Monday 21 March 2022

NECAA XC Relays - Thornley Hall Farm



WITH entries down on expectations the North East Counties Cross-Country Relay Championships still proved a success especially for a number clubs who don’t often figure among the medalists.

Once again Thornley Hall Farm was the venue and, on a Spring-like day competition was keen for the region’s senior and master’s with only a short section of the two-mile course what you would call muddy.

Such was the relatively low entry the four-race programme was condensed into two with the senior and masters’ combining making it more competitive.

The female relay opened the day’s action and it was a gun to tape victory for Gateshead Harriers in the senior contest after they were given the perfect start on the opening leg by Kim Simpson whose 12min 40sec proved to be the quickest of the day. Jane Giles, who could have lined up in the masters, took over from Simpson and extended the Tynesiders’ advantage with the second quickest overall time. Bethany Curran set off on the glory leg and once again she was fastest on stage three to bring home the team with a near four-minute cushion.

Kim Simpson runs the fastest leg of the day

Following them home was a delighted Crook contingent to claim the silver medals with the trio of Rachel McHugh, their quickest, Amy Etherington and Kate Storey. The bronze awards went to South Shields thanks to Michelle Douglas, Kellie Paterson and, quickest for the white and blues, Fran Dembele. Twelve teams closed in with Elvet Striders, Wallsend and Elswick following the top three home.


MASTERS WOMEN (3x2-mile)

It was a much closer affair in the masters’ contest with victory eventually going to Elswick who moved into the lead on the last leg. The Newcastle club were ahead on stage one thanks to Felicity Smith whose 13:47 was the day’s quickest overall. South Shields (Jackie Murdy) was in second place followed by North Shields Poly (Katherine Davis). On stage two the Poly moved into first place thanks to Natalie Mortimer who came to the final changeover two seconds ahead of Elswick’s Debbie Spoor.

It was nip and took over the final two-mile with Elswick (Joanne Brown) eventually coming home in pole position to push the Poly (Alison Smith) back into second place six seconds adrift. The Poly’s B string crossed the line in third place – Michelle Thomson was the pick of the trio – but unfortunately for them they had to relinquish the bronze awards to the ruling of one set of medals per club which meant Elvet Striders’ were promoted to take the third-place medals as Emma McCabe posted their quickest time. South Shields finished in fourth place, Wallsend were fifth and Birtley sixth.

SENIOR MEN (4x2-mile)

Sunderland got off to the perfect start thanks to the quickest clocking of the day by Stephen Jackson (10:47). Jackson, a member of the North East team at the Inter-Counties Championships the previous weekend, came into the changeover 25 seconds ahead of Gosforth’s James McCreesh with Tyne Bridge (Craig Jones) in third place. Liam Taylor set off on leg two for Sunderland and proceeded to extend the Wearsiders’ advantage with Tyne Bridge moving into second place ahead of Gateshead (Sam Hansen). For the penultimate leg Michael Rodenby consolidated Sunderland’s lead with Tyne Bridge still in second ahead of Gateshead.

Sunderland Harriers' Stephen Jackson

Steve Rankin improved Sunderland’s advantage even further on the glory leg with the day’s third quickest time overall behind Jackson and Taylor to break the tape nearly two minutes clear of Tyne Bridge (Ryan Holt) with Gateshead completing the one-two-three. A superb fourth place finish by Aycliffe (John Firby their best) and an excellent fifth-place finish by Derwent Valley Trail Runners thanks to Jack Siddaway the pick of their quartet.


MASTERS MEN (3x2-mile)

A strong trio of Michael Littlewood, Mark Warner and Graeme Watt saw Elvet Striders’ claim the title after being in third place in the early dtsges. Tyne Bridge (Paul Turnbull) led by 10 seconds at the first changeover. Warner quickly moved the Durham-based outfit into pole position on leg two ahead of the Newcastle team despite Dave Moir’s effort before Watt, with the quickest overall time of the day, extended Elvet’s lead all the way to the finish. Tyne Bridge were comfortable runner’s up ahead of Durham City with Phil Tickner’s second-stage helping the orange vests to bronze medals.

**Thanks to Jon Taylor for once again letting the Association have the use of his land for the Championships and also to all the technical officials and to Sunderland Harriers for supplying an excellent team of marshals.

**THE Association will return to Thornley Hall Farm on Saturday, April 2 when it’s the turn of the Young Athletes Cross-Country Relay.



Tuesday 8 March 2022

NEHL Alnwick 2022 Report


THE curtain came down on the Start Fitness North Eastern Harrier League under the backdrop of Alnwick Castle and after testing themselves over a tough course it was time for athletes’ celebrations.

After the six events, which started in Wrekenton back in September last year, it was a happy mood for everyone when the serious side of contesting one of the toughest courses on the circuit was put to bed.

Celebrations was the name of the game as cakes a plenty and egg and cress sandwiches were washed down with tea and coffee with one club going the whole hog by crashing open a bottle of champagne though I wonder if it was the cheaper version! Once again hosts Alnwick Harriers did a superb job and they are to be congratulated on putting on a true test for cross-country enthusiasts though there were a few blue words uttered at the end by some who found the course ‘brutal.’

