Sunday 5 December 2021

NECAA XC Championships 2021

Thank you for entering this year`s championships hosted by Sedgefield Harriers, with the support of Start Fitness, Sedgefield Harriers, Durham County Council, Hardwick Hall Hotel, Sedgefield Cricket Club.

IMPORTANT UPDATE – revised directions and parking arrangements for the Championships.

Parking arrangements for Saturday`s cross country championships will now be slightly different from what was originally advertised. Please check and circulate the updated directions. The good news is that the main car park has a large capacity, is slightly closer to the event site, and is very easy to find. However, in light of another event that is taking place at Hardwick Hall Hotel, there may be a fair bit of traffic around at certain points during the day, so please allow for that when planning your journey. To offset additional costs that are now being incurred, we are asking for a voluntary contribution of £1 per vehicle, which will be collected in `honesty` buckets by volunteers as you exit the car park on foot towards the course. Thank you. 

Getting to the event free car park (sat nav - TS21 2EH):

From A1(M) North/South

Exit at J60, heading east towards Hartlepool/Teesside on A689. At next roundabout turn left onto A177 for Coxhoe, follow directions to Hardwick Park

From A19 North/South

Exit at A689 junction (Wolviston), heading west towards Bishop Auckland on A689. Go straight ahead on A689 at next 4 roundabouts. At next roundabout turn right onto A177 for Coxhoe, you will be directed to Hardwick Park car park (chargeable)

From A177 Stockton

Turn left at Sedgefield (Travelodge) roundabout onto A689. At next roundabout turn right onto A177 for Coxhoe, you will be directed to Hardwick Park car park (chargeable)

Club tent drop off: Drop off zone is turn right at roundabout before hotel (sat nav – opposite TS21 2DN). After drop off you will be directed to the parking.

U11s                1 short lap (green)

U13s                1 big lap

U15s               2 medium laps

U17M             2 big laps

U17/20W        1 medium + 1 big lap

U20M             1 medium + 2 big laps

SW                  1 medium + 2 big laps

SM                  4 big laps



U11B  10.35                                       U11G  10.45

U13B  11.00                                       U13G  11.15

U15B  11.30                                       U15G  11.45

U17M 12.05                                       U17/20W 12.25

U20M 12.45                                       SM      1.15

SW       2.10              


Race entries can be seen on the SPORTSOFT 2021 RACE RESULTS website.

RESULTS – Online asap after each race.


COVID, please follow any current Government and England Athletics restrictions in place, including social distancing. Hand sanitisers will be available in various locations on site.


TEAM MANAGERS ONLY can collect club numbers from Sedgefield Cricket Club. Team managers when collecting race packs please wear face masks.

Please read and follow tent drop off instructions.

TOILET FACILITIES will be situated in East Park. REFRESHMENTS will be available and START FITNESS will be in attendance.

FIRST AID and a lost children area will be at the marquee.

Please can all clubs ensure the venue is left LITTER FREE.

Presentations will be made  shortly after each race, individual medal winners will report immediately at the end of their race and team presentations during the following race. Teams please listen for announcements.



Club vests must be worn (5 3)

Numbers worn as issued, not folded, cut or mutilated (5 9)

Headphones of any description are not permitted in any cross country event (5 6)

Spitting at any time is not permitted, Conduct Warning or Disqualification (18.5).

All competitors are requested to complete the medical template on the reverse of their race number.



Club secretaries should forward the contact details: name, address, email, mobile number, of the first 10 in each race (first 15 senior men and women) and any athlete of county standard who missed the championships, before December 31st to the team managers:

Men: Stewy Bell, 12 Lincoln Road, Moorside Consett, DH8 8EB, Tel: 07525484605, email:

Women: Lynn Harding, 3 Bramble Rise, Sunderland, SR3 2FW,  07773 140617,  


PLEASE NOTE THE ABOVE INFORMATION IS FOR RECORDS ONLY. THE FIRST 10/15 FINISHERS ARE NOT GUARANTEED SELECTION. THOSE SELECTED WILL BE NOTIFIED FOLLOWING A SELECTION MEETING IN JANUARY AFTER THE NORTHERN CHAMPIONSHIPS AT PONTEFRACT. Current form at the Northern Championships be taken into consideration. If athletes are unable to run the Northerns, all other cross country races will be taken into consideration, if the selectors are informed.


