Monday 28 November 2022

NEHL Aykley Heads 2022 Race Report


CHRISTMAS shopping was put on the back-burner as hundreds of athletes descended on Aykley Heads for the fourth instalment of the season’s Start Fitness North East Harrier League. Despite a cold wind throughout the day conditions were near perfect though one section of the undulating course cut up substantially as the day’s action unfolded. Once again, the fixture was superbly organised by the joint efforts of the Derwentside, Elvet Striders and Durham City clubs who have to be commended on hosting an excellent day’s sport for young and not so young competitors which numbered well over 1,000 once again.


Kent-based Durham University student Isabel Lloyd cut out the early pace but after leading until midway through the second and final circuit she was eventually hauled in by Durham City’s Alice Crane who had set off two minutes 25 seconds behind. Crane, who also led the field home in the fixture at Druridge Bay, came home a clear winner by 36 seconds with Lloyd settling for second place ahead of new North Shields Poly recruit Vicky Gibbs. 

Crane, meanwhile, not only picked up her second first-place medal but her actual time of 26:05 was the fastest overall, second quickest was Morpeth’s Catriona MacDonald, who worked her way through the 400-plus strong field from a 5:15 handicap to finish in ninth place (actual time 26:34) one place and 10 seconds ahead of her Morpeth team-mate Jane Hodgson who had also started from the fast pack. 

Relatively new club Prudhoe Plodders, were once again well represented and it is congratulations to Abi Stanforth and Debbie Shears who finished at the rear of the field but kept going and were rewarded with a sub- one hour finish on one of the toughest courses on the HL circuit.

In the team contest Tyne Bridge came out on top in Division One ahead of Morpeth and North Shields Poly while South Shields edged out Durham City by just one point to claim victory in Division Two with Washington closing in in third place. In Division Three Blaydon led the way home ahead of Sunderland Strollers and Crook.


Durham City’s Marcus Shantry led throughout the extended six-mile contest crossing the line with over two minutes to spare. At the completion of the first of three laps the former Windsor, Slough, Eton and Hounslow athlete, had an advantage of around 30 seconds over Jarrow and Hebburn’s Joshua McKenny who had a similar cushion over third-placed William Kennedy (Durham University).

Behind Birtley teenager Chris Perkins was making headway from the medium pack (2:35 handicap) and was up to 21st place. 

A strong fast pack was led by Morpeth’s Carl Avery who had weaved his way through into the top 200 from a 5:15 penalty. Shantry continued to cut out a lone furrow at the head of affairs and going into the final lap had extended his lead over McKenny as Perkins moved through to eighth with Avery now in 21st place. 

Shantry was in no danger as he cut through the tailenders and scored a superb victory as McKenny held on to second place with Perkins (eighth fastest overall) putting in another excellent run over the country to claim the bronze award ahead of Kennedy. 

Avery, the 2018 Northern XC champion, showed that kind of form as he came home in sixth place in what was his first cross-country outing of the season as he posted the day’s fastest time of 32:55. Second quickest on the course was Bristol and West’s Jarlath McKenna with Kieran Walker (NE Project) next best.

In the team stakes, Morpeth were clear winners with Robert Balmbra (7th) scoring for the Northumbrians in his reappearance for the club after an absence of four years. Sunderland finished in second place ahead of Birtley as Durham City came out on top in Division Two ahead of Houghton and Saltwell. Durham University headed the Division Three rankings ahead of Tynedale and NE Project.


Local student Amy Whelan took full advantage of a generous handicap to lead throughout the extended three-mile contest and deprive Durham City’s Charlotte Dillon a fourth consecutive victory. Whelan (u20) was given a 2:50 start over Dillon (u17) and at the line still had close to a minute advantage at the finish. 

Dillon won the opening fixture at Wrekenton running from the slow pack; she followed that up with a successful run at Druridge Bay from the medium pack before winning again at Lambton running from the fast pack. However, the Durham University fell running specialist was at home on the testing hills of Aykley Heads and as well as victory was also rewarded by posting the fourth fastest under-20 time of the day. 

