Monday 25 October 2021

Start Fitness Northern Athletics Cross-Country Relay Championships 2021


NORTH EAST representation was at a premium for the Start Fitness-supported Northern Athletics Cross-Country Relay Championships in Sheffield’s Graves Park. However, for one of the few teams who made the trip to South Yorkshire the trip was certainly worthwhile. 

Birtley youngsters have certainly been in top form so far in the under-11 contests at the North East Harrier League and they continued to carry that form over against Northern oposition by leading throughout the 3x1,500m contest. 

Kitty Graham set the pattern from the off going into the lead and by the first changeover (5:23) had 17-second cushion over another NE team, Allerton, whose Connie Wilford ran 5:40, a time which proved to be the fourth fastest of the day overall. Izzy Hall took over from Kitty and her 6:03 stint showed she had added another two seconds to the advantage as Sale moved into second place ahead of Allerton (Abigail Ferguson). 

On the final leg Kitty’s twin Nell had nothing to chase but the clock and in determined mood pulled further away with every stride from the chasing pack to bring Birtley home in gold medal position in 16:42 after posting the fastest time of the day of 5:16. 

Sale finished in runners-up spot over a minute behind Birtley while Allerton’s Isabelle Smith (6:05) made a determined effort which she was rewarded with a bronze medal after hanging on for third place by one second from the fast-finishing Liverpool athlete. 

Birtley's Gold winning under 11s

In the under-11 Boys 3 stage over the same 1,500m course, Darlington were the only NE representatives finishing in eighth place with James l’anson their quickest in 5:37. 

In the under-13 girls 3x1,800m contest, a strong Liverpool Harriers finished first and second with Allerton again making the start line and finishing in ninth place with the team of Isobel Cook, Lucy Boot and Mhairi Corcoran. 

The under-13 boys‘ event was the same course as the girls and it was Darlington who were the region’s representatives finishing in ninth place with the team of Hugo Douglas-Reeves, Daniel l’anson and Finn Pentlandrice. 

The under-15 girls’ event was 3x2,000m with Allerton again carrying the flag for the region to finish in eighth spot with the trio of I Wilson, Grace Derry and Libby Acton. 

Allerton were also in action in the under-15 boys contest finishing in 15th place with the team of Sam Degazon, James O’Brien and Caleb Stanley. 

Blaydon travelled with Oscar Jolly, Joseph Lonergan and Will Collinson to contest the under-17 men’s 3x2,300m event and finished in 12th place with Will their quickest with a time of 7:44. 

From the youngest age group to the oldest, Birtley were the region’s only representatives in the senior women’s 3x2-mile contest and finished in 27th place with the trio of Tess Graham (13:13), Eve Southern (16:33) and Amy Drummond (16:03) 

The final event on the programme was the senior men’s 4x2-mile contest and here again the NE had only one team to cheer on. Sunderland Harriers were in 21st place at the first changeover through last weekend’s North Tyneside runner-up Craig Gunn (11:22). Scott Armstrong started the Wearsiders’ forward move on leg two with a time of 10:43 to hand over to Nathan Reed in 11th position. 

Reed consolidated that spot on the penultimate leg (11:13) before passing over to Steve Rankin for the glory leg. Rankin managed to reel in two rivals including Leeds City, who had evergreen former Gateshead athlete Alan Buckley contesting the final stage, Rankin managed to finish strongly to post a time of 11:24 and a total time for the quartet of 44:32. 

Despite a bitterly cold wind throughout the day, those teams which travelled to Graves Park from the North East certainly enjoyed the occasion and perhaps next time round a bigger number of clubs will endeavour to make the trip. 


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