2021 TROPHIES should be returned, cleaned and engraved, to the presentation area on the course.

The NECAA welcomes bids for future championships (contact the secretary). The 2022 venue will be announced on December 11th. 


Please email under 11 entries asap, I need name/club/date of birth.  Entries cost £2 payable on the day.  Runners must be ages 9 or 10 on the day



Tuesday 30 November 2021

NEHL Aykley Heads Race Report by Bill McGuirk


COMETH the Man (and Women and Children), Cometh the Hour was the theme for the latest round of the Start Fitness North East Harrier League.

Ponteland's Laura Choake

An eleventh-hour decision to go ahead after Storm Arwen had put the fixture in doubt came as a welcome relief to hosting clubs’ Derwentside and Elvet Striders who had worked tirelessly leading up to the day in their efforts to give the region’s cross-country enthusiasts an opportunity on a course which rumours have it will not be available in the future.

After a dawn conveyance of the course in freezing temperatures by Mark Davinson and NEHL committee members John Stephens and Micky Baker it was decided that despite a fallen tree, the terrain, tough at the best of times, was safe for action to take place.

And while there were a number who felt it was the wrong decision because of the severe weather conditions, for many the decision proved a welcome cross-country fix with over 800 competitors facing the starter for the nine-race programme.

Not surprisingly, entries were considerably down amongst the younger age groups compared to earlier fixtures but the two senior races saw over 600 in total toe the line.

The sub-zero temperature and the occasional snow shower didn’t seem to subdue those seniors who made a bee-line for their club tent after crossing the finish to take in a welcome hot drink and the usual array of cakes!

Officials in the snow shower


Senior Men's start

MORPETH duo Finn Brodie and Alex Brown set their stall our from the off with the duo quickly opening up a big advantage over their rivals as they battled their way over a now churned up course.

In an attempt to cut back 2min 35secs start fellow Morpeth athlete Sam Hancox led the charge from the medium pack while the highly-competitive fast-pack waited a further 2min 40 secs before getting underway.

Morpeth's Finn Brodie

Behind the leaders came a group of Durham University runners together with Tynedale’s Charlie Daley who all started from the slow pack. Brodie and Brown ran shoulder-to-shoulder throughout the first of the three circuits until the former Gosforth and Tyne Bridge athlete sensed that Brown was starting to struggle slightly around the half-way point where he managed to open a gap of 15 metres or so and that’s the way it stayed until the finish with the gap extending to around 80 metres at the line.

Finn Brodie & Alex Brown

After rushing to retrieve some warm clothes I caught up with Brodie who said he was more than happy with his performance and was honest enough to say that it could have been much closer as Alex had to stop to put a shoe back on which was at a critical part of the race.

Not only was Brodie rewarded with the winner’s medal, more importantly his time of 26:07 proved to be the fastest overall time of the day. Luke Pettit was the pick of the university students to finish in third place as Hancox moved through the field to finish in 12th position one spot ahead of leading fast pack runner, Tyneside-based Bristol and West’s Jarlath McKenna whose second-fastest time of the day behind Brodie managed to reverse the Heaton Memorial 10k places with Birtley’s Adrian Bailes.

Durham Uni's Luke Pettit

In the race for team honours Morpeth came out on top of Division One by eight points from Birtley with Sunderland in third place. Durham City topped Division Two ahead of Jesmond Joggers and Elswick while Division Three current table-toppers Sedgefield were first with Derwentside edging out Tynedale for second place.


Senior Women's start

IT WAS the white-vested Durham University duo Emma Bramley and Hannah Rayden to the fore throughout the two-lap contest with the pair setting off 2min 25secs ahead of the medium pack and 5:15 ahead of the fast pack.

