Sunday 22 October 2023

NEHL - Lambton Castle Estate - fixture postponed


Hi, I met with the Estate manager earlier today and next week's fixture is cancelled for 28th October, due to storm damage to the land and parking area. The landowners are keen to have us there, and we are working on possible dates in March 2024. Will keep you informed of updates and any confirmed date.

John Stephens

Druridge Bay Race Report - by Bill McGuirk


THE second fixture of the Start Fitness North Eastern Harrier League saw another huge turnout on a cold but sunny Autumn day at Druridge Bay. Close on 1,500 competitors lined up with many new faces testing themselves over a cross-country course for the very first time and judging by the smiles after crossing the finish those debutantes will be back again though the weather may not be so favourable as winter draws on.

UNDER-11 (1.5k)

Once again the Under-11 youngsters opened the day’s action in the ‘’Try Cross-Country” event and it was a triumph once more for the Penfold household with Noah winning the boys contest and Ada coming out on top in the girls race just as they had done at the opening fixture at Wrekenton. In fact, in the boys’ event Low Fell’s William McClean followed Noah home in second place at both Wrekenton and Druridge Bay. Jarrow and Hebburn’s Jacob Hopper claimed the third place award on this occasion after just missing out on a medal at Wrekenton. Meanwhile, in the girls’ event Chester-le-Street duo Joy Hunter and Faye Evans followed Ada home in second and third place respectively with Prudhoe’s Martha Carr, who was runner-up at Wrekenton, just missing out on this occasion in fourth place. There were 61 finishers in the boys race and a massive 82 in the girls event which is 22 more than the figure for Wrekenton.


UNDER-13 BOYS (3.3k)

Victory went to Elswick’s Ethan Eland who had a 15-seconds cushion over Morpeth’s Jacob Thompson at the line with Thompson’s team-mate Evan Laude a further four seconds back in third place. Fastest on the course, just as he was at Wrekenton, was Wallsend’s Kasper Pearson who worked his way through the 65-strong field to finish fourth from a 1min 40secs penalty. Morpeth came out on top in the team contest with sixth-placed Liam Jackson backing up Thompson and Laude as Elswick finished second ahead of Blaydon.


UNDER-13 GIRLS (3.3k)

Birtley’s Poppie Phillipson claimed a superb victory crossing the line 19 seconds clear after leading throughout the contest. Blackhill’s Annabelle Stead finished runner-up holding off Morpeth’s Zoe Tomlinson by three seconds. Phillipson’s 13:12 proved to be the quickest of the day with her Birtley team-mate Izzy Hall – winner at Wrekenton - second fastest after working her way through the 63-strong field to finish in sixth place from a 1:40 handicap. Third quickest was Durham City’s Ellie Bradley. Birtley won the team contest with 11th-placed Poppy Graham backing up Phillipson and Hall, while Newcastle outfits Elswick and Gosforth finished second and third respectively. After two fixtures Elswick lead with three points, Birtley are on five and Morpeth on seven.

UNDER-15 BOYS (3.3k)

Wallsend’s Joseph Duthie-Brown took full advantage of a 1:40 handicap to claim the honours with a 16-seconds victory over Durham City’s Harry Mason as Finn Pentland-Rice (Darlington) completed the one-two-three a further 10 seconds behind. Despite posting the fastest overall time Gateshead’s Alfie Cook just missed out on a podium place finishing in fourth place just three seconds adrift of Pentland-Rice. Second and third quickest on the course was Freddie Palmer (Tyne Bridge) with Tynedale’s Magnus Riddell next best. After two fixtures Heaton head the table on four points, Tynedale are second with six and Tyne Bridge third with seven.


UNDER-15 GIRLS (3.3k)

Another Phillipson celebration, this time it was Niamh who claimed victory over 42 rivals taking advantage of a 1:40 start as she was closed down all the way to the line by Houghton’s Holly Robison who cut back the deficit to within 18 seconds of the Birtley athlete. Morpeth’s Emma Tomlinson claimed the third-place award with Durham City’s Grace Carter second quickest on the course and Anna Johnson (North Shields Poly) third fastest. In the team contest North Shields Poly came out on top with 17 points followed by Morpeth (35) and Durham City (39) with the Poly heading the table after their second place at Wrekenton.


