Friday 10 March 2023

NEHL Alnwick Castle 2023 Race Report



Under the backdrop of the iconic Alnwick Castle the curtain came down on another hugely thriving Start Fitness Harrier League programme. The final fixture, once again hosted admirably by Alnwick Harriers, attracted close to 1,300 competitors giving a total of around 8,000 spread over the six contests over the winter months which signifies how popular the unique format of the league is which was compounded by the comments of many on a day when the weather Gods were kind as they have been for most of the campaign. With promotion and relegation places finally to be decided there were clubs who were celebrating and some who were not but at the end of the day the camaraderie among athletes was still in evidence whichever way you turned long after the results were checked on iPhones throughout the tented village.



Senior Men – Morpeth’s Matthew Briggs led for two of the three circuits before being overtaken mid-way through the final lap by Durham City’s Morgan Kendall who went on to win by eight seconds.

North Shields Poly’s Alex Black finished in third place while Marcus Chantry, running as a guest in Durham City’s colours, recorded the fastest time of the day after working his way through to fifth place from a five-minute handicap. Second quickest was Houghton’s Chris Coulson followed by Conrad Franks (Gateshead) and Kendall. 

North Shields Poly led the team stakes on the day while Tyne Bridge just edged out Morpeth by eight points for second spot, a result which was still good enough though for the Northumbrians to retain their Division One title for another year. Tyne Bridge finished second with Gateshead third. At the other end of the table, Newcastle clubs Elswick and Heaton are unfortunately relegated with Durham City and Saltwell promoted from Division Two with Gosforth and South Shields dropping down to Division Three to be replaced by Tynedale and Blyth. 

Kieran Walker (North East Project) topped the Individual Grand Prix points table followed by Conrad Franks and Tyne Bridge’s Michael Hedley. Tyneside-based Jarlath McKenna (Bristol and West) was leading vet with maximum points finishing ahead of Sunderland’s Michael Barker and Blackhill’s Gary Wallace.


Senior Women – Former internationals Charlotte Penfold (North Shields Poly) and Elswick’s Justina Heslop dominated from the front of the two-lap contest with the former celebrating having posted the fastest time of the day as she crossed the line nearly two minutes clear of the Newcastle athlete who was 44-years-old the day before. Always at the head of affairs Penfold’s advantage increased with every stride, a result which augurs well for this weekend’s Inter Counties Cross-Country Championships where she will be making her North East debut. 

Jessica Eaton (Tyne Bridge) claimed the third place award while second quickest on the course was Morpeth’s Jane Hodgson who finished in seventh position after working through the field from a five-minute penalty. Kathryn Stevenson (Tyne Bridge) who is also in the NE team for Loughborough, was third fastest. 

Tyne Bridge headed Jesmond Joggers by four points to take team honours on the day with Wallsend in third place with the Newcastle club edging out Morpeth by one point to claim the Division One title with the Jesmond outfit finishing in third spot. Jarrow and Hebburn and Elvet Striders are relegated with Heaton beating the drop by one point. South Shields and Durham City are promoted while Birtley and Low Fell are relegated to Division Three with Sunderland Strollers and a delighted Stockton Striders taking their place in Division Two. 

The top individual award goes to Morpeth’s Cat MacDonald for the second year running as Houghton’s Eva Hardie claimed second place ahead of Shona Haston (Gateshead). Jane Hodgson was leading vet ahead of Morpeth team-mate Morag Stead with Claire Davies (Stocksfield Striders) finishing in third place.


Under-17 Men – David Carr (Tyne Bridge) made full use of a two minutes and five seconds start to claim a clear victory as the fast pack athletes’ closed in behind. William De Vere-Owen (Morpeth) came closest to hauling in the leader to finish in second place with the day’s quickest time. Gosforth’s Ethan Bond crossed the line in third spot recording the second fastest figures with fourth-placed Bertie Marr (Morpeth) third quickest. 

Once again Morpeth won the team race comfortably with Tyne Bridge second and Gosforth third. The strong Morpeth squad won all six fixtures so no surprise to lift the trophy again with Birtley and Durham City finishing on the same number of points with the former awarded second place on countback. De Vere-Owen, with maximum points, claimed the individual Grand Prix top award followed by Ethan Bond and Blackhill’s Tom Slane.


Under-17/20 Women – North Shields Poly’s Amelie Sillence claimed a narrow victory by four seconds as Houghton’s Anna Pigford moved through to second place from a 2:05 handicap. Third across the line was the Poly’s Mili Diddee while second fastest under-20 on the course was Morpeth’s Millie Breese followed by Birtley’s Katie Francis. 