Following Dillon home in third place was Emma White, a welcome medallist for the South Shields Tri club. Second quickest under-17 on the course behind Dillon came Gateshead’s Jessica Milburn followed by Elswick’s Imogen Bungay while the quickest under-20 was Houghton’s Anna Pigford followed by Millie Breese (Morpeth) and Tynedale’s Jess Sails. In the team stakes Durham City edged out their University neighbours by just four points with Gosforth a further four points back in third place.


In the closest contest of the day Morpeth’s William De Vere-Owen got the verdict by just one second over Darlington’s Alex Boyer as both athletes defied a handicap of 2:50 to get the better of early leaders Callum Aktar (Gosforth) and Durham City’s Aiden Wilkinson who eventually finished in third and fourth place respectively. Third quickest on the course was Blackhill’s Tom Slane who came home in fifth position. Once again, a strong Morpeth squad claimed the team honours ahead of Tyne Bridge and Durham City.


Houghton’s Freya Stockley was the early leader with a comfortable cushion before being overtaken close to the finish by Darlington’s Zara Jones who worked her way into the lead from a 1:40 handicap. Morpeth’s Megan Portrac completed the one-two-three holding off the fast-finishing Ania Stobbart (Tynedale) who was rewarded with the second fastest time with Blyth’s Lauren Creaby next best. Stobbart led Tynedale to team victory finishing ahead of Alnwick and North Shields Poly.


Morpeth’s Oliver Calvert repeated his Lambton performance with another impressive victory from the fast pack. 

Birtley’s Callum Bailey led for most of the contest but Calvert, from a 1:40 handicap, managed to reel in the leader well before the finish. Calvert’s Morpeth team-mate Oliver Tomlinson, also running from the fast pack, finished in third place to claim the second quickest time ahead of North Shields Poly’s Daniel Watson. Once again Morpeth headed the team scores ahead of Durham City and North Shields Poly.


After their success at Lambton, Kitty and Nell Graham had no problems repeating their one-two despite lining up from the fast pack. 

The Birtley twins eventually caught early leader Grace Clewes (Chester-le-Street) close to home with Nell taking the gold medal two seconds ahead of her sister. Clewes had to settle for third place but did well to hold off the rest of the fast pack athletes especially another member of the Birtley National Cross-Country Relay champions, Niamh Phillipson. Birtley were convincing winners of the team section finishing ahead of Gateshead and Darlington.


Early leaders Dominic Kelso (Elswick) and Blaydon’s Dan Finlay were eventually caught by Noah Williamson (NE Project) just short of the finish line. 

Williamson, who also won the previous fixture at Lambton, again defied a 1:40 handicap to finish strongly and go on and win by 14 seconds with Kelso finishing runner-up six seconds ahead of Finlay. Second quickest on the course was Darlington’s Rowan Steel with North Shields Poly’s James Sturman next best. Blaydon came out on top in the team section finishing 14 points clear of Sunderland with Blyth finishing in third spot just ahead of North Shields Poly.


The ‘Try Cross-Country’ competition continues to be popular especially for Birtley duo Poppy Phillipson and Izzy Hall. The youngsters have now filled the top two places in all four harrier league fixtures this campaign with Hall winning by 12 seconds on this occasion. Phoenix Flyers’ Isla Coker once again finished in third place after finishing in the same position at Druridge Bay.


North Shields Poly’s Noah Penfold continues his unbeaten run having claimed victories at Wrekenton and Lambton. On this occasion he won by four seconds with Gateshead’s Peter Davies, having his first HL outing, finishing in second place two seconds clear of Darlington’s Ollie Curran.

**Thanks once again go to the host clubs Derwentside, Durham City and Elvet Striders, to all the enthusiastic marshalls, to the first aid team and all the technical officials for without their input the league would not be the success it is. The league takes a break until the turn of the year but the next cross-country event is the NE County Championships at Temple Park, South Shields on December 10 when we look forward to another great day’s sport.

