Hardy Juniors Battle It Out In Winter Wonderland!

The Course

The map above is a good representation of what awaited our athletes last weekend, as a white blanket of snow and ice covered the whole circuit. Nice to look at, but not the best stuff to have underfoot when you’re running! But the teams from Cleveland, Cumbria, Durham, Northumberland and North Yorkshire didn’t let the tough conditions put them off; they battled against the elements, as well as each other, in a bid to qualify for the prestigious English Schools’ Cross Country National Finals.
We’ve followed our Junior Harriers as they represented their schools locally, then their towns at County level…..and now they proudly don their County colours on the next step of their journey

Minor Boys One young man who’s having a season to remember is Alex Boyer, and he shows no sign of slowing down yet! Having already won the Darlington and then the Durham County XC Championships with apparent ease, today he faced opposition from a bit further afield so it was going to be interesting to see how well he faired. It wasn’t too long before Alex established himself at the front, and he continued to look strong throughout the whole race. He paced himself like a seasoned professional, and although the margin wasn’t quite as huge as last time (which is to be expected), yet again he crossed the line in first place in a time of 10:20. A fantastic result! And what makes it even more impressive is that he’d already competed in a swimming competition earlier that morning! This boy is a machine!

Next up, and certainly making a name for himself was new Harrier member, Harry Lyons, this time running for Cleveland. He first showed us what he’s made of a couple of weeks ago in the NYSD XC at Ormesby, and once again he was turning heads with another outstanding performance. He demolishedthe 2.6k course in 10:48, finishing in an excellent 11th place!

Our third and fourth Harriers to finish were Elwood Kelley and Josh Scott, with just a few seconds between them. After another impressive run, Elwood was the first of the Durham duo to cross the line in 34th place in a time of 11:20, with Josh hot on his heals just 4 seconds behind in 35th. And not too far behind was Harrier teammate, Matthew Vest. After a great effort against some tough competition, Matthew crossed the finish line in 46th place in an excellent time of 11:38. A fantastic performance from all the boys today. To get this far is an achievement in itself and whatever the result, they should all be very proud of themselves! So what next? Well, for the Minor age groups this is as far as it goes. Only the Junior, Inter and Senior age groups can progress to the Nationals, so our youngsters can look forward to doing it all again next year! Well done to all!

Harry in action at Ormesby

Also worthy of recognition, our Cleveland Schools County Champion, Libby Hammond who was due to run here today in the Minor Girls race. We mentioned in the last report that she’d been suffering with a chest infection…..unfortunately this meant she also had to pull out of this event as well. That’s two major races in two weekends she’s missed due to illness. It’s been so frustrating for her, but the good news is, she’son the mend and will be back at training very soon! It’ll be great to have you back Libby!

Junior Boys With Dylan Wilson away skiing with his school (although he could have done plenty of that here today!) it was left to Daniel Richardson to fly the Harrier flag in the Junior Boys race. It was going to be a tough one for him today, still being in the first year of this age group. But he dug deep and gave it his all, completing the 4k course in 16:55, crossing the line in a very respectable 39th place; an excellent result considering the older opposition. Well done Daniel, roll on next year!

Junior Girls There were two more excellent runs from two more Harrier talents in the Junior Girls race . First up was Mia Wetherill; as usual she put in a great effort and came home in a very respectable 43rd place – not bad at all out of a field of 71 of the North’s best athletes. She completed the 3k circuit in an impressive 11:49. Next, running for Cleveland, was U13 Harrier, Fern Shelton. If you remember in the last round, Fern found herself running in the wrong race with the Inter Girls…..and she still qualified! This time she was in the right race, but still up against some tough competition; added to which she is still in the first year of the age group. Fern crossed the line in 63rd place in a time of 12:24. Top running girls! Well done to both.