UNDER-17 MEN (4.7k)

Gateshead’s Sam Punn, winner of the Gateshead 3k, claimed a 15-seconds victory over Morpeth’s Oliver Tomlinson with Alnwick’s Jack Price completing the medal placings. From a 2:30 handicap North Shields Poly’s Ben Sproats worked his way through to seventh place one place and one second ahead of Wrekenton runner-up Freddie Hall (Darlington) with North Shields Poly’s Daniel Watson a further six seconds adrift as the trio posted the fastest overall times. In a tight team contest Gateshead came out on top (44pts) with Birtley (48) second and Morpeth claiming third place on count back ahead of Gosforth who both accumulated 49 pts. After two second places Birtley currently top the league table.


UNDER-17/20 WOMEN (4.7k)

Tynedale athletes were visible amongst the leaders early on and Emily Lunn proved the strongest to come home a clear winner. Newcastle Universities’ Imogen Dee came through in the latter stages to claim second place and finish ahead of Tynedale duo Maria Gaines and Esme Pugh, the Tynedale trio all contesting the younger age group while Dee was the first under-20 to finish. Quickest under-17 on the course was Gateshead’s Iona Johnstone who worked her way through the 43-strong field to finish 12th from a 2:30 handicap while the quickest under-20 was the Great Cumbrian half-marathon winner Elswick’s Imogen Bungay who finished one place and two seconds behind her younger rival. No surprise Tynedale came out on top in the team stakes with their second trio good enough to finish a non-scoring second ahead of North Shields Poly and Gateshead.



Having her first cross-country outing in five years the undulating course proved no obstacle for Sophie Pikett. The Elswick athlete has a string of victories on the roads since her move to the North East and she showed she is no slouch over the country as she produced a clean pair of heels to the rest of the 454-strong field. Always at the head of affairs Pikett was well clear at the completion of the first circuit and she continued to cut out a lone furrow to come home 22 seconds clear of Durham City’s Louise Mitchell with the duo posting the two fastest overall times of the day. Mitchell’s Durham team-mate Megan Finn finished in third place while the third quickest on the course was Morpeth’s Jane Hodgson who, from a 5:05 handicap. Worked her way through to finish in 19th place. Durham City came out on top in Division One finishing one point ahead of Morpeth in the four-to-score team race with South Shields edging out Elswick for third place; Sunderland Strollers led the way in Division Two ahead of Claremont and Ponteland Runners while Gosforth came out on top in Division Three ahead of Prudhoe Plodders with Birtley finishing in third place. After two fixtures Durham City head Division One on three points followed by Morpeth on six and Jesmond on eight; in Division Two Claremont head the table with three points followed by South Shields on five and Washington on six while in Division Three Blaydon are leading with seven points Birtley have nine and Prudhoe have 10 and Crook 11.


Like the senior women’s race an athlete led from gun to tape and it was Houghton international Cameron Allan who led throughout extending his advantage over the three circuits with every stride to come home a comfortable winner by well over a minute Heaton’s Chris Larkin tracked Allan throughout to finish runner-up while Morpeth teenager William De Vere-Owen finished strongly to claim the bronze award. 

It came as no surprise that Allan was overall quickest on the course with his Houghton team-mate Chris Coulson next best after working his way through the 551-strong field from a 5:00 handicap to finish in 14th place after getting away from Newcastle Uni’s Luke Davis on the final circuit as the student posted the third best time of the day seven seconds and one place behind Coulson. 

In the six-to-score team contests Morpeth came out on top ahead of North Shields Poly and Birtley, in Division Two Heaton led the way ahead of Houghton and Elswick while in Division Three Newcastle Uni lead from Gosforth and Alnwick. After two fixtures Division One is extremely close with North Shields Poly leading with five points followed by Morpeth on six, Durham City on seven, Gateshead on eight and Elswick on nine; in Division Two Heaton and Houghton are joint leaders with four points followed by Low Fell on five and Elswick on nine while in Division Three Gosforth lead with three points followed by Newcastle University on five, Strollers on eight and South Shields on nine.

**Thanks go to Blyth Running Club for once again hosting an excellent day’s sport, to the First Aid team and to all the marshalls and technical officials, without them all we wouldn’t have the leading cross-country league in the country!

by Bill McGuirk

Photos: Stuart Whitman Photography

Saturday 14 October 2023

NEHL Druridge Bay - 15/10/23


Hi all, details for this Sunday's second fixture of the season at Druridge Bay Country Park. Please see attached course / site map with details of laps for each event (should be self explanatory, I hope). Many thanks once again to BLYTH RUNNING CLUB for organising and hosting the fixture.
Post code for the country park is NE61 5BX, main turning into the park is from the A1068 whichever direction you're travelling from.


The race schedule will be as at the Harrier League website As for Wrekenton we are trialing amendments to start times for U17 men race through U13 girls (add 5 mins to website times), and the senior women will start at 1320. Senior men as advertised at 1350.