Aykley Heads volunteers


Photos - Stuart Whitman Photography

Full Results -

Friday 25 November 2022

Start Fitness NEHL 2022-23 - Aykley Heads

See below for the site/course map for Saturday's Aykley Heads fixture. Event start times are as usual (see map / SFNEHL website). Parking is at County Hall (DH1 5UL) and there is no charge for this event. PLEASE DO NOT PARK ELSEWHERE (PARTICULARLY DURHAM CONSTABULARY) FOR THE EVENT. TO DO SO PUTS THE FUTURE OF THE FIXTURE AT RISK.

Tent drop off is adjacent to the course at the Constabulary (DH1 5TT) - as indicated above once tents are dropped off please return to park at County Hall.
Big thanks to Derwentside AC, Durham City and Elvet Striders for hosting the event and in particular Mark Davinson (Derwentside) who deals with liaison with Durham Council, the Safety Advisory Group and Constabulary to ensure the event can go ahead.
Paul has already emailed managers with guidance but please ensure you have the correct number and run from the correct pack - if unsure, check before the event. Some folks seem to believe that Vicki and I carry this information in our heads. Sorry to disappoint - we're good but not that good! 
Finally, enjoy what will be another great day's cross country. Thanks!

From one of our host clubs Derwentside:
Course preparation underway on a warm sunny day (opposite of 2021). There will be mud so road shoes not recommended. A slightly narrower lay out in the first woodland so follow the tape and find somewhere else to overtake to avoid the trees and bushes.


12.00 Under 11 Boys
12.05 Under 11 Girls
12.15 Under 17 men
12.20 U17 and U20 women
12.35 Under 15 Boys
12.40 Under 15 Girls
12:50 Under 13 boys
12:55 Under 13 girls
13.15 Senior & veteran women
13:50 Senior & veteran Men

Guests may run in the league at a cost of £5 for the whole season. This is a one off charge. They must register on the day, and let us know if they competed last season (and if they did we can check the pack).

Guests must be members of a EA or SA, or similar affiliated club.

Second Claim runners may not count for team points. They can either run for their first claim club as a guest, or if they come and register on the day they can take part as a non-counting runner in their second claim vest.

Guests & Second claim runners do not accumulate team points, but do get individual grand prix points.

Race HQ will be at the all new singing and dancing NEHL Tent next at the start area.

Reminder to ALL competitors. We do not split race packs. Your team manager needs to collect and pay for your team entries. I have a list of who owes what, we wi
ll not take individual numbers out of the packs, we are far too busy. Find out who your team manager is and make sure they have a cheque or cash with them to cover the club's entry fees.

Costs are £50 + £3 per runner for clubs

£5 for guests

If by some unknown reason you manage to lose your number on the day after you've collected it from your team tent, you can buy a new one for £5. I know it sounds daft, but it has happened before.

Quick reminder of the rules.

You must start in the pack you have been allocated. (You will be DQd for running from the wrong pack)

You must wear your club's team vest or t-shirt, and all vests must be of the same design (or you will be DQd & won't count for team points)

As per league rules you CANNOT wear headphones

Age restrictions as follows:

Under 11 - must be aged at least 9 on the day of competition
Under 13 - must be 11 on 31st August 2022.  
Under 15 - must be 13 on 31st August 2022.
Under 17 men - must be 15 on 31st August 2022.
Under 17 & 20 women - must be 15 on 31st August 2022.
Senior Men - must be 17 on 31st August 2022.
Senior Women - must be 20 on 31st August 2022.

Masters men aged 65 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.

Results will be available on the usual link :

Monday 14 November 2022



ON AN accurately-measured course Adrian Bailes and Amy Fuller were crowned the North Eastern Counties 10k champions after tasting success in the annual Heaton Memorial race on Newcastle Town Moor.

After last year’s course was deemed to be 80 metres short the Newcastle club checked and rechecked that everything was in order this time round for the near-500 competitors who lined-up after an impeccable one minute silence followed by a huge round of applause.

Once underway it was pre-race favourites Bailes (Birtley AC) and Bristol and West’s Jarlath McKenna, who had finished second and third respectively in the race in 2021, who immediately took up the running and couldn’t be separated for much of the contest.