Inter Boys The usual culprits were back in action again for the Inter boys; without doubt four of Durham’s best! The first of them to complete the 5.3k circuit was big brother to Alex, Dan Boyer. Always supportive of each other, the Boyers are one talented family, and Dan was the first of our boys to cross the line, finishing in 14th place (2nd for Durham.) An excellent time too of 18:11. Next and continuing the family theme, were twin brothers Adam & John Russell. As always it was a close run thing between these competitive siblings, with just a few places separating them at the line. After some top running from both boys, Adam finished in 23rd place in a time of 18:31 and John in 26th place, crossing the line in 18:42. And finally, another solid performance came from James Roberts. He battled his way around this tough course to finish in 62nd place in a time of 21:03. An excellent overall performance from our boys, which also helped the Durham Inter Boys take 2nd place in the team event! Well doneto all.

Inter Girls Quite a few to get through here, and a mix of Counties as well – 2 Durham, 3 Cleveland and 1 North Yorkshire. The first of our Harrier girls to finish was Megan Noble for Durham. As always Megan gave this 100% effort and completed the 4k circuit in 30th place out of the 69 finishers, crossing the line in an excellent time of 18:21.

Next up, and representing Durham again was Harriet Rogers. Harriet has cut back on her athletics more recently in favour of her swimming, but she’s still a tough cookie when it comes to cross country as she showed it again today. She finished not too far behind Megan in 37th place, in a time of 18:41. Next was the first of our Cleveland trio, Jess Hall. Jess has struggled to get to training this year put has proved she’s still in good shape by making it this far. She put in a great effort today finishing in 49th place in a time of 19.18.

Another Harrier who hasn’t competed much over the last year due to other sporting commitments is Hannah Reeves. She’s always up there when it comes to schools cross country though and today she put in another fine performance for Cleveland to finish 55th in a time of 19:43. Emma Hart has put her athletics on the back burner, for now at least, so it was great to see her back in action today, representing North Yorkshire. A fantastic effort under the circumstances, finishing 61st in a time of 20:28. If only Charlotte Rutter could sprint the whole 4k as fast as she sprints to 100m! For someone who loves her athletics, getting this far was a bonus so she went along today just to enjoy the whole experience, and according to her Mum, “she had a ball!” After a fantastic effort, she crossed the finish line with a smile on her face in 68th place, in a time of 22:06. If nothing else, Charlotte has proved that she’s a true all rounder! A fine performance from our Super Six today…..and with all but Megan in the first year of this age group, things are lining up nicely for next year…..we may even see Charlotte back again

Senior Girls With India Pentland already qualifying for the Nationals by winning the County race, and Ellie Phillips unable to run today, Catherine Roberts was our only Harrier in the Senior Girls race. She’d opted not to run at the County race as she was still recovering from an injury over the summer which had just about mended; but with having the Northern Championships the week after she made the sensible decision to give Barney a miss and run here instead. However, if she was to get to the National Finals she would have to do well today – so you could say the pressure was on! But Catherine being Catherine took it all in her stride and performed admirably, completing the 4k course in a fantastic 6th place (1st for Durham), crossing the line in an excellent time of 17:06. An outstanding result, just when it was needed! Well done Catherine

A fantastic overall performance from our Juniors, with some outstanding individual performances. So the big question now is, who’s made it through to the National Finals? Well, just to make things complicated, the different Counties have different selection criteria so without going into the finer detail, as things currently stand, huge congratulations go out to the following Junior Harriers:
Daniel Richardson Daniel Boyer Adam Russell John Russell Jess Hall India Pentland Catherine Roberts Ellie Phillips
Reserves Mia Wetherill Harriet Rogers Megan Noble

They will be part of their County team at the English Schools’ National Championships which take place at Temple Newsam Park, Leeds on 16th March…..and just a little reminder from endurance coach, Bernadette Caygill: “they’ve had 3 busy weekends of races, now it’s 3 hard weeks of training before the Nationals!!” We’re sure they’ll all appreciate that! Best of luck to everyone

Many thanks for your photos. The official Durham County photos can be seen here

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