Juniors Take On England’s Best

The ESAA National Cross Country Championship is one of the most eagerly anticipated events of the winter for young athletes, bringing together the best athletes in each of the 46 Counties in England to compete for the honour of being the best in the Country. Teams of 12, of which eight are allowed to compete, were selected based on results from the previous County and InterCounties matches – in all, around 2000 athletes competing on the day! This, of course, included an impressive line up of talent from our own juniors, all wearing their County vests with pride.

An excellent run from Anna representing Cleveland Schools

Conditions underfoot were a huge improvement on last week’s mudfest at Loughborough, but it was bitterly cold, and snow clouds loomed menacingly overhead. Here’s how the day’s events unfolded…..
Junior Girls Having competed at the same event last year, this was take two for Under 15 Harrier, Anna Reeves. Representing Cleveland Schools, she put up a strong battle against the tough competition, and said afterwards that she’d enjoyed the race despite the very cold, changeable weather. Anna completed the 3100m course in 267th place out of the 342 taking part, crossing the line in an excellent time of 13:29. Well done, Anna, a great effort!

Junior Boys It was great to see John and Adam Russell sporting their Durham County vests again in this, their first English Schools’ Championships. There’s always some healthy sibling rivalry between the boys, but at the same time they’re very supportive of each other; consequently there’s never much between them. It was the same again today, the only question being who was going to get the upper hand this time? Cracking runs from both of them, but it was John who completed the 4100m course first in 43rd place in a time of 15:09……and only 3 seconds behind, Adam in 46th place, 2nd and 3rd counters for the Durham team. A fantastic achievement, well done boys!

Another strong run in their County colours for twin brothers John (left) and Adam (right)

Inter Girls A great presence from our Junior Harriers in this age group with India Pentland, Catherine Roberts and Ellie Phillips running for Durham, and Emma Hart running for North Yorkshire. With India going into this race on the back of her first National medal from the week before, her confidence must have been sky high! It certainly looked that way as she went on to produce another outstanding performance, to finish the 3800m course in 5th place, crossing the line in 13:36! An amazing achievement in itself, but as we mentioned in last week’s report, India has now been selected to run for England in Saturday’s home international event at Nottingham. Truly exceptional! Well done, India! Another Harrier well averse in stepping out in the County colours is Under 17, Catherine Roberts. Whether it’s on the track or cross country, Catherine is always a serious contender and today was no exception…..she had a cracking run and finished in 21st place, crossing the line in 14:39. Well done, Catherine, a tremendous performance!

India pulls off another convincing performance Catherine looking strong as always

Inter Girls Next home was our ‘Yorkshire Girl,’ Emma Hart. Emma has just moved up to Under 17, but is another young Harrier who has a wealth of experience on the track and cross country, running at County, InterCounty and National level. Another great run to add to her record today finishing 166th in an excellent time of 16:00 exactly. Just to put that into perspective, if Emma had finished just 1 minute earlier, she would have been in 43rd place! Our 4th Harrier to cross the line was Ellie Phillips; another experienced young athlete who’s had a fantastic cross country season. Only 15 seconds behind Emma, which under normal circumstance would mean a few places, but here, with the sea of athletes crossing the line, Ellie finished in 202nd place out of the 339 taking part. Still a great result at this level, so well done Ellie! Some excellent results overall, helping the Durham girls finish 7th in the team event. Great stuff girls, well done!

Emma with ‘war paint’ in County colours Ellie adds another great performance to her season

Inter Boys Two of our junior Harriers had been selected to run for Durham in this age group; Daniel Boyer and James Roberts. Both boys have had a super season, performing really well for their school, club and County. We know that Dan was disappointed with the result here today finishing the 5200m race in 257th place, in a time of 20:43. James was little over a minute behind Dan in 324th place, crossing the line in 22:05. Remember this is against the best cross country runners in England so the boys shouldn’t be too despondent; being selected to run here in the first place is an accolade in itself – and some days it just doesn’t go your way! So well done to both boys, a great effort!

Inter Boys, Dan (left) and James (right) both working hard against the tough competition

Senior Girls We had two of our Harriers selected for the Durham squad here; Lucy-Erin Hunter and Stella Jones. As you can imagine at this age, both have a wealth of experience and have run at National level on many occasions. Lucy-Erin was the first Durham girl to cross the line in this 4100m race, finishing in 53rd place in an excellent time of 17:20. A great result, well done! Stella completed the circuit in 19:00 exactly, coming home in 171st place out of the 323 taking part. Still a great run, especially competing at this level of athletics, so well done Stella!

A great day for our junior Harriers and no doubt a great experience for the younger members of the team. Overall some quality performances, and to top it all, that England selection for India. Well done to all! #UTH!

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