THE day’s action once again opened with the ‘Try Cross-Country’ events for under-11s over a course of around 1,000 metres.

The boys were in action first and it was another success for Birtley’s Ed Moon which added to his previous victories at Thornley Hall Farm. Lambton, Druridge Bay and Aykley Heads.


Elswick’s Nicholas Surtees-Brown finished runner-up two seconds behind with Andrew Batley, of the host club, completing the medallists just a few strides further adrift. Batley’s team-mate Alistair Johnston was a close-up fourth.


After playing second fiddle throughout the season to her twin, Kitty Graham eventually got the better of sister Nell though it couldn’t have been closer as the Birtley duo battled it out all the way to the line and it was left to the judges to determine who got the verdict as the timekeepers’ were unable to separate them. It was a clean sweep of medals for the Gateshead outfit with Olivia Murphy claiming third place ahead of her team-mate, Izzy Hall.

In the under-13 boys event victory went to Heaton’s Joseph Brown who took advantage of his 1min 30sec start to hold off the fast finishing Joseph Ramshaw (Blaydon) by six seconds with Birtley’s Noah Williamson, also running from the fast pack, coming through to take third place. Ramshaw led Blaydon to team victory on the day and also to take the overall team title with North Shields Poly in second place three points adrift and Durham City finishing in third spot. Williamson came out on top to take the Individual Grand Prix award.

The under-13 girls contest was over the same course and it was another victory for a slow pack runner. Jarrow and Hebburn’s Alexa Reid held on by five seconds to finish ahead of fast pack athletes Anna Johnson (North Shields poly) and Heaton’s Mary Parkin. North Shields Poly came out on top on the day but, in an exciting team competition, it was Morpeth who edged it overall by just one point over the North Tyneside outfit with Durham City two points further adrift in third place. Noprth Shields Poly’s Katy Otterson, with four victories, claimed the overall individual award.

North Shields Poly’s Zac Brannon made a welcome return to competition and he made it a winning outing by taking the honours in the under-15 boys’ event. Darlington’s Alex Bowyer, running as a guest, was the quickest on the course in working his way through to second place from the fast pack to finish just 16 seconds adrift of the winner. Ben Sproats (North Shields Poly) finished in third place with Tyne Bridge’s Jake Moir in fourth spot.

Morpeth were clear winners of the team stakes making it five successes out of the six fixtures. Birtley finished runners-up one point ahead of North Shields Poly. The overall individual award went to Morpeth’s Oliver Calvert who finished just one point ahead of Sproats.

Durham City’s Charlotte Dillon made it five successes after defying a 1:40 penalty to claim victory in the under-15 girls’ race. Elswick’s Louisa Hamiton finished runner-up two seconds ahead of Blackhill’s Hatti Stead. Elswick came out on top in the team stakes and, not having finished outside the top three all season, claimed the overall team title ahead of Gateshead and North Shields Poly. Dillon was the individual champion finishing ahead of Poppy Old (Elswick) and Blaydon’s Ellie Fellows.

Birtley’s Chris Perkins brought the curtain down on his cross-country season with a comfortable victory in the under-17 men’s contest finishing ahead of Neil Sillence (North Shields Poly) and Blackhill’s Tom Slane. Morpeth, led home by fourth-placed Bertie Marr, won the team section for the fifth time and comfortable claimed the overall award ahead of Durham City and Blaydon. Perkins claimed the overall individual award ahead of Marr and Slane.


In the combined under-17/20 women’s race it was a success for Morpeth’s Millie Breese who defied a penalty of 2:05 to get ahead of Chester-le-Street’s Freya Clarkson in the closing stages to win by five seconds. Gosforth’s Kate Rickerby finished in third place just ahead of first under-20 athlete, Houghton’s Anna Pigford. North Shields Poly, led home by fifth-placed Katie Joslyn, won the team section ahead of Gosforth and Wallsend. However, overall it was Gosforth who came out on top ahead of the Poly and Morpeth while the individual Grand Prix was won by Breese who finished three points ahead of North Shields Poly’s Holly Waugh with Pigford finishing in third place a further three points adrift.


The senior men’s race saw a field of 470 face the starter and it was a gun to tape victory for Morpeth’s Phil Winkler who took full advantage of a five-minute start over most of his rivals. Jarlath McKenna (Bristol and West), who makes his North East Counties debut in the Inter-Counties Championships this coming weekend, worked his way through to second place with Crook’s Samuel Beckett completing the medal placings. Second fastest on the course was Gateshead’s Conrad Franks who also heads for Loughborough as the senior men defend their team title.


Morpeth were easy team winners on the day and were overall Division One champions once again finishing ahead of Tyne Bridge and Sunderland while Blaydon and Gosforth drop down to Division Two and are replaced by Elswick and North Shields Poly. Jarrow and Hebburn and Alnwick are relegated to Division Three and are replaced by a delighted Sedgefield and Houghton.

