Tuesday, 2 November 2021

NEHL Lambton 2021 Report from the finish-line


MICHAEL WILSON, a sub 1:49 800m athlete, showed he is no slouch when it comes to tackling a tough six-mile cross-country event. The Sunderland Harrier lined up in the slow pack at the third Start Fitness supported North East Harrier League at Lambton Castle and, despite the tough terrain made treacherous in parts due to heavy early morning rain, he was never headed as he scampered over sections of tarmac, trails and mud! Wilson, who was having his first cross-country race since November, 2018 while at New Mexico University in the States, took full advantage of the handicap system to leave the 500-plus strong field in his wake. 

Michael Wilson - Sunderland Harriers

After the completion of the first of three circuits around the former Lion Park, Wilson was already well clear of Birtley’s David Young, Andrew Heppell (Gosforth) and Matthew Levison of Blaydon while recent North Tyneside 10k winner David Green (North Shields Poly) was cutting into the deficit from the medium pack and had worked his way through to eighth position while leading fast pack runners Liam Taylor (Sunderland), Gateshead’s Conrad Franks, Adrian Bailes (Birtley) and former Northern XC champion, Durham City’s Dan Garbutt were battling through the packed field to make inroads. Going into the final lap, Wilson had a cushion of around a minute with Young still in second place as Green moved into third ahead of Levison as the leading quartet of fast pack runners closed in on the top 20. 

At the finish Wilson came home clear of Green recording 37min 47 secs and was rewarded with the joint third fastest time overall behind Bailes who, starting from a 5min 15sec penalty, worked his way through to fourth place and record an actual time of 36:55 with Green second fastest on the course with 37:24. Young managed to hold off his fast-finishing team-mate to claim the third place award as Franks equalled Wilson’s time of 37:47 with Garbutt no doubt more than happy with his 38:13 in what was his first major competitive xc race since the Sherman Cup in January, 2020. 

Adrian Bailes runs the fastest time of the day

Things are hotting up at the half-way stage of the season with Tyne Bridge moving to the top of Division One one point ahead of Morpeth with defending champions Sunderland a further point behind in third position. In Division Two North Shields Poly move to the top two points ahead of Elswick with South Shields five points behind the Newcastle club. In Division Three Sedgefield head the table with maximum points with Tynedale moving into second place one point better than Houghton. 


IRELAND’S Annette Quaid made her harrier league debut a winning one as she led throughout the four-mile contest. Running in the Tynedale colours, Quaid quickly established an early lead and was never headed from then on despite the challenge of medium pack runner Danielle Hodgkinson of Wallsend. At the halfway point at the completion of the first circuit, Quaid was followed by Houghton’s Eleanor Daglish and Sunderland’s Michelle Avery with Hodgkinson cutting into the 2min 33sec handicap in fourth place. 

Tynedale & Ireland athlete - Annette Quaid

All the while fast pack athletes led by Morpeth’s Catriona MacDonald were gradually pulling the pacesetter back from their 5:15 deficit. Quaid duly held on for a comfortable victory (29:46) with Hodgkinson finishing runner-up 30 seconds adrift and recording the second quickest actual time of the day of 27:39. Dalglish completed the one-two three while MacDonald came through to finish in fifth position with an actual time of 27:39, 10 seconds faster than Hodgkinson. 

Catriona MacDonald (Morpeth) & Amy Fuller (Elswick)

Elswick move to the top of Division One ahead of North Shields Poly with Morpeth in third place then Heaton and Tyne Bridge tied in fourth. Tynedale continue to lead Division Two two points ahead of Sunderland while Ponteland’s lead in Division Three has been cut to one point from Low Fell. Stocksfield Striders had plenty to celebrate after coming out on top on the day. 



GATESHEAD’S Josh Blevins made his seasonal cross-country debut a winning one and his time of 17:52 was the equal fastest of the day. Morpeth’s William De Vere-Owen led for a short period before Blevins took up the running and go on and win by 52 seconds with De Vere-Owen finishing a comfortable second ahead of Durham City’s Ethan Stokes. Birtley’s Chris Perkins equalled Blevins’ time after working through from a three-minute handicap to finish in fifth position. Morpeth continue to lead the team section though Durham City, winners on the day, have cut the deficit to just two points. 