Adrian Bailes & Jarlath McKenna

Despite strong winds blowing across the Moor, the duo reached half- way in 15min 33secs as they opened up a gap of around 30 seconds over a chasing group of three, Michael Hedley (Tyne Bridge), Connor Marshall (Morpeth) and Elswick’s Lewis Liddle with Lewis McConnell (Birtley), Scott McLeod (Edinburgh), Duncan Hughes (Blackhill) and Heaton duo Fred Davies and Lewis Head in close attendance.

The pace at the front was relentless with neither athlete giving an inch until the final turn for home around 500 metres from the finish when Bailes, the younger of the two, made a bid for glory sprinting all the way to the line to claim victory by a matter of just two seconds in a time of 30:41 and while it was over a minute outside Ryan McLeod’s 2015 course record of 29:32 it was only three seconds outside his best for the distance, so, considering the strong winds throughout the contest, it was an excellent effort which bodes well for the rest of the season.

Afterwards the in-form Bailes’ said he was delighted with his victory adding: “Jarlath certainly made it tough but I thought the longer the race progressed I felt I had a good chance of winning if it came to a sprint finish and so it proved.”

The race for the bronze medal behind Bailes and McKenna was sorted around midway through the second circuit as Marshall, who was making his debut over the distance, pulled away from his rivals and it was a happy Morpeth athlete who came home in third place just over a minute behind the leaders and 15 seconds ahead of Hedley with Davies having moved through to fifth place a similar distance back having knocked over two minutes off his previous pb.

In the women’s contest another Bristol and West athlete took the open race honours after leading throughout. Kate Maltby, who is based in the Lake District and an England hill running international, followed up her victory in the Great North 10k on her last visit to the region in July, to claim the winner’s check in 35:28.

Kate Maltby

However, behind the visiting North West visitor, the battle for county success was a much closer affair. Amy Fuller, making her Tyne Bridge debut after moving from Elswick, held a slight lead over Imogen Bungay (Elswick) with North Shields Poly’s Jaqueline Penn a few yards further adrift and just ahead of Morpeth’s Rachelle Falloon.

As the race progressed Fuller continued to keep her rivals at bay to eventually come home three seconds outside her pb in 36:34 to claim the NE County title. Penn finished in silver medal position 14 seconds adrift with Falloon finishing in third place in 37:12 as teenager Bungay slipped outside the medals to finish in fourth spot.

The North East County’s 10k medalists, left to right: Rachel Falloon (3rd), Jacki Penn (2nd) and Amy Fuller (1st)

**Thanks go to Heaton Harriers from the NECAA for another excellent event which is just one of a number of road races run under the banner of NE County Championships.


Photos: Stuart Whitman - Photos here

Wednesday 9 November 2022

English National XC Relays - North East Report


Birtley U13 Girls winning team with Coach Gary Curtis

The man on the mic was caught out when first home in the under-13 girls contest at the ECCA National Cross-Country Relays at Berry Hill Park, Mansfield was a Birtley athlete, however, the commentator hadn’t done his homework for the winning trio of Kitty Graham, Olivia Murphy and Kitty’s twin sister Nell, had produced some eye- catching early season performances having won both the Northern Road Relay and Cross-Country Relay Championships as well as finishing runner-up in the National Road Relay Championships behind the strong Southern outfit Aldershot, Farnham and District (AF&D).

Perhaps the announcer was caught aback a little for Kitty Graham had Birtley back in sixth place going into the first changeover zone 18 seconds adrift of Windsor, Slough, Eton and Hounslow (WSE&H) with AF&D two places and five seconds further adrift.

On the second leg Murphy was quickly into her stride and before half-way of the 2k circuit had reeled in the leader but the big danger was now AF&D who also cut back the deficit and was on Murphy’s shoulder as they came to the final changeover locked together with WSE&H a further seven seconds back in third place.

Once again it was Nell Graham who was given the honour, just as she had in previous events, of contesting the glory leg as she, just like Murphy, set off briskly in an attempt to ease away and the tactic turned into reality after quickly opening up a 10-second gap well into her stint. 

