Junior NEHL XC Roundup

Wrekenton – Sep 23rd 2023

The first North East Harrier League (NEHL) XC fixture took place in September at Wrekenton, Gateshead. An 18 strong Junior team arrived ready for action in Autumnal sun, but conditions quickly turned into more typical XC weather as wind and rain moved in, just in time for the racing!

The NEHL league features a ‘Slow’ pack, a ‘Fast’ pack and in some larger races, a ‘Medium’ pack. In essence, the faster pack start anywhere between 1:20-1:40 after the slower pack depending on race distance, so you might not always see the faster runners win the race. The team prizes are also awarded based on finishing position, rather than actual race times, however, the individual championship places are decided on race times.

Most of our runners (if not all) started in the ‘Slow’ pack for this first event of the season, but good performances would see them promoted to the faster pack for future races. We had a number of superb performances on the day with team wins in the U13 Boys, U15 Boys, U15 Girls and U17/U20 Girls. The NEHL (and NEGP for track) races are largely viewed as the best standard in the North East, so everyone should be really proud of their performance and it was great to see such a good Junior turnout.

As a number of our runners will find themselves in the fast pack next time they race, winning the team awards will become more difficult, especially as it means a number of our 1st year athletes will be starting at the same time as the 2nd year athletes in each age category. They’re a talented bunch though and I’m sure they’ll relish the challenge!

Results are below, showing the race finishing position, chip time (timed from when their pack starts rather than when the race starts), and overall position based on their chip time. The chip time gives a truer reflection of performance against the whole field and as mentioned, is what counts in the individual championship.

U11 Girls

Carmen Strehlow 11th (7:35)

U13 Boys (1st)

A very Solid team at U13 level for the boys, with lots of competition amongst them for places and only 47 seconds covering the 5 of them. Ollie coming out on top, finishing 1st after starting from the ‘Slow’ pack, achieving the joint 6th fastest time overall. Even more impressive as he is only in his first year as an U13.

Ollie Curran 1st (6th – 9:32)
Dan Callaghan 3rd (12th – 9:46)
James I’Anson 7th (20th – 9:59)
Donovan Tarn 8th (21st – 10:00)
Lucas Rogers 12th (29th – 10:19)

U13 Girls

Although we didn’t have enough runners to make a full girls team, Sasha continued her impressive performances from track season into XC, finishing 2nd and 3rd fastest overall. She will no doubt move up to the faster pack for the next race! Well done girls!

Sasha Patterson 2nd (3rd – 10:33)
Beth Graham 53rd (14:17)

U15 Boys (1st)

More excellent performances at U15 level. With all 3 boys starting in the slow pack, we had two top 10 finishes from Rowan and Matthew with Finn bringing home the team win as the final counter.

Rowan Steel 3rd (6th – 9:07)
Matthew Foster 5th (11th – 9:20)
Finn Pentland-Rice 16th (24th – 10:06)

U15 Girls (1st)

Another team win at U15 level as the girls also performed very well. Charlotte just behind sister Matilda as they came home in 4th and 3rd respectively, with Chloe having a good run to wrap up the team win. It’s extremely likely that both Matilda and Charlotte will start in the fast pack next time out.

Matilda Owens 3rd (3rd – 9:53)
Charlotte Owens 4th (9th – 10:18)
Chloe Graham 23rd (26th – 11:44)

U17 Boys

Freddie was our sole representative in the U17 Boys race, finishing a superb 2nd in arguably the performance of the day. Freddie finished track season with some good runs and he looks very much at home on the hills and mud of XC!

Freddie Hall 2nd (17:44)

U17/U20 Girls (1st)

The final team win came from the mixed U17/U20 Girls team. Freya took the glory of reaching the finishing tape first. Starting from the slow pack, all 3 girls clocked times inside the top 15 to take the win. Again, we expect all 3 to be starting in the fast pack next time.

Freya Talman 1st (8th – 21:11)
Macy Kelly 7th (13th – 21:48)
Savannah Tarn 8th (14th – 22:04)

Druridge Bay – Oct 15th 2023

In contrast to the Wrekenton event, we only had 3 junior finishers at the 2nd NEHL XC of the season. It’s a 135 mile round trip to the Northumberland coast event at Druridge Bay, so kudos to those that made the long trip.

U15 Boys

After finishing 24th fastest at Wrekenton last time out, Finn maintained his position in the slow pack start. He was amongst the leading runners throughout, as the fast pack worked hard to close them down. Rowan’s previous 6th fastest time earned him a place in the chasing fast pack this time. Rowan finished in 18th position in 11.34, again achieving the 6th fastest time overall. Finn held on for a podium position running 12:47 and improving on last time to run the 16th fastest time overall. Not enough team members for a team position unfortunately, but 2 great runs from the boys nonetheless.

Finn Pentland-Rice 3rd (16th – 12:47)
Rowan Steel 18th (6th – 11:34)

U17 Boys

Freddie was once again the only U17 boy taking part and he continued to impress, finishing 8th starting from the fast pack and with the 2nd fastest time overall, just 1 second behind the winner (a misunderstanding approaching the finish may even have cost him the win!) To put the performance into perspective, at Wrekenton, Freddie finished 36 seconds behind the impressive Daniel Watson of North Shields Poly. This time however, Freddie got the better of Daniel by 6 seconds… superb running!

Freddie Hall 8th (2nd – 16:03)

Many thanks once again to Bernie who gave up her own race to make sure the Juniors were properly prepared both in training sessions and pre-run warm-ups, and for all the encouragement provided during their races.

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