Druridge Bay (entrance)

Druridge Bay (course)


12.00 Under 11 Boys
12.05 Under 11 Girls
12.20 Under 17 men
12.25 U17 and U20 women
12.40 Under 15 Boys
12.45 Under 15 Girls
12:55 Under 13 boys
13:00 Under 13 girls
13.20 Senior & veteran women
13:50 Senior & veteran Men

Course Map

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 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 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.

RACE HQ OPENING TIMES: 1100 to 1300 

On the day entries 
I'll be taking limited entries on the day from clubs - DO NOT expect to rock up with 20 juniors and have them all sorted.  Race HQ will be extremely busy.  
Remember I need Name, Club, Date of Birth, and Sex (if it's not obvious).
If you have this pre-written on a bit of paper that would be great.

No DoB - No entry

Guests - register on the day as per normal

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 2023.  
Under 15 - must be 13 on 31st August 2023.
Under 17 men - must be 15 on 31st August 2023.
Under 17 & 20 women - must be 15 on 31st August 2023.
Senior Men - must be 17 on 31st August 2023.
Senior Women - must be 20 on 31st August 2023.

Athletes may NOT move up or down age categories

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.

M65+ Team Competition.
It was proposed and agreed to at the AGM that the M65 runners choosing to compete in the 2 lap shorter race with the ladies could have their own team competition.
The format will include 3 runners from the same club forming a team, and the runners must be M65+
At the moment this is a manual process (i.e. I'll be pulling the information from the results and posting an update once it's ready), and there's no prize unless someone wants to donate a cup, although I'm sure I can rustle up a few bottles of wine for the winning team.
It's a little something to keep our running legends motivated and competitive.
So - You guys normally in the 2 lap race don't need to do anything different to normal (just keep on running), and any Masters 65+ fellas who feel like they'd prefer to give this a go instead of slogging it round 3 laps need to come and swap out their numbers at race HQ.

I'll hopefully have a M65+ team update after Druridge Bay fixture

Results will be available on the usual link

Sunday 1 October 2023

NEHL Wrekenton 2023 Report by Bill McGuirk




THE wait was finally over - cross-country was back on the agenda and the region’s club athletes turned out in force for the Saltwell Harriers’ Start Fitness Harrier League fixture at the testing Wrekenton course. Over 1,500 competitors lined up in the 11-race programme eager to test themselves out in early-season competition and while the senior men and women’s events produced a superb spectacle as they wound their way around every yard of the course that can also be said for the under-11s “Try Cross-Country” who were all roared on over their one mile event by an enthusiastic crowd of parents and supporters despite occasional showers threatening to dampen the enthusiasm of those lining the running line.


UNDER-11 – one mile

IT was a good day for the Penfold family with Noah winning the boys contest for a second time and younger sister Ada taking the honours in the girls’ event. Seventy-one youngsters opened the day’s action with Noah coming home in 5min 56secs, 18 seconds clear of Low Fell’s William McClean with North Shields Poly’s Tom Hale completing the one-two-three a further six seconds adrift. Meanwhile, Ada led home a 60-strong field to win in 6:28 and was followed home by Martha Carr (Prudhoe Plodders) who is definitely not a plodder in recording 6:46, while Chester-le-Street’s Faye Evans received the third-place award recording 6:59.


UNDER-13 BOYS – two miles

DARLINGTON’S Ollie Curran came out on top of the 81-strong line-up after being pushed all the way to the line. At the tape, reached in 9:32, Ollie had a four-second gap over Crook’s Matty Richardson with Ollie’s team-mate Daniel Callaghan, easing home in third place 10 seconds back and holding off Henry Engelhart (Phoenix Flyers) by two seconds. Fastest on the course (9:06) was Wallsend’s Kasper Pearson – third last year running from the slow pack - who worked his way through to finish 14th from a 1min 15sec handicap. Tynedale’s Wilfred Pugh and Ewan Line (Morpeth) were second and third quickest respectively. No surprise Darlington came out on top in the team stakes with seventh-placed James I’Anson backing up Curran and Callaghan.


UNDER-13 GIRLS – two miles

BIRTLEY’S Izzy Hall was a gun-to-tape winner against 57 rivals crossing the line in 10:19, a time which proved to be the quickest of the day. Darlington’s Sasha Patterson finished runner-up 14 seconds behind with Morpeth’s Lucy Raper eight seconds back in third place. Second quickest on the course was Durham City’s Ellie Bradley (10:30) with Sasha next best with 10:33. Elswick, led home by fourth-placed Millie Robson, came out on top in team section ahead of Morpeth and Gateshead.