With a sprinkling of support from a number of spectators – including yours truly - from the North East and, of course, the girls’ parents and coach, Nell managed to come home clear despite the AF&D athlete closing her down slightly towards the finish and it was a delighted Birtley trio who were called up to receive their gold medals after being announced as winners from the same announcer who will certainly know all about Birtley now and if he is on the mic in 12 months’ time there is every chance he could be calling out a repeat performance as the girls will still be eligible to line up in the under-13 contest once more!

Naturally, the Birtley trio grabbed the headlines for they were the region’s only medallists. However, there were other teams from the NE who also took in the event to gain championship experience.

In the same under-13 girls contest the Gateshead trio of Emily Collingwood, Larkin Reid and Maeve Taggart finished in 52nd place while in the under-13 boys relay over the same 2k course, Elswick’s threesome of Nicholas Surtees-Brown, George Russell and Dominic Kelso came home in 44th position.

The under-15s also ran the same distance as the younger age group and in the girls’ event Darlington, with the trio of Zara Jones, Freya Talman and Sophie Bannister, finished in 35th place from 95 teams which started while Elswick’s Team of Poppy Wilde, Erin Bright and Isla Gardner, came home in 54th spot.

In the boys’ relay Morpeth and Elswick were the region’s representatives with the Northumbrian trio of Harry Armstrong, Oliver Calvert and Steven Craske getting the better of their Tyneside rivals by just 15 seconds with Sam Allison, Adam Jeavans and Liam Heron Coulson representing the Newcastle club.

The under-17 age group faced a distance of 2.5k and in the men’s event Morpeth finished strongly and only 40 seconds off bronze medal position with the trio of Elliot Kelso, Liam Roche and William De Vere Owen as they came home in 10th place out of 60 teams. Gateshead also lined up and the team of Matthew Atkinson, Matthew Dias and Luca Shaw, finished in 56th place.

In the under-17 women’s contest only two seconds separated Gateshead and Elswick at the finish. The trio of Jessica Milburn, Iona Johnstone and Aoife Bell finished in 10th place while the Newcastle club’s representatives Poppy Old, Isabella Russell and Imogen Bungay came home in 13th position out of the 60 teams which started.

The final two events n the programme were the senior women and senior men and here again a sprinkling of NE clubs faced the starter. In the women’s three stage contest over a distance of 3k, Morpeth, Elswick and two NE Project teams were among the 136 called to their marks with the Morpeth trio Lizzie Rank, Robyn Bennett and Rachelle Falloon finishing in 59th place, Elswick finished 88th with Joanne Brown, Sara Blight and Andrea Banner while the NE Project A team of Lindsey Blackburn, Helen Hall and Jen Howse finished 110th with the second string of Janet Stainsby, Amelia Harrison and Zoe Walls finishing a further six places back. 

The NE Project outfit have to be congratulated on lining up in the championships for the very first time especially with having two teams in the senior women’s contest.

The senior men’s 4x5k contest was, as usual, the final event on the programme and with dusk rapidly approaching it was a race against time to complete the competition. Nevertheless, it didn’t stop former winners, Morpeth, once again leading the region’s charge.

The quartet of Matthew Walton, Philip Winkler, Matthew Briggs and Connor Marshall finished an excellent 27th out of the 198 teams which started. Sunderland – Michael Wilson, Scott Armstrong, Stephen Jackson and Steve Rankin – were next home for the region in 38th place while, two places and eight seconds further back came Gateshead who lined up with Luca Minale, Jack Douglas, James Cripwell and Matthew Linsley. In 108th place came NE Project’s foursome of Kieran Walker, Jamie Slack, Gary Reay and Jordan Page while the Wallsend quartet of Simon Lyon, Mark Covell, Iain Hall and Martin Crozier finished in 114th place.

It was not an exceptional turn out by NE clubs at a championship which attracts teams from every corner of England but the NE teams which did well done to you all.