Durham Uni runners Emma Bramley & Hannah Rayden

And it was the former who prevailed as she strode home a comfortable winner ahead of her team-mate by over two minutes as Tynedale’s Annette Quaid, winner of the previous fixture at Lambton Estate, worked her way through from the medium pack to complete the onetwo-three. In-form Catriona MacDonald (Morpeth) fastest in her previous starts at Wrekenton and Lambton, once again was quickest on the course to finish in fourth spot from the fast pack.

Catriona MacDonald, Morpeth Harriers

MacDonald’s Morpeth team-mate Jane Hodgson despite a tumble at the start, was second fastest overall with Bramley third quickest. Despite numerous members out marshalling the course, Elvet Striders still had enough strength in numbers to head the Division One team section finishing ahead of Elswick and Morpeth while in Division Two Tynedale came out on top ahead of Claremont who claimed second place ahead of Blaydon on countback. Meanwhile, in Division Three Stockton Striders accounted for Blackhill Bounders with Crook claiming third place.


Under-17 Men

U17 men's fast pack

Houghton’s Brandon Pye made a welcome return to competition and his first outing of the season in the under-17 men’s race proved to be a double success for not only did he lead throughout his time of 15min 53secs proved to be the quickest overall.

Houghton Harrier - Brandon Pye

Pye quickly took up an early lead and was never headed as he took full advantage over his rivals and the 2min 50secs start over the fast pack. Morpeth’s Joe Dixon and Ethan Bond (Gosforth) also running from the slow pack claimed second and third places while a cautious Chris Perkins (Birtley) moved through to eighth place from the fast pack with the second fastest time behind Pye. Once again a strong Morpeth squad came out on top in the league standings finishing ahead of Gosforth and Durham City.

Under-17/20 Women

Durham University claimed another individual victory as slow pack runner Amy Richards came home over a minute clear of Gateshead’s Innes Curran who worked her way through from a 1min 25sec penalty to claim the runner-sup spot ahead of Isabel Lloyd, also of Durham University. Morpeth’s Millie Breese was the fastest under-17 on the course working her way through the field to finish in fourth place from a handicap of 2:50 with an actual time of 21:05 while fastest under-20 was Chester-le-Street’s Emily Chong with 21:46.

Durham Uni's Amy Richards

Millie Breese - Morpeth Harriers

The university were comfortable winners of the team contest finishing ahead of Morpeth and North Shields Poly.

Under-15 Boys 

U15 boys fast pack

Birtley’s Thomas Francis denied Phoenix Flyers a first victory as he held on to win by just four seconds to push Patrick McCoy into second place. The duo held off the fast-finishing fast pack runner Ben Sproats (North Shields Poly) who finished a further three seconds adrift in third spot. Second and third quickest overall were Morpeth pair Oliver Calvert and Oliver Tomlinson who finished fourth and fifth respectively. Morpeth came out on top in the team stakes finishing ahead of Birtley and Houghton.

Birtley AC's Thomas Francis

Under-15 Girls

Birtley’s Daisy Graham (slow pack) made all the running to win by just four seconds as Durham City’s Charlotte Dillon clawed back agonisingly short of the 1:40 handicap to claim the runners-up award. Chester-le-Street’s Ella Jones finished in third place while second fastest on the course was Annie Hutchinson (Gosforth) who finished just outside the medals in fourth position. Tynedale, with Emma Nicholson in seventh place leading them home, came out on top in the league placings ahead of Gosforth.

Daisy Graham, Birtley AC

Charlotte Dillon, Durham City

Under-13 Boys

U13 boys in full stride

The closest finish of the day saw Tynedale’s Morgan Vincent hang on by just one second as Durham City’s William Jardine closed him down from a 1:40 handicap. To make it a good day for the Phoenix Flyers club, Ewan McCoy claimed the third-place award. Second quickest on the course was Birtley’s Noah Williamson. Only one team managed to close-in in the threeto-score team contest with Durham City claiming the honours.

