Tuesday 4 February 2020

NEMAA XC Championships report


AROUND 200 competitors made their way to a windy Cramlington Nature Reserve to contest the latest edition of the North East Masters Cross-Country Championships hosted superbly by Blyth Running Club.

The course, set out by Dave Kitchen and his team, was, due to the drying wind, firm for most part with a ‘few’ muddy patches which proved to be to the Masters liking.

The two-race programme opened with the combined women and over-65 men and it was the women who showed the way with the first nine home from a field of 84 finishers.

Morpeth’s Jane Hodgson was making her debut in the championships and she made it a winning one coming home ahead of other first-timers Gillian Manford (Gateshead) and Jarrow and Hebburn’s Alexis Dodd. Jane, led throughout and at the completion of the first of two 3k circuits had a lead of around 12 seconds over the Tynesider with Alexis a similar position in third place then a chasing group which included Wendy Chapman (Sunderland Strollers), Wallsend’s Sarah Robson and South Shields’ Francis Dembele. Jane extended her advantage on the second lap to come home 30 seconds ahead of Gillian with Alexis a further 52 seconds back in third place. 

Race 1 winner Jane Hodgson

2nd place Gillian Manford

3rd place Alexis Dodd

Wendy was next home in fourth place to claim the over-50 title – she was runner-up last year behind Jane Giles who had to be content with the second place medal on this occasion. First over-40 was North Shields Poly’s Becky Coleman who finished in ninth place overall while Blaydon’s Claire Collinson headed the over-45 section by just eight seconds from Gosforth’s Silvia Moffatt, the duo finishing in 12th and 13th place respectively. 

Heather Robinson (Jarrow and Hebburn) retained her over-50 crown finishing ahead of Darlington’s Sue Phillips while Gateshead’s over-60 champion Maggie Loraine had to be content with second place this time round after Sunderland Stroller Dawn Elliott headed her by just five seconds. The over-65 gold medal went to Jan Young of Elvet Striders.

Gateshead, with Kim Simpson and Lisa Atkinson backing up Gillian Manford, won the 35-44 team award finishing ahead of Jarrow and Hebburn and Sunderland while Claremont were successful in the 45-54 category finishing ahead of Tyne Bridge and North Shields Poly.

Morpeth’s David Nicholson was first home among the men competitors finishing in ninth place overall. David finished just under a minute clear of a Blaydon trio, David Graham, Alan Storey and Stuart Beryl. Harry Matthews (Elswick) was the leading over-70 home with Percy Parkin (Crook) claiming the over-75 title.

Eighty-two-year-old Walter Ryder made his annual pilgrimage from the Scottish Highlands and it was once again a winning trip as he retained his over-80 title comfortably with Heaton’s Reg Checkley taking the runners-up award.

The oldest athlete on view was Darlington’s Ian Barnes at 86-years-old who has been competing for around 70 years and is still as enthusiastic as ever – if only I!!!

Blaydon won the team race ahead of Morpeth with Heaton in third place.

Darlington's Ian Barnes - 86 years young

Morpeth's Walter Ryder

The men’s race over three laps was a success for Sunderland’s Andy Powell who was never headed after taking an early lead on the first circuit which saw him 12 seconds clear entering the penultimate lap. Tyneside-based Bristol and West athlete Jariath McKenna was in second place a similar distance ahead of a group which included Elvet duo Steven Jackson and lan Mirley, reigning champion Conrad Franks and Mark Anderson of Sunderland Strollers. Going into the final lap Andy had increased his advantage over Jariath as Conrad began to pull away from the casing pack. Andy continued in pole position in the run to the line as Conrad made huge inroads into his lead but the line came too soon and he was still 17 seconds adrift at the line. 

Andy Powell battles the wind

Birtley’s Darren Purvis was first over-40 home finishing in seventh place, one place ahead of Darlington’s Wesley Tarn while team-mate John Clifford, 14th overall, was first over-45.
Dave Moir (Tyne Bridge) improved this time round to claim the over-50 title, finishing 18 seconds clear of Morpeth’s Lee Bennett with last year’s champion, Sunderland’s Tim Field, finishing in third place. Steve Everett (Durham City), who finished 25th  overall, claimed the over-55 title with Paul Merrison (Sunderland) retaining his over-60 crown.

Sunderland came out on top in the 25-44 team race finishing ahead of Elvet Striders and Gateshead while Morpeth won the 45-54 category finishing ahead of Elvet and Sunderland.

*THE North East Masters AA are grateful to Blyth Running Club for hosting their championships and to all the marshals who did a superb job in testing conditions and to the first aiders and anyone else who had an input in making it a highly-successful championships.

Bill McGuirk
NEHL Reporter

Stuart Whitman
David Aspin

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