Photos: Birtley AC & NE Project

Thursday 3 November 2022

NEHL Lambton Estate 2022 - Race Report


CROSS-COUNTRY is often thought of as the poor relations of our sport but while we know the camaraderie is second to none and is there for all to see at every Start Fitness North East Harrier League fixture, at Lambton Castle it was further in evidence as the under-15 girls approached the finish line of their event.

As the senior women were lining up adjacent to the finishing straight and waiting for the starter to send them on their way all three packs immediately broke into loud applause for the youngsters who had just completed a very tough cross-country course.

It was a pleasure to see and hear on a day when the inclement weather failed to dampen the enthusiasm of nearly 1,500 competitors with the senior women certainly excelling in every way. Well done to you all, I didn’t think the HL could get any better but on Saturday it certainly did and I applaud you all!


Three undulating circuits of the former lion park faced the 550 starters over an extended six-mile multi-terrain course and it was two of the nation’s leading teenagers who signaled their intentions from the off. 

Gateshead’s Josh Blevins and Birtley’s Chris Perkins entered the unknown after moving up from the under-17 age group last year to contest six-mile for the first time but you would not have believed it as they were locked together shoulder-to-shoulder for the first two circuits well clear of their rivals.

It wasn’t until around a mile to go that Blevins, the Northern and National under-17 5k champion, managed to ease away from his shadow and come home 26 seconds ahead of English Schools’ track international Perkins.

“Naturally, I’m pleased with that,” said Blevins after his victory. “Racing six-mile on the country is a big step up but I’m happy with the way it went. Chris was very strong on the hills but I sensed he was tiring a bit so decided to make a move and it paid off. I’m running Milton Keynes next (UK Cross Challenge) then the North Eastern’s and all the major races after the turn of the year.’’

For Perkins, who admits he is primarily a track runner, it was also a run to be proud of after posting the fourth overall quickest time of the day – Blevins was second fastest with fastest time being recorded by Tyneside-based Jarlath McKenna (Bristol and West).

McKenna, who was also quickest in the opening HL fixture at Wrekenton, lined up at Lambton for the first time and, from a handicap of 5min 15secs, worked his way through to finish in eighth place. Asked if he found it difficult to make his way through such a large field, McKenna smiled and said: ‘Yes, maybe on the hills but I’m not complaining for it gave me a chance to ease back a bit!” The Bristol and West athlete plans to line up in the Heaton Memorial 10k, a race he finished in third place last year.

In the team event Morpeth led the way in Division One finishing ahead of Sunderland and Gateshead while in Division Two Durham City were comfortable winners with Saltwell in second place ahead of Blaydon. Newcastle University topped Division Three led home by Luke Davis who was third quickest overall behind McKenna and Blevins as Tynedale finished runners-up ahead of NE Project.


At Druridge Bay Teesside outfit NE Project celebrated their first NEHL victory when Kieran Walker was first home in the senior men’s race. This time round it was Jess Young who took the honours after giving the black-vested club success in the senior women’s two-lap contest.

At the completion of the first circuit, Alnwick’s Helen Waugh had a 20-metre advantage over Young with Anna Oswald (Tyne Bridge) a similar distance back in third place.

Midway through the testing second lap Young eased ahead to come home 21 seconds clear of Waugh with Morpeth’s Morag Stead, who was runner-up in Wrekenton, completing the one-two-three from a 2min 27secs handicap.

Fastest on the course was Wallsend’s Danielle Hodgkinson who worked her way through the 450-strong field to finish in fifth place from a 5min 15secs penalty. Hodgkinson, testing out a long-standing Achilles injury felt she is quietly getting back to some decent form though she added that she is disappointed that she will miss the NEXC Championships as she will be competing for the Army in another fixture.

In the team contest Tyne Bridge led the way in Division One ahead of North Shields Poly and Tynedale; in Division Two Sunderland headed Birtley by just two points with South Shields in third place a further five points adrift while in Division Three Sunderland Strollers took the honours on countback after finishing on 84 points the same as Crook with Stocksfield Striders edging out Blaydon for third palce after the two clubs totalled 96 points.