Tynedale's Morgan Vincent

Under-13 Girls

The contest turned into a fast-pack parade as all the medallists defied a 1:40 penalty. Katy Otterson (North Shields Poly) was first home finishing ahead of Birtley’s Niamh Phillipson and Grace Carter (Durham City) after Morpeth’s Charlotte Marshall, Heaton’s Mary Parkin and Durham City’s Grace Walker had cut out the early pace. Durham City came out on top in the team stakes with Prudhoe Plodders celebrating second place.

Katy Otterson, North Shields Poly

Under-11 Boys

Birtley’s Ed Moon once again claimed the honours with a 16-seconds victory over Elswick’s Nicholas Surtees-Brown with Crook’s Matty Richardson claiming third place just four seconds further adrift.

Birtley's Ed Moon

Under-11 Girls

Another repeat performance by Birtley twins Nell and Kitty Graham with the former once again coming out on top by five seconds. Alnwick’s Emilia Waugh claimed third place with Birtley showing strength in depth in this category as Olivia Murphy, Poppie Phillipson and Izzy Hall finished fourth, fifth and sixth respectively.

Birtley's Nell & Kitty Graham

**Once again it can’t be stressed strongly enough for the excellent work done by the volunteer HL committee, technical officials and all the marshalls who, on one of the coldest days on record, were there at their posts all day long to give competitors the chance of a cross-country run out. Also thanks go to the first aid staff who fortunately had only a few minor problems to deal with.

**The HL takes a break until the turn of the year when the focus for the fifth fixture will be

Thornley Hall Farm so, until then keep safe, fit and illness free.


Many thanks to NEHL Photographers: Stuart Whitman, Geoff Fenwick & Paddy Dinsmore

Monday 22 November 2021

NEHL Aykley Heads 27th November 2021

Hi folks,

It's on. Course is fine, there's a tree down but the course has been rerouted.
Wallis has arrived from Tow Law with the loos, and there's no problem with parking.
Route travelling from A167 is fine, and the wind will drop some more by midday.
As ever, make your own decisions on whether to travel or not, but the event is on should you want to take part.
There may be mud

Important Information on Parking, Travel, Registration etc. for NEHL Aykley Heads

Getting there

Directions to County Hall (postcode: DH1 5TP)
County Hall is a major landmark in Durham and many of you will already know where it is and how to get there. There are frequent trains to Durham from Newcastle and Darlington. The station is around half a mile from the course (see link to map) please use public transport where possible!

If you must come by car then directions are as follows:

Travelling south (e.g. from Newcastle):
Use the A.1m and turn off at Junction 62 (signposted for Durham & Sunderland). At the top of the slip road turn right at the roundabout joining the A.690 into Durham. At the next roundabout (where the dual carriageway ends) stay on the A.690 & follow signs to City Centre & Consett (straight over). At the next roundabout stay on the A.690 & follow signs for Crook, Consett & County Hall (straight over - but get in the outside lane). At the next traffic lights turn right signposted for Consett, Chester-Le- St & County Hall. Turn right at the next roundabout into County Hall – you’ve arrived!

Travelling north (e.g. from Darlington):
Use the A.1m and turn off at Junction 62 (signposted for Durham & Sunderland). At the top of the slip road turn left at the roundabout joining the A.690 into Durham. At the next roundabout (where the dual carriageway ends) stay on the A.690 & follow signs to City Centre & Consett (straight over). At the next roundabout stay on the A.690 & follow signs for Crook, Consett & County Hall (straight over - but get in the outside lane). At the next traffic lights turn right signposted for Consett, Chester-Le- St & County Hall. Turn right at the next roundabout into County Hall – you’ve arrived!

Travelling west (e.g. from Sunderland)
Use the A.690 from Sunderland or from the A.19 for Durham. At the junction of the A.690 and A.1m go straight over staying on the A.690 into Durham. At the next roundabout (where the dual carriageway ends) stay on the A.690 & follow signs to City Centre & Consett (straight over). At the next roundabout stay on the A.690 & follow signs for Crook, Consett & County Hall (straight over - but get in the outside lane). At the next traffic lights turn right signposted for Consett, Chester-Le- St & County Hall. Turn right at the next roundabout into County Hall – you’ve arrived!

