Monday 11 October 2021

Jumping into XC with Julie - NEHL Druridge Bay

Jumping into XC with Julie

‘The Only Exercise I Get Is You’

‘Apart from at the supermarket, walking down the aisle,

Apart from when you’re angry and I’m trying not to smile,

Apart from maybe forefinger on the pizza that I dial,

The only exercise I get is you, you, you, you, you, you, you’

TM - Paul Heaton

Another glorious day, another cross-country fixture.  I’ve done Druridge Bay before (I’ve not done them all) so thought I knew what to expect.  Except no one had told me the Rocky Road cake promised after the race was replicated on the ground – more on that later.

Blyth Harriers’ turn to host the fixture – superb organisation with smiley parking attendants and a nice little 5 minute walk to the tents.  The sun was shining and everyone seemed in good spirits.  The crossing was manned to within an inch of its life (RUNNER COMING!!!!) and then suddenly, the ground underfoot changed and I was walking like I was stepping out of my nearest bar (not dissimilar to the previous night).  Our Chair had put her husband in charge of bringing the tent so that meant Saltwell Ladies got changed in full view of everyone as the A19 had scuppered it arriving on time. But he brought the Rocky Road, so was immediately forgiven.

NEHL Druridge Bay Senior Women's start
Senior Women's start

Kudos to the men who let the ladies go first in the loo queue so we didn’t miss our race, a quick stumble over the ground (again) and we were ready to go.  I don’t know what it is about a bunch of women (do the men do this?) but every time the starter gun goes off, we all go ‘wwwwoooooh!’ like we weren’t expecting it.  But what we weren’t expecting was that terrain.  OH MY GOD, that was horrific. Definitely Rocky Road ground; soft, lumpy, uneven but without the sweetness.  There was a constant commentary from the gaggle of women around me; ‘jees, I can’t walk on this!’, ‘it’s like running in heels’ and various other expletives which shall remain unprintable.

Julie jumping by Ian Harman
Jump picture No.2 - NEHL Druridge

Once up the hill and around the half mile lumpy bit, we then hit the nice gravel path, downhill for a bit of a breather and time to turn back towards the start; the view was spectacular and the marshals were fab.  Then it was back onto our favourite terrain for a drunken Bambi gait with a nice run past the portaloos (avert your eyes, ladies). The thought that we had to do it all again was high in my mind.  I’d been lapped by the fast and medium pack (obviously) way before this point and was wanting to hide or cry, or both.  I was with two fellow team members from Saltwell (Rosie and Lisa) and we were playing tag around the whole course; they made it look easy as were chatting and laughing while I was heavy breathing like a horse.  But the team spirit was high and kept us all going.  Finally, the last hill came into view and the downward loo bit was bliss; Rosie then showed true cross-country spirit by picking off 8 competitors in the last 200 metres; impressive!!! Lisa and I held on to finish together.  A quick change then it was time to watch the men.

Saltwell Ladies Team
Saltwell Ladies Team

My observations from today:

·         If you’re a spectator, cheer for EVERYONE please, it really does help keep us going

·         Druridge Bay will now be known as Rocky Road XC

·         If you have a song in your head at the beginning, it will likely keep you company throughout the whole race (see title – off to see them at the Arena tonight!)

·         XC is hell on earth, but the spirit of the competition is large.  If there’s ever a time you’re going to question your middle-aged crisis’ choices, it’s during these races.  And that was in the sun

·         My personal challenge to score another ‘jump’ picture remains intact…


My day was rounded off with a snooze and then spending the whole night complaining of how knackered I was and how much I hated it (and getting the cake recipe sent to me). 

Can’t wait for the next one!


Julie Schneider
Saltwell Harriers

Pics by Ian Harman & Stuart Whitman

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