Quickest under-17 was Aofie Bell of Gateshead followed by Imogen Bungay (Elswick) and Gateshead’s Iona Johnstone. North Shields Poly claimed the team award ahead of Gosforth and Gateshead. Gateshead, however, claimed the overall team trophy finishing one point ahead of Gosforth with the Poly two points further adrift in third place. Durham City’s Charlotte Dillon missed the action in Alnwick but nevertheless claimed the individual Grand Prix with maximum points finishing ahead of Pigford and Bungay.


Under-15 Boys – Morpeth’s Oliver Calvert defied a 1min 40sec handicap to win by 19 seconds with Houghton’s Josh Dunning hanging on to claim second spot ahead of the fast-finishing Liam McDonough of host club Alnwick. Daniel Watson (North Shields Poly) was third quickest on the course finishing in fifth place. 

Morpeth won the team contest finishing ahead of North Shields Poly and Blaydon. Morpeth, who never finished out of the top three all season, comfortably won the team title finishing ahead of the Poly and Tyne Bridge while Calvert claimed the individual title with maximum points with McDonough and Oliver Tomlinson (Morpeth) finishing on the same number of points behind with the Alnwick athlete getting the nod for second place on countback.


Under-15 Girls – It was one-two for the Poly with Ruby Dann taking advantage of a 1min 40sec start to claim the gold medal as teammate Anna Johnson followed her home with the day’s quickest time after just managing to haul in Niamah Michla (Tyne Bridge) close to home. Mary Parkin (Heaton) finished in fourth place with the second best time behind Johnson with Daisy Graham (Birtley) next best in fifth position. 

North Shields Poly headed Tyne Bridge and Elswick to claim team honours on the day while the overall title went to Tynedale with the Poly in second place and Elswick third. Mary Parkin claimed the overall individual award finishing one point ahead of Tynedale’s Ania Stobbart with Durham City’s Grace Carter just two points further adrift in third spot.


Under-13 Boys – Morpeth’s James Rothwell made full use of a 1min 40sec start to claim an impressive victory as North Shields Poly’s James Sturman cut back the deficit to 21 seconds at the line.

Tynedale’s Wilfred Pugh, with the day’s second quickest time behind Sturman, completed the one-two-three. Morpeth’s Ewan Line, who crossed the line in fifth position, was third fastest. 

Alnwick won the team section on the day followed by Morpeth and Heaton. Blaydon, who finished fourth on the day, topped the final league table finishing well clear of Tynedale and Sunderland while the top individual award goes to North East Project’s Noah Williamson who finished with maximum points to finish ahead of Sturman and Heaton’s Alexander Smith.


Under-13 Girls – Nell Graham (Birtley) and Houghton’s Kathryn Pye turned round a 1min 40sec handicap to finish first and second with Florence Snaith (Tyne Bridge) completing the podium places. Third quickest on the course was Birtley’s Niamh Phillipson after crossing the line in fourth place. 

Tyne Bridge were clear winners of the team contest with Gosforth getting the verdict on countback over Gateshead for second spot. Gateshead, however, claimed the overall title over their Newcastle rivals with Elswick finishing in third place ahead of the Poly. Topping the individual Grand Prix is Kathryn Pye who claimed the title by three points over Phillipson with Morpeth’s Emma Tomlinson finishing in third place.


Under-11 Boys – As he has done throughout the season North Shields Poly’s Noah Penfold, the son of the day’s senior women’s winner, raced to another victory in the “Try Cross-Country” with Alnwick’s Finlay Waugh once again claiming second place ahead of Elswick’s Kallen O’Neil.


Under-11 Girls – For the sixth time this season Birtley duo Poppie Phillipson and Izzy Hall have claimed the top two places with Poppie getting the verdict once again over her club-mate by eight seconds. Elswick’s Millie Robson finished a close-up third. 

**Once again the NEHL committee is grateful to all the clubs who hosted a fixture; to all the technical officials and volunteer marshalls who have played their part in making the cross-country league one of the biggest and most successfully well-run competition in the country. Also thanks to the first aid team and finally to all of the competitors all 8,000 of you who have faced the starter over the past six months. The NEHL committee is already looking at dates and venues for next year so if any club feels they would like to host a fixture don’t hesitate in coming forward.



Photos - Stuart Whitman Photography

Results -

1 comment:

  1. Awesome post office article great info keep posting thanks for posting
    liquid iv ingredient