon produced one of the biggest winning margins of the day as she crossed the finish 28 seconds clear of county champion Zara Jones (Darlington) with Gateshead's Annabel Milburn 16 seconds back in third place. 
Gosforth, led home by fourth-placed Hannah Wightman, claimed team success finishing ahead of Elswick and Durham City.
U13 Gold Charlotte Dillon
SOPHIE Quinn, who contested the under-13 race at the county championships and picked up a medal, won comfortably by nine seconds from Durham City's Grace Carter and Katy Otterson ((North Shields Poly) who couldn't be separated by the timekeepers!

THANKS go to South Shields Harriers for hosting a superb day's sport once again and to all the marshals, technical officials and league officials for without them we wouldn't have a competition to be proud of.

Photos with thanks to Stuart Whitman, Adrian Hall & Robyn Bennett 

Thursday 2 January 2020

Sherman Cup 2020

Hi all. 

Happy New Year

Team managers,
online entries for Temple Park on Saturday 4th January are open and will close at noon on Friday 3rd.
Remember, don't register anyone as new who is already on the system.
If you need to transfer a runner from another club, e-mail and I'll do it.
If in doubt, ask.
We expect to have entries available on the day but try to register people in advance as it saves Vicki a lot of hassle on the day and saves you money.
Although runners will wear the same race number as for other Harrier League races, this is not a League race, it's the Sherman Cup (male)/Davison Shield (female).
There are no handicap packs and no pack promotions for this event.
All races are scratch races with all runners in a race setting off at the same time.
This is a one off annual competition across all age groups.
Cup/Shield points are awarded to clubs in all 5 age groups (U13, U15, U17/20, Senior and Vet) and the best club across all age groups wins the trophy.
You don't earn League points for this event but if you have a Harrier League race number for this year then you can still race and run off some Christmas calories.
There's no additional cost, it's included in your £3 paid for the race number for the season.
Just turn up at the start line in time for your race. There's no need to register again.
The timetable is the same order as usual for a Harrier League meeting BUT, because the Sherman Cup/Davison Shield have no packs, things will progress a little quicker than usual so keep an eye on events so you aren't late for the start of your race.

Timetable : START TIMES approx.

U11 Boys 1200
U11 Girls 1205
U17 Men 1215
U20/17 Women 1220
U15 Boys 1235
U15 Girls 1240
U13 Boys 1250

U13 Girls 1255
Sen & Vet W 1305
Sen & Vet M 1350

Please take note of the parking information posted by Ashleigh from host club, South Shields Harriers.
You can find this on Facebook:
Also check out the Harrier League Facebook page and the Harrier League blog from Vicki for any late information:


It's muddy!

Overspill is fairly overgrown and has many potholes, therefore parking is entirely at your own risk. The car park will be very busy with footballers and gymnasts as well as us, so will be probably full by midday. Car sharing is a must, and I would advise you to park sensibly and legally in the surrounding streets namely King George Road, Nevinson Avenue and Whiteleas, they are a very short walk to the start area.
Course is MUDDY! 😁 probably the most muddy Temple Park has ever been for our XC, again pics in the comments, please watch out for the giant puddles, the marshals will shout them out to you as you come to them.
Under no circumstances can you warm up on the course when the races have started, there is a massive rugby/football field to the left of the start area that you can use should you wish to.
Thanks all, see you tomorrow!

Here is the course map for this weekend's Sherman Cup fixture at Temple Park. . Start times are as usual (see )  Look forward to seeing everyone on Saturday. 
GENTLE REMINDER; This is the only event in the Start Fitness North Eastern Harrier League Calendar that is run off scratch - ie NO PACKS, Everyone goes off together in each race.

Parking is limited so please car share where possible. You will need your change handy as parking is not free inside Temple Park. Cost is 70p. It is council owned so they will be taking payment, or you can pay at the machine.

Race headquarters is on the course at the NEHL tent and numbers will be available for collection from 10:30, then on the course from 12:45.  Please arrive in enough time to get parked and collect your number (if you don't have one already).

Postcode for the event is NE34 8QN

A small reminder for closing dates for both the Northern and National XC Championships 

Northerns: Closing date for online entries – midnight 12th January 2020 NO LATE ENTRIES WILL BE ACCEPTED

Nationals: Closing date is Friday 10th January