Travelling East (e.g. from Crook)
Use the A.690 from Crook to Durham. At the Neville’s Cross traffic lights turn left onto the A.167. At the first roundabout turn right (4th exit) following signs for City Centre. At the next roundabout go straight over. At the next roundabout go straight over into County Hall – you’ve arrived!

Race Parking is at Durham County Hall car park only. It’s free and only 400m from the start – please do not park anywhere else, please do not try to park closer to the course as you will be charged or worse and we could lose this venue!  There will be plenty of parking for everybody at County Hall but please car share and OBEY THE CAR PARK MARSHALS’ INSTRUCTIONS!  

Officials Parking This will be on the tennis courts adjacent to the new Police HQ. Go north from the County Hall roundabout on the B.6532, turn right at the next roundabout, straight over at the next roundabout & then follow the signs.

Tent drop off We have a tent drop off point adjacent to the course. Go north from the County Hall roundabout on the B.6532, turn right at the next roundabout, straight over at the next roundabout & then follow the signs. Only use this if your tent is very heavy! There is absolutely no parking for competitors here and it is not a drop off point for latecomers. Tents must be left with the tent drop off marshals and competitors return to County Hall to park.

Registration is in the NEHL Tent close to the start/finish

Toilets - portable loos close to the race start area on the old tennis courts.

Please do not warm up on the course (narrow bits) and don't take shortcuts damaging the tape

Race HQ will be the NEHL tent, collect any pre-entries there, and call in with any queries. Entries will close midday on Friday 26th.

Never re-register someone as new who is already on the system.
I repeat this frequently but someone always does it.

If in doubt, you can look up who is registered on the list of runners:
or you can e-mail and we can check it.
Running in the wrong pack means automatic disqualification.

IMPORTANT - All age groups apart from Under 11 must be affiliated to a club, we do not allow unattached runners.

Pre entries will cost £3, Lost or replacement numbers are £5

Georgia flies through 


This year there are 6 sets of numbers across the categories.

Under 11 have Yellow numbers
Under 13 have Blue numbers
Under 15 have Green numbers
Under 17/20 have Purple numbers
Senior Men have White numbers
Senior Women have Orange numbers

also in the bottom right of each number is category code:
U11, U13, U15, U17&20, M, W
On the back of each number is your chip.

RACE ORDER & TIMES for the coming season
1200 Under 11 Boys (1.5k)
1205 Under 11 Girls (1.5k)
1215 Under 17 Men (1.5 laps approx. 5k)
1220 Under 20 & Under 17 Women (1.5 laps approx 5k)
1235 Under 15 Boys (1 lap approx. 2 miles - 3.2k)
1240 Under 15 Girls (1 lap approx. 2 miles - 3.2k)
1250 Under 13 Boys (1 lap approx. 2 miles - 3.2k)
1255 Under 13 Girls (1 lap approx. 2 miles - 3.2k)
1305 Senior Women (2 laps approx. 4 miles - 6.4k)
1350 Senior Men (3 laps approx. 6 miles - 9.6k)

Age restrictions as follows:

Under 11 - must be age 9 on the day of competition
Under 13 - must be 11 on 31st August 2021.  U11s turning 11 during the season may move up to the U13s
Under 15 - must be 13 on 31st August 2021.
Under 17 men - must be 15 on 31st August 2021.
Under 17 & 20 women - must be 15 on 31st August 2021.
Senior Men - must be 17 on 31st August 2021.
Senior Women - must be 20 on 31st August 2021.

Masters men aged 65 and slower men may (if they wish) run in the 2 lap Senior Women's race, they register as per normal in the men's race, then come to race hq for a replacement number.  Masters wishing to do this must stay in the 2 lap race all season.