Elswick’s Callum Eldridge led throughout the three-mile contest finishing a minute clear of North Shields Poly’s Ben Sproats and Blackhill’s Tom Slane, Sproats and Slane posting the day’s quickest times from a 2min 35secs handicap.

The all-conquering Morpeth squad once again claimed team victory with Birtley in second place and Gateshead third.


Not so many years ago this age group was lucky to see a dozen or so face the starter but happily, that is no longer the case with over 40 young women lining up and it was Durham City’s Charlotte Dillon who claimed victory for the third time this season having won from the slow pack at Wrekenton; from the medium pack at Druridge Bay at from the fast pack here at Lambton.

Chester-le-Street’s Lucy Scothern led after the first small lap but Dillon, making her debut at Lambton, cutting back the 2min 35sec handicap with every stride before taking the lead midway the second circuit to come home to win by nearly a minute. Gateshead’s Aoife Bell finished in third place with North Shields Poly’s Holly Waugh fourth posting the second quickest time to help the Poly claim team victory over Gateshead and Gosforth.


In-form Oliver Calvert (Morpeth) defied a 1min 45sec handicap to claim a popular victory after overhauling North Shields Poly pair Matthew Maley and Adam Feenan with the finish line in sight, the Northumbrian eventually getting his nose in front to win by just two seconds over Maley. Second fastest on the course was Calvert’s Morpeth team-mate Oliver Tomlinson who finished in fourth place. North Shields Poly won the team section ahead of Morpeth with Durham City finishing in third place.


Tynedale’s Maria Gaines took the honours with a 16-seconds victory over Durham City’s Chloe Johnson with Lucy Buckle (Chester-le-Street) completing the medallists. Fastest on the course was Johnson’s Durham City team-mate Grace Carter who worked her way through from a 1min 45sec penalty to finish in fifth position. Second quickest was Mary Parkin (Heaton) with Ania Stobbart (Tynedale) third fastest. Tynedale won the team section ahead of Durham City with North Shields Poly in third.


Noah Williamson defied a 1min 45sec handicap to claim an excellent victory, the NE Project runner came home a clear winner by 25 seconds with Blyth’s Dexter Heatley claiming second place three seconds ahead of Heaton’s Jake Smith. Second quickest on the course behind Williamson was North Shields Poly’s James Sturman who held off Wallsend’s Joseph Duthie-Brown in the sprint for the line with the timekeepers’ unable to separate the pair.

Over 60 runners completed the course with Blaydon and Blyth tied on 35 points with the former claiming victory in the team contest on countback. Sunderland finished in third place.


Having their first HL outing of the campaign it was Birtley twins Kitty and Nell Graham who dominated from the off. The duo, members of the winning team the previous weekend at the Northern Athletics XC Relay Championships, led throughout with victory going to Kitty who had a 12 seconds cushion at the line over her sister. Gateshead’s Emma Blackburn was a clear third, on her way to posting the third fastest overall time behind the Birtley girls. No surprise as Birtley won the team race ahead of Gateshead and Morpeth.


Having won the opening fixture in Wrekenton, North Shields Poly’s Noah Penfold made it a second success with a 13-second victory over Druridge Bay winner Kallen O’Neil (Elswick) who just got the verdict over Darlington’s Ollie Curran with both athletes given the same time by the timekeepers.


Three fixtures in and it was the same result as far as the top two finishing positions. Wrekenton, Druridge Bay and now Lambton. Another Birtley one-two with victory going to Poppie Phillipson who finished 16 seconds ahead of her team-mate Izzy Hall. Chester-le- Street’s Isla Ford Hutchinson completed the podium places. Once again it was pleasing to see a number of competitors from West Jesmond Primary School taking part, many tackling cross-country for the very first time.

** Thanks go to the Lambton landowners for letting the HL use their land; to the first aiders and to all the volunteer marshals from the Low Fell, Washington and Birtley clubs and to all the technical officials who, together with the HL committee, were at their posts throughout the day.


Photos by Stuart Whitman
Full gallery here