Not for the first 
time Franks claims the overall individual award finishing three points clear of Tom Charlton (Tyne Bridge) with Houghton’s Chris Coulson a further two points adrift in third place. In the vets category, North Shields Poly’s Ben Cook claimed the individual overall with maximum points finishing ahead of Birtley’s Andrew Beevers and Chris Stockdale (Tyne Bridge).


In the senior women’s event Kirsty Lowery (Sunderland Strollers) led throughout with Crook’s Kate Storey finishing in second place as fast pack runner Catriona MacDonald (Morpeth) worked her way through from the fast pack to complete the one-two three. Jane Hodgson, also Morpeth, finished in fourth spot with the second fastest time with Jarrow and Hebburn’s Alex Sneddon third quickest.


Jesmond Joggers won the Division One team event on the day but it was Elswick who were celebrating after winning Division One for the first time finishing ahead of Morpeth and Elvet Striders. South Shields and Gateshead drop down into Division Two and are replaced by Tynedale and Jarrow and Hebburn while Ponteland and Low Fell are promoted with Blaydon and Gosforth going in the opposite direction.

MacDonald, who came out on top in all five events she lined up, won the individual Grand Prix with maximum points with Sneddon finishing in second place ahead of Sunderland’s Jessica Fox while in the veteran’s section Hodgson, also with maximum points, led the way ahead of Stocksfield’s Claire Davies and Gateshead’s Jane Giles, the former winning on countback after both athletes finished with the same number of points.


**THE NEHL are indebted to Alnwick Harriers for once again hosting a superb climax to the season and to all the other clubs who took on the mantle of giving over 3,000 athletes the chance of contesting cross-country. Also, to all the officials who were at the post throughout the season and the army of marshalls for without those volunteers the league would not be the huge success it is. Now, get those spikes cleaned and put away for next season for it will not be long before it’s time to get your entries in once more!

Bill McGuirk

Sunday 6 March 2022

NECAA Senior & Masters XC Relays




MARCH 19th 2022

  • 11.00 MASTERS WOMEN 40+         3 x 3k
  • 11.50 MASTERS MEN 40+               3 x 3k
  • 12.40 SENIOR WOMEN                   3 x 3k
  • 13.30 SENIOR/U20 MEN (3x3k)       4 x 3k

CONDITIONS OF ENTRY – The Championships are open to members of NECAA clubs affiliated to England Athletics who meet one of the following criteria: 9- month residential qualification and/or have NE Counties birth qualification. All entrants must be first claim members (G2 S6)

ENTRIES £15.40 per team (SM £20.60). 



DECLARATIONS ONLINE BEFORE 7pm Thursday March 17th. Alterations no later than 30 minutes before the start of each race


CLUBS MAY ENTER A and B TEAMS in each category. NO REFUNDS WILL BE GIVEN. Please leave the venue after each race to assist with CAR PARKING  






NECAA CHAMPIONSHIP MEDALS WILL BE AWARDED (one set of medals per club in each category) – last leg runners will collect the medals.


RESULTS – NECAA and NEMAA Websites and Facebook

ENQUIRIES – NECAA Cross Country Secretary Archie Jenkins 


Thursday 3 March 2022

NEHL Alnwick Castle 2022

 NEHL Alnwick Castle

5th March 2022

Alnwick Harriers are looking forward to hosting you all this Saturday, the estate have done an amazing job in clearing the huge amount of fallen trees from the wooded section at the top of the loop.
As always absolutely no parking on any of the verges or roadside adjacent the venue, parking is available for £2 at the Alnwick Gardens car park, they are taking card only payment this year.
There is a drop off point for club tents etc on the main entrance to the pastures, please follow the marshals guidance. Unfortunately we’ve been advised no dogs due to stock in adjacent fields.
Weather forecast and course looking good, see you all Saturday.
Alnwick Harriers

Can't stress this enough, you have to leave your dog(s) at home

Getting there:

The Alnwick Garden Car Park, Denwick Lane, Alnwick NE66 1YU - be aware there is no parking along the B1340 - you must park in the Garden's Car Park, or you risk us losing the fixture.  Any athlete caught parking on the main road will be dq'd.  

Parking charges are in operation - £2 card payment only

Once you are parked up just follow the B1340 back up to the pastures.

The course

One full lap of the course is 2 miles, the U13s & U15s complete one full lap each.  The senior women do 2, and the senior men do 3.  The u17 men, and the U17&20 women do one small loop and one large lap 

One Full lap
small lap
under 11s

Sorry - NO DOGS at all even on a lead - Leave your dog(s) at home.  It is lambing season and there are no dogs allowed on the pastures.

Toilets & First Aid will be located in the usual spot near tent city (on the left of the track as you enter the pastures).

Numbers - Please remember to take off your Northerns/Nationals number (or any other non league number you might have) and put your NEHL 2021-22 number on your club vest.

Please check your packs for the final fixture on the the NEHL Website

Race HQ will be in the NEHL Tent by the start-finish, please collect any pre-entries there, and call in with any queries. Entries will close on Friday 4th.

Pre-entries will cost £3, Lost or replacement numbers are £5, transfers (U11 to U13, and MV65 to SNR Womens race) are free.


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)