More mud on the bottom path

Covid-19 guidance Part of the granting of our event license is based on application of current guidance provided by and also that provided England Athletics ( ) Prior to the event when final instruction / information is sent to participating clubs (e-mail, social media) the following points will be encouraged:
  • Use hand gels / cleaning materials available at the toilets
  • Wear a mask when not running / in areas where there are larger numbers of people
  • Bring own hand gel and use frequently
  • Take 2 x LFT tests in the week leading to the event
  • Completed vaccination programme where possible / applicable
The following is mandatory: Do not attend the event if you currently display any symptoms associated with COVID-19

Monday 8 November 2021

NEHL Lambton Action from NERunner Simon Allen

From the NERunner You tube channel This episode sees Simon run the Lambton Castle Cross Country, part of the North Eastern Harrier League 2021/22 season. It's approximately 10km in all, over 3 laps. It's not an easy one, as you'll see, but there are plenty of people from clubs across north east England, out enjoying the event.

If you're a club runner in the North East you can get in on the action too.  Next fixture is NEHL Aykley Heads in Durham on November 30th.  The course is a pretty challenging hilly mudfest - perfect xc terrain.

Sunday 7 November 2021

English National XC Relays Report by Bill McGuirk


IT WASN’T a sort of day expected as a happy coach of athletes, parents and supporters set off at the crack of dawn from their North Tyneside base for the trip to Mansfield’s Berry Hill Park for the annual English National Cross-Country Relay Championships. With all the relevant health forms all filled in and the usual informative! quiz sorted by Mell Carr, everything was in order for the club’s first trip away since Covid. However, after a stopover at Wetherby Services, things started to go badly wrong when, after re-joining the A1 and just half-way into the journey, the coach came to a halt on the hard shoulder and eventually couldn’t go any further. 

So, with the time of the first event in Nottinghamshire rapidly approaching was it time to panic? Certainly not especially with longterm member Vaughan Hemy at the forefront of operations. 

“Yes, it was a nightmare to begin with not knowing how long we would be stuck,’’ said Hemy. “However, one of our youngsters suggested trying to get in touch with Gosforth Harriers who were also travelling to Mansfield and luckily they were not far behind and, after contacting them, they said they had six seats spare so we quickly sorted out who was competing first on the programme and set them off on their journey with Elswick’s Jan Heslop agreeing to sort out their bib numbers on arrival. 

“After that short relief it was agreed that if the rest of the party was to make it to Mansfield it would have to be by taxi so everyone else carefully walked back to the services where a fleet of taxis were ordered which meant we could eventually continue on our journey. 

“It certainly wasn’t the best of preparations for athletes at a National competition but at the end of the day everyone made it to the venue in time for their event which certainly didn’t look promising a couple of hours earlier. “I’m extremely grateful to everyone who did what they could to get our athletes on the starting line, and a huge thank you to Gosforth Harriers and those who looked after our athletes before we managed to get there.’’ 


Senior Men (4x5k Relay) 

GATESHEAD earned the region’s bragging rights by finishing two places ahead of rivals Morpeth thanks to one of the fastest legs of the day by Calum Johnson. It didn’t look that way at the completion of the first leg as Cameron Boyek had Morpeth in 14th place while Gateshead (Matthew Linsley) were 52 seconds adrift back in 51st place. However, things changed significantly on the second stage which saw Johnson weave his way through the traffic ahead to reach the halfway changeover point in ninth place. 

Morpeth’s Matthew Briggs lost just one place before passing on to Phil Winkler to contest the third leg. Gus Withers, on the third stage for Gateshead, lost one place to leave Gateshead in 10th position going into the final leg as Winkler dropped the Northumbrians back to 17th. On the last leg Lucas Sutherland managed to bring Gateshead home in 21st place with Jordan Scott crossing the finishing line two places behind with nine seconds separating the two clubs at the finish. 

Other NE clubs who contested the event included Houghton, with Cameron Allan their quickest finished 83rd; Gateshead B were two places back in 85th with James Cripwell their best; Gosforth finished 107th with Jonny Stephen their fastest while there were incomplete teams for Gosforth B and North Shields Poly, with Hemy, after the trails and tribulations of the journey, one of their members!

