Tuesday 5 March 2024

NEHL Alnwick - 2 March 24 - Race Report


ON another occasion the Alnwick Harriers’ Start Fitness Harrier League promotion, under the backdrop of the imposing castle, usually brings down the curtain on the campaign, however, due to parking problems at both Lambton and Thornley, those two fixtures have been rearranged in the coming months consequently, weather permitting, there are two fixtures for cross-country enthusiasts still in the pipeline. That didn’t dull the enthusiasm in anyway of the Northumberland club however, who once again pulled out all the stops to host another well organised event which we have come to expect which is greatly appreciated by everyone who lined up in the Pastures despite having to face heavy squals of driving rain at times.


SENIOR MEN (11.2k)

At one stage in the proceedings it was a Morpeth one-two-three going into the second of three undulating circuits with Thomas Prentice heading Bertie Marr and Adam Pratt. However, entering the final circuit Newcastle University student Ed Woodhead had moved ahead of Pratt while Houghton’s Chris Coulson, working from a five-minute penalty, was steadily working through the 440+ strong field though the gaps were significantly large behind the leading quartet. 

Prentice continued to cut out a lone furrow at the head of affairs despite it being his first ever outing over the country to come home 25 seconds clear of Marr with Woodhead over a minute further adrift in third place. Coulson meanwhile, worked his way into the top 10 to finish eighth to be rewarded with the fastest overall time of the day. Second quickest was Heaton’s Chris Larkin, who crossed the line one place and a minute behind Coulson with Sunderland’s Stephen Jackson next best in 10th position. 

Despite having three counters in the top four Morpeth were denied team victory by Gateshead, led home by former Morpeth member Liam Roarty in fifth place, and Tyne Bridge with the Northumbrian outfit finishing third. Despite that Morpeth still head the Division One table with 10 points, three ahead of Gateshead with Durham City in third place four points further adrift. In Division Two Elswick came out on top ahead of Heaton with Crook in third place while in Division Three Newcastle University were clear winners ahead of Gosforth with South Shields in third place.



The first three athletes home took full advantage of a five-minute cushion to hold off their 300+ rivals with victory going to Durham City’s Nicole Burlinson who had a 52-seconds cushion over Gateshead’s Mary Ferrier, with Sunderland’s Grace Carroll a further eight seconds back in third place. Going into the final lap of two Burlinson, who will represent the North East at next weekend’s Inter Counties XC Championships, already had a comfortable lead with Ferrier, a former Northern XC champion at under-13, 15, 17 and 20 and now competing in the F35 age group, 40 metres or so ahead Carroll. 

All the while Morpeth’s Catriona Macdonald, who finished 10th in the previous weekend’'s Scottish National XC Championships, and Gateshead’s Shona Haston, were working their way steadily through the field from a five-minute handicap. MacDonald and Haston, who eventually came home in fifth and sixth places respectively with the two quickest times of the day, will also head for Nottingham as part of the North East team so, together with Burlinson, are in good fettle and should do well. 

In a tight Division One team contest Durham City came out on top with 39 points, Morpeth finished second with 42 and Elswick third with 43. Sunderland headed Division Two ahead Elvet Striders with Washington in third place. Host club Alnwick came out on top in Division Three despite having many members on marshalling duties, with Crook in second place ahead of Blyth.


UNDER-17 MEN (4.8k)

Elswick’s Sam Allison led throughout thanks to a 2min 5sec start over the fast pack. At the line Allison finished 48 seconds clear of Alnwick’s Harry Knox with team-mate Liam Mcdonough working his way through the field from the fast pack to claim the bronze award. Second quickest on the course was Crook’s Rory Hart in fifth place with North Shields Poly’s Ben Sproats next best. Morpeth, led home by sixth-placed Harry Armstrong, won the team race ahead of North Shields Poly and Low Fell.


UNDER-17/20 WOMEN (4.8k)

Durham City’s Ophelia Vesely (u20) held off all her rivals thanks to a 2:05 handicap while Charlotte Dillon (Houghton, u17) chased her all the way home to finish runner up from the fast pack. Blackhill Bounders’ Hatti Stead (u17), running from the medium pack, finished in third place. Second quickest u17 behind Dillon was Blaydon’s Ellie Fellows followed by Iona Johnstone of Gateshead. Quickest u20 was Birtley’s Katie Francis followed by Vesely and Elswick’s Imogen Bungay. Elswick won the team race finishing ahead of Tynedale and Durham City.


UNDER-15 BOYS (3.3k)

The 1min 40sec handicap proved to be not a problem for the medallists in the closest finish of the day as Tynedale’s Magnus Riddell got up on the line to beat Gateshead’s Alfie Cook with Freddie Palmer (Tyne Bridge) finishing in third place just edging ahead of team-mate Joe Whitfield in the closing stages. Tyne Bridge with Isaac Snell backing up Palmer and Whitfield, were comfortable team winners ahead of Sunderland and Blaydon.


UNDER-15 GIRLS (3.3k)

Holly Robison hauled on long-time leader Anna Palacin (Heaton) to claim victory from a 1min 40sec handicap. The Houghton athlete who also heads to Nottingham this Saturday, finished 35 seconds clear of Palacin with Durham City’s Grace Carter, running from the fast pack, crossing the line a further nine seconds adrift. Third quickest on the course was North Shields Poly’s Anna Johnson. Durham City won the team race ahead of Heaton and North Shields Poly.


UNDER-13 BOYS (3.3k)

It was a case of no problem for the medallists once again who finished one-two-three despite giving away 1min 40sec start. Wallsend’s Kasper Pearson was first home six seconds ahead of Tynedale’s Wilfred Pugh with Elswick’s Dominic Kelso completing the podium spots. It’s rare, with Henry Engelhart (Phoenix Flyers) finishing fourth also from the fast pack, for so many quicker runners working their way to the head of affairs with two fixtures still to come which augurs well for the Inter-Counties as all four boys will represent the team next weekend. Elswick won the team race with Tyne Bridge edging out Wallsend on countback to claim second place.


UNDER-13 GIRLS (3.3k)

Birtley’s Poppie Phillipson also defied a 1min 40sec penalty to break the tape 40 seconds clear of Gateshead’s Jessica Gould with Durham City’s Ellie Bradley, who was also from the fast pack, claiming third spot just ahead of Elswick’s Ayla Bright, also from the fast pack. Birtley came out on top in the team section finishing ahead of Elswick and Chester-le-Street.


UNDER-11 BOYS (1,000m)

Another close finish saw Low Fell’s William McClean hit the front close to home to edge out Alnwick’s Finlay Waugh by three seconds with Finlay Harwood (Tyne Bridge) a further two seconds adrift in third place. While numbers were down in the senior contests it was pleasing to see so many under-11s turning out – 62 in the boys contest and 59 in the girls’ event.


UNDER-11 GIRLS (1,000m)

Prudhoe Plodders, a club gradually growing in stature - they had eight finishers completing the tough course, had plenty to celebrate as Martha Carr claimed the gold award ahead of Wallsend’s Isla Aiston with Ruby Collins (Gosforth) finishing in third place.


**A HUGE thanks once again to Alnwick Harriers who certainly look forward each year to hosting a harrier league fixture; to all the marshals and technical officials who stood at their posts throughout the ‘inclement’ weather; to the first aid team who unfortunately, but rarely, had a number of incidents to contend with; and to Start Fitness for their continued support and finally to the Duke of Northumberland for the continuing use of the Pastures.



Full Results: North Eastern Harrier League 2023/24 Sponsored by Start Fitness

Photos - Stuart Whitman Photography

No comments:

Post a Comment