Junior Harriers Join The Masses At Leeds

When Lancelot “Capability” Brown designed the landscaped grounds of Harewood House back in the 16th Century, I’m sure he’d never considered that one day they would be used by thousands of individuals to race against each other on foot! But last weekend, this was the setting for a huge turnout of the north’s best cross country runners, young and old, from many of the region’s clubs.

As a regular supporter of the event, Darlington Harriers once again had a strong presence across all age groups, including many of our Juniors from the Under 13’s up to the Under 20’s. It was a tough course, heavy going in places, with some long uphill stretches which really tested the athletes’ endurance.

Under 13 Girls Two of our keenest cross country runners were taking part in this 3km race today, both making their debut at the Northern Championships. The first of them to cross the line, and certainly one of the youngest of her age group (if not the youngest) was Gabby Hall – still in Year 7 at school and only 11 years old. She finished an amazing 20th out of 235 athletes in 12:19. To finish in the top 20 at her age is quite remarkable, and certainly bodes well for her future! Well done, Gabby, excellent work!

Next was Emily Vest who always gives it 100%…..and today was no exception. Emily crossed the line in a very respectable 158th in a time of 14:03. That’s no mean feet against a field of 235, and some of the country’s best young athletes. Well done, Emily, another excellent performance.

Under 13 Boys There were also two Under 13 boys from our Junior camp. Dylan Wilson took part in the Northern Counties Relay Championships last October, but this was his first attempt at the individual races…..and he performed to his usual high standard. A very respectable 101st place out of a field of 232 athletes, finishing the 3km circuit in 12:35. An excellent run, Dylan, well done. Our second Harriers hero was Emily’s younger brother, Matthew Vest. Matthew really was one of the youngest taking part today, having just turned 11 on Christmas Day!! He’s part of our Under 11 squad and a regular at the NYSD XC events so he really was up against it today….but he battled on to produce an excellent performance finishing 224th in 15:09. Not bad considering his age, and he’s just recovered from being ill!! Great stuff, Matthew, well done.

A great experience for all our Under 13 competitors, and one I’m sure they’ll build on for next year’s competition!

Under 15 Girls Another two of our Junior Harriers ran for the Under 15 Girls. As a regular competitor on the cross country scene, Emma Hart is also no stranger to the Northern Championships, having taken part in this competition three times before. This time, Emma pulled off another cracking performance against the other 185 athletes taking part, finishing in 42nd place in a time of 17:37. Well done Emma, once again you have proved your worth! Whether it’s track and field, cross country or park runs our 2nd competitor today is never far away. All-rounder, Megan Noble always gives it her all whatever she’s taking part in, and today was no exception. Another great run finishing 106th in 18:52 against some tough competition. Great stuff, Megan, well done!

Under 15 Boys A full quota of Under 15 boys today with six of our young Harriers taking part. Historically a strong team as far as performance goes, recently made even stronger by the addition of brothers, Adam and John Russell. Always a strong contender in any cross country run, Dan Boyer was the first of our boys home. He ran a fantastic race to finish in 23rd place, crossing the line in 14:52. Well done, Dan, another sterling effort.

Next to finish were new club members, Adam and John Russell. Not only was this their first time at the Northern Championships, it was also their debut wearing the blue and white of DHAC! Talk about in at the deep end! Adam was the first of the twins to finish with an impressive performance, crossing the line in 48th place in a time of 15:24…..and only 17 seconds behind him was John in 76th place. A fantastic effort from both the boys, proving themselves to be a great addition to the DHAC team. Well done to both of you, it’s great to have you on board!

Next to complete the course was James Roberts, running his third Northern Championships. As always, James produced another solid performance finishing in 91st in a time of 15:56. Great stuff, James, well done! Next, another regular for DHAC, whether it’s road, track, cross country, trail or even indoors, Liam Brittle will run anywhere! This was his fourth Northern Championships, and once again, another great run to add to his record, this time finishing 117th in 16:24. Well done, Liam.

Next, making his debut at the Northerns, another Harriers regular, Harry Wilson. A fantastic effort brought him home in 150th place in a time of 17:12. Excellent run, Harry, well done! On top of all that, the first 4 to finish goes towards the team event…..so together, Dan, Adam, John and James produced a fantastic team result, finishing in 9th place!! Which incidentally is the highest position of any of the NECAA clubs – quite an achievement. Want another stat? There was just over 1 minute between Dan and James finishing!! Well done to all.

Under 17 Girls The experience was obvious from our three Under 17’s taking part in today’s 5.5km race. First over the finish line for Darlington Harriers was India Pentland in an amazing 7th place! India, who is still one of the younger athletes in her age group, produced another impressive performance completing the circuit in 21:37. Although she was a little disappointed as she’d already beaten four of those in the top 6 at the Liverpool Cross Challenge, earlier this year – I guess that’s just how cross country goes sometimes. Still an excellent run, India, and one you should be proud of. Well done!

Our next junior Harrier to finish was Ellie Phillips – also no stranger to the Northern Championships, having competed five times previously! However, this was Ellie’s best performance by far finishing an impressive 35th out of the 93. An excellent time too – 24:07. Great stuff, Ellie, well done! Just less than a minute behind Ellie was another one of our most experienced young athletes, Stella Jones. Taking part in her 5th Northern Championships, Stella crossed the line in 53rd place in a time of 25:05. A great effort, Stella, well done!

Under 20 Women No Under 17 boys this time so it’s straight on to the oldest section of our juniors, both with bags of experience. Taking part in her fifth Northern Championships, Lucy-Erin Hunter ran a cracking race finishing in 9th place in a field of 60 athletes – her highest position in any of her previous Northerns. She crossed the line in an impressive 24:16 in this 6k event. A tremendous performance, well done, LucyErin!

Next up was Jade Hutchinson – Jade specialises in long distance, running 5k, 10k, half marathons and is a big supporter of the park runs. This was her second Northern Championships and she put up a good fight against some tough competition. After an excellent run she crossed the line in 39th place, finishing in 27:55. Great stuff, Jade, well done!

It was great to see so many of our Junior Harriers taking part today, competing at such a high level. I’m sure the older athletes have been a great inspiration to our younger members, who’ll continue their athletics for many years to come. Well done to all. #UTH!

Many thanks to those parents who sent in photos, they are a big help and very much appreciated! Also, big thanks to Karen Harland for use of her photos, more of which can be seen here. If you want to check out the full results of this event you can find them here

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