UNDER-15 BOYS – two miles

NOAH WILLIAMSON (North East Project) headed the 53-strong field pulling away from his rivals to win in 8:55. North Shields Poly’s James Sturman claimed second place eight seconds behind with Darlington’s Rowan Steel completing the podium places four seconds back after holding off Heaton’s Alex Smith by just one second. After working his way through to finish 11th from a 1:15 start, Tynedale’s Morgan Vincent was quickest on the course (8:24) with Gateshead’s Alfie Cook and William Jardine (Durham City) next best with 8:27 and 8:51 respectively. Darlington led home by third-placed Steel, won the team contest ahead of Heaton and Tynedale.


UNDER-15 GIRLS – two miles

IT was a Houghton one-two with Holly Robison just getting the better of team-mate Kathryn Pye in the final 100 metres to win by five seconds after the pair had run shoulder-to-shoulder from the off. Darlington’s Matilda Owens was rewarded with the bronze award seven seconds behind Kathryn. The first three athletes’ home were also the three fastest on the course which had 48 finishers. In a close team contest Darlington came out on top with 30 points, North Shields Poly were second with 36 and Durham City third with 38.


UNDER-17 MEN – three-and-a-half miles

NORTH Shields Poly’s Daniel Watson cut out a lone furrow as he stormed home to win comfortably with the fastest time of the day of 17:08. At the line Daniel had a cushion of 36 seconds over Darlington’s Freddie Hall with Alnwick’s Liam McDonough finishing in third place a further eight seconds adrift. There were 36 finishers with the Poly clear winners of the team section ahead of Birtley and Low Fell.


UNDER-17/20 WOMEN – three-and-a-half miles

DARLINGTON’S Freya Talman just had enough in reserve to hold off the fast-finishing Charlotte Dillon to win by six seconds. Charlotte was giving a 2min 30secs start to the winner but just failed to reel in Freya after recording an actual time of 18:47 as Tynedale’s Ania Stobbart completed the medal positions. Gateshead’s Aoife Bell was second quickest (20:07) with Imogen Bungay (Elswick) third fastest with 20:09 from a field of 46. Darlington won the team section ahead of Tynedale with Houghton third.


SENIOR MEN – six miles

MORPETH’S Joe Dixon, last winter’s Northern under-20 runner-up, led throughout taking full advantage of a start of 2:30 and 5:00 over the medium and fast packs respectively. New Gateshead recruit Shaun Hudson tracked him in second place for the first two circuits before James Largey (North East Project) reeled him in on the final lap to move into second place. However, Dixon, tackling senior opposition for the first time over the country, would never be headed and came home with nearly a minute to spare in 32:39, second-placed Largey recorded 33:26 and third-placed Hudson 34:13. 

Sunderland’s Liam Taylor was the pick of the medium pack finishing in fifth place with an actual time of 33:18 while inform Chris Coulson (Houghton), another athlete still in the junior ranks, defied the five minute handicap to finish in ninth place with the fastest actual time of the day of 31:11. 

Second quickest was Jarlath McKenna (Tyne Bridge) with 31:25 with Dixon next best with his 32:39. With two of the region’s younger athletes in the top three it gives the North East lots to shout about over the coming months. There were 572 finishers with Durham City the early pacemakers at the head of Division One ahead of near neighbours Elvet Striders in second place with North Shields Poly third; in Division Two Low Fell set the pace ahead of Houghton and Heaton while Gosforth lead the way in Division Three from South Shields and Sunderland Strollers.


SENIOR WOMEN – four miles

MAKING her senior debut proved not a problem for Houghton’s Anna Pigford who led throughout to win comfortably in 25:57, from Heaton’s Jo Woodcock and Durham City’s Katie Iliffe, the latter running from a 2:30 handicap. Fastest on the course was Morpeth’s Catriona MacDonald who managed to work her way through the 465-strong field to finish in ninth place in an actual time of 23:43. Second quickest was Gateshead’s Shona Haston (24:33) with Morpeth’s Jane Hodgson next best with 24:41. North Shields Poly head Division One from Durham City and Jesmond Joggers; Claremont lead Division Two from Washington and Sunderland while Derwent Valley RC head near neighbours Blaydon in Division Three with Blyth in third place.


**A HUGE thanks to Saltwell Harriers for hosting an excellent event; to all the club’s marshals who stirred on the fast and not so fast; to the First Aid crew who unfortunately had their work cut out throughout the day and to all the technical officials who were at their posts throughout the day. A special word of thanks to the HL treasurer Alan Elders who has taken up the reins as the chip timing supremo, thankfully his baptism went off relatively smoothly!



Photos by Stuart Whitman