Gateshead Harrier - Josh Blevins


DARLINGTON’S Marissa Boon, competing as a guest, was first home, finishing 15 seconds ahead of medium pack runners Jessica Milburn of Gateshead and Tynedale’s Jess Sails, who was a further four seconds adrift in third position. Fastest on the course after working her way to fifth place from a 2:45 handicap was Houghton’s Hannah Pigford (under-20, 21:28) with North Shields Poly’s Holly Waugh the quickest under-17 with 21:41. Gosforth now head the table after previous leaders Morpeth slipped back to third after fielding an incomplete team. 

Marissa Boon climbs the steep bank from Wear riverside to Lambton castle


SLOW pack runners claimed all three medal places with victory going to North Shields Poly’s Arran Head who had six seconds in hand over Sam Mason (Durham City) with Low Fell’s Ben McClean just one second further adrift in third place. The battle for the quickest time of the day was between Morpeth trio Oliver Calvert, Joseph Close and Oliver Tomlinson with Calvert edging the bragging rights by just one second over Close with Tomlinson a further five seconds adrift. With their second team success of the campaign, Morpeth head the table on four points with Birtley in second place on nine points. 


GATESHEAD’S Ellie Sperring pulled out all the stops to hold off Darlington guest athlete Zara Jones, the Tynesider crossing the line five seconds ahead of the visiting athlete who had worked her way through from a handicap of 1:45. Sperrin’s Gateshead team-mate Annabel Milburn completed the one-two-three as Elswick’s Poppy Old, was second quickest on the course after working her way through to fifth position. In a close contest for team honours Gateshead, after a winning day, move into pole position on four points with Elswick one point behind. 

Gateshead Harriers Ellie Sperring & Annabel Milburn


BLAYDON’S Joe Ramshaw, in his first xc competition since September, 2019, led throughout and was rewarded with the fastest overall time of the day of 13:15. Gateshead duo Alex Lienard and Alfie Cook claimed the minor awards as Adam Feenan, winner at Wrekenton, running from the fast pack, just missed out on a medal finish in fourth position in a time just four seconds slower than Ramshaw’s. North Shields Poly, winners on the day, consolidated their lead at the top of the division and now extend their advantage to four points over Blaydon with Durham City in third position. 

Blaydon Harrier Joe Ramshaw


NORTH Shields Poly’s Katy Otterson has proved unbeatable this season having come out on top here and in the two previous fixtures at Wrekenton and Druridge Bay. Despite giving away a start of 1:45 Otterson managed to cross the line seven seconds ahead of Chester-le-Street’s Taylor Miller with Derwentside’s Lucy Burnett finishing in bronze medal position. North Shields Poly continue to lead the chase for the league title and are four points clear of Durham City with Morpeth in third place a further point adrift. 

Katy Otterson flies ahead of the field


BIRTLEY’S Ed Moon repeated his Druridge Bay victory over an extended one mile course winning in 7:25, 11 seconds clear of Gateshead’s Elliott Mee with Arthur Byrne (Prudhoe) a close-up third. Despite the worst of the weather, 53 youngsters managed to finish the testing course. 

The under 11 boys set off


ANOTHER repeat performance from Birtley twins Nell and Kitty Graham. The pair finished one-two at both Wrekenton and Druridge Bay but this time the contest was much closer than the previous two events with Nell just edging out her sister by one second. Gateshead’s Emma Blackburn was a close-up third just six seconds behind Kitty. Special mention for Chester-le-Street’s Olivia Masters who found the tough terrain difficult but managed to battle on all the way to the finish. 

Nell & Kitty Graham lead the way in the under 11 girls

**THE NEHL moves to Aykley Heads for the fourth fixture on November 27. 


Stuart Whitman Photography 
Geoff Fenwick

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