North Shields Poly's Vaughan Hemy

Senior Women (3x3k Relay) 

AFTER an absorbing contest just a couple of metres separated North Shields Poly and Elswick at the conclusion of the three-stage contest. Elswick (Judith Nutt) were in 69th place at the first changeover with the Poly (Carla Maley) one place behind. On the penultimate leg Becki Coleman moved the Poly into 61st with Elswick (Andrea Banner) four places behind. 

On the last leg Joanna Brown managed to close the gap on her NE rival but Michelle Thompson managed to hold on at the line by the narrowest of margins to come home in 57th place with Elswick one place behind. 

Junior Men (3x3k Relay) 

GATESHEAD, with the trio of Luca Minale, David Race and Ben Waterfield, finished in 25th place with Race producing the fourth fastest time on leg two. Houghton finished in 42nd position with Will Bellamy, Ciaran Lines and in-form Chris Coulson while the Poly finished with an incomplete team. 

Under-17 Women (3x2.5k Relay) 

MORPETH, with the team of Caitlan Flanagan, Abigail Leiper and Millie Breese, finished in 13th place with Breese improving 21 places on the last leg. North Shields Poly ‘A’ finished 19th, 22 seconds adrift of Morpeth while Gateshead were 35th, the Poly ‘B’ team 50th and Gosforth 51st. 

Morpeth's Under 17s

Under-17 Men (3x3k Relay) 

MORPETH are exceptionally strong at this age group and the trio of William De Vere Owen, Ryan Davies and Bertie Marr finishing in 12th place with rivals Gosforth finishing 21st while the Northumbrians’ ‘B’ team finished in 26th place out of the 62 teams which closed in. 

Under-15 Girls (3x2k Relay) 

THIS was the region’s biggest entry with five teams finishing the event which was a huge success especially for the Elswick club. The trio of Poppy Old, Poppy Wilde and Lucy Milburn finished in 12th place with the club’s second string of E Blight, S Creighton and I Russell coming home in 37th place. Sandwiched between the two were Gosforth 16th and Gateshead 23rd while Gateshead B were 39th out of 77 finishers. 

Under-15 Boys (3x2k Relay) 

Despite their troubles along the way, North Shields Poly’s managed to field two complete teams with their A team of B Sproats, D Watson and B Scantlebury finishing in 25th place while brothers Ben, Matthew and Jonathan Maley came home in 58th place for the B team. Morpeth Harriers O Tomlinson, E Mavir and O Calvert came home in 33rd spot, and Elliot Kelso, Bailey Shore and Sam Allison finished in 50th position for Elswick Harriers.

Under-13 Girls (3x2k Relay) 

MORPETH, with E Tomlinson, M Roche and M Potrac, finished in 46th place while NSP finished with an incomplete team. 

Under-13 Boys (3x2k Relay) 

POSSIBLY the Poly’s best result of the day as the trio of Oscar Makepeace, Charlie Furness and Adam Feenan, finished in 12th place. At the first changeover, Oscar was 27th, on leg two Charlie moved through to 20th before Adam, with a top 10 overall fastest time of the day, brought the club home just 33 seconds outside a podium place. 


Thursday 4 November 2021

20 years of the NEHL. Looking at participation levels.

 Hi Folks, Our thought for this season is: Just how big can we go?

Many of you, actually a massive majority, will have taken up cross country in the last ten years.  Our figures for participation took some massive leaps forward when the region and country as a whole were inspired by the London 2012 Olympics, and the introduction of parkrun to the region in 2009.  Many people who hadn't ran before took their first steps at parkrun, and some of these new runners have filtered through to join clubs.

There were always a great many unattached runners taking part in the regions road races, you just have to look at numbers in the Great North Run, and the Blaydon Race to see plenty of non club athletes, but they don't or rather; were not allowed to take part in track or cross country events.

This kept numbers in the NEHL relatively low by modern standards.  

I love a good graph.

So here is a great opportunity to chuck one out here.

Imagine you're standing in the start line at Wrekenton, or Lambton, or Druridge Bay in 2021.  If you're a man, you're one of an average of 519 other guys.  As a woman you're one in 420ish.

In the year 2000, if you stood on the start line at Bedewell Park in Jarrow you'd be standing with 24 other women, or 248 men.  

The improvement in numbers in the seniors since 2000 is staggering.  The juniors numbers remain pretty stable.

Average participation in NEHL fixtures by year 2000-2021

Participation has risen steadily, then absolutely sky rocketed in in 2013.  The orange line on the graph is average female turn out at an NEHL fixture, it actually mirrors men's participation levels pretty well.  We've had a bit of a dip following the loss of the 2020 season due to covid, but the numbers are climbing again.

Those are the average figures, there's a bit of variation fixture to fixture, the results from the last 13 years look more like this

Actual participation in NEHL Fixtures by individuals 2008-2021

and here's a view without the individual finishers here (it's a little easier to look at on a mobile)

Actual participation in NEHL Fixtures by individuals 2008-2021

You can see the trend upwards from 2008, peaking at Wrekenton in 2019 with 666 finishers in the men's race and 499 finishers in the women's race.  Yes they have dropped post-pandemic, but they are climbing again.

Here are the actual numbers for finishers by race venue from 2008

Participation by venue 2014-15 season to current season
Participation by venue 2008-09 season to 2013-14 season

So, how does that stack up versus numbers registered.  Well that has changed quite a lot.  It used to be that clubs paid a flat fee to enter their *whole* team, so it was £50 regardless of if you entered 30 runners, or 300 runners.  This meant that some larger clubs were entering everyone on the books to take part, regardless of whether they had any intention of taking part.  

This changed when the league started to charge by the individual.  So while it may have seemed initially that numbers were going to drop because of clubs having to pay, they numbers of people finishing actually continued to rise.

Total registered athletes vs total numbers of participants in the NEHL

Ok so yes, bare with me, it's a big chart.

It shows how many runners clubs registered, vs how many actually completed at least one race in the season (slightly less because the M65s who run the the SW race are not counted). The bottom part of the chart is the percentage of runners taking part who have been issued a race number.

We've hit over 80% participation for the first time ever (for the records we have) in the under 13 girls age category this season.  the figures in yellow are over 70% participation.  I would absolutely love us to hit over 70% in every category.  Can we do it?  Maybe.  

The key categories to look at improving turn out are the men and under 17&20 women.  Clubs - if you can get the guys who haven't yet ran a fixture to turn out for at least one, or better still two, it would be brilliant.  

More info you can pull from these numbers is just how many master's men and women are taking part in these fixtures.  There is a marked difference between the 20-35s and the 35+ runners.  We are living longer, and our running careers are lasting longer.  There are folks with running careers spanning the decades.  As it happens looking at our very first graph today:  both Fiona Shenton and Jan Young were on the start lines at Lambton last weekend, and at Bedewell in 2000, they build those Elvet ladies to last.  

You could also say, well, we have people coming through who are new to running, they don't have the wear and tear on their legs that the mega-mileage runners of the 90s had, but there are still a great number of those very runners still taking part.

So, can we still improve participation?


There's a massive untapped resource of folks running parkrun every weekend who would love to run cross country (honestly).  Everything from juniors through to masters, new runners, people who ran back in the day, people who have never ran before but who fancy a challenge.  Literally anyone who's ever ran Windy Nook parkrun lol,  a tough mudder, or a 10k trail race can do xc.

It's not just about quantity either, though of course my main aim is to get as many ladies turning out as the fellas, there are some fast people who could really benefit their local teams.

Your North Eastern Harrier League is either the largest or second largest league in the country depending on how you look at the numbers taking part (total number of fixtures etc), this is down to the clubs and the league working together to make these events brilliant and getting the word out to people that they can do it.

You can be a cross country runner.


Vicki Thompson