Northern Cross Country Championships – 27th January 2024

After last years trek to Blackburn, the Northern XC Champs were much closer to home this year, conveniently just a 15 mile trip up the A1 to Sedgefield. Being so close to home, we were taking 25 Junior and 7 Senior athletes across nearly every category!

Held in East Park just over the road from Hardwick Park, conditions on the day were very good underfoot with very little mud despite the extremely wet winter we’ve had and very different to the waterlogged fields many would have seen on their journey up North. The rain stayed away for the duration thankfully and sun even threatened to come out at times although it never really stuck around. There was still a chill in the air, but the club tent, Jamie’s hot chocolate station and the many cakes, doughnuts and biscuits supplied by parents provided a great base for our runners.

Like the Southern equivalent, the Northern Championships are just one step below National standard with runners coming from as far away as Liverpool and Manchester in the West, Sheffield in the South, Lincoln and Hull in the East and Alnwick in the North, with many of the countries’ best runners in attendance.

U13 Girls

Our only representative in this race was Sasha Patterson, finishing in 36th/109 in 11:59. An excellent result finishing in the top 33%, especially as Sasha is a first year U13. Amazingly, there was just 6 seconds between the Top 5 finishers in this race with the winner, Ruth Friend of Leeds, crossing the line in 10:45. Gabrielle Pinder of New Marske Harriers was the top North East finisher in 4th place.

U13 Boys

We have a comparatively large group of talented U13 Boys, with 7 taking part in this race. Ollie Curran was the pick of the bunch as first Harrier home in 12th place. A superb result, again, as a first year U13. Ollie’s time of 10:40 was only 30 seconds off the winning time of Thomas McCartie of Middlesbrough and just 14 seconds behind Ewan Line of Morpeth in 2nd place!

Another 1st year U13, Louie Heslop (11:06) was 2nd Harrier to finish in 30th place followed by yet another first year, Dan Callaghan (11:27) in 49th. As predicted in the last report, the 2nd year U13 boys are generally very close in ability and you could pick names out of a hat as to who would finish in what order! This time it was James I’Anson (11:34) with a great run for 54th followed by Donovan Tarn (11:42) in 58th and Lucas Rogers (11:57) in 65th. Monty Bowden (12:07) completed the line-up in 73rd. To have all 7 runners in the top 2/3rds of the field was a great achievement and the team finished 6th overall.

U15 Girls

We had Matilda and Charlotte Owens, Lottie Graves and Caitlin Lloyd in this category with the girls finishing 12th overall in the team competition.

Matilda was coming into this race as the Durham County champion and a number of the girls she faced at Farringdon were also running here. Matilda (14:27) finished 25th with sister Charlotte (14:38) in 29th. Just to give context to the level of competition at this age group, Holly Robison and Kathryn Pye who Matilda beat in the Durham Champs, finished 16th and 21st respectively in this race. These girls really do push each other to be better every time they run!

Caitlin (17:28) crossed the line in 105th with all-rounder Lottie (18:08) not far behind in 110th. Well done girls!

U15 Boys

Another big turnout in this age category with Rowan Steel, Dan I’Anson, Finn Pentland-Rice, Matthew Foster, Tom Hoole and Willoughby Croslegh on the start line.

This age group has some fantastic athletes from the Northern region including Evan Grime, who is the U15 1500m UK record holder with 3:54.36 and Tom Thake who has won the London Mini-Marathon, English National XC and National Inter-Counties XC, some as a 1st year athlete!

It was Evan Grime who looked a cut above the rest, leading from the gun and quickly establishing a 10 metre advantage over the field after the first 800m. He never looked in danger and won at a canter by 20 seconds. Tom Thake was running 3rd in the early stages before fading back to 7th.

Rowan (12:45) was Harrier’s first finisher in an excellent 27th place, 1:23 behind the winning time but only a few seconds behind the North East trio of Arthur Di Lullo, Noah Williamson and Freddie Palmer. Dan I’Anson (13:25) had a great race to finish 58th and Finn (13:51) reversed the positions from the Durham County race to finish 69th just edging out Matthew this time (14:00) in 72nd. Tom came home in 84th a further 20 seconds back and Willoughby, who made a late decision to run after battling a serious cough in the weeks building up to the race, finished 107th.

The boys finished a very credible 5th overall in the team competition. Superb work!

U17 Women

Our usual trio of Zara Jones, Freya Talman and Savannah Tarn were our representatives again at U17 level. Like a lot of our runners this season, all are 1st year at this level running against older girls.

The race was very close at the front during the first lap, with 5 girls (including Zara) making a break away from the field and running in a group. Eventually gaps started to form during lap 2 and it was Lottie Langan of York who stretched away to finish 10 seconds ahead of Georgia Bell of Leven Valley. Zara was in the mix early on and managed to extend a 10 second advantage over the runner behind for the result of the day, 5th place in 17:35! Only 39 seconds behind the winner. 3rd and 4th place were awarded the exact same time in a fantastic sprint finish.

Freya (20:16) finished 52nd and Savannah (21:40) finished 70th out of a field of 82. Unfortunately they were 1 runner short of a team placing.

U17 Men

Alex Boyer, Aiden Colmer and Owen Ovens were part of the 80 strong field in this one.

Ben Sproats (5th) of North Sheilds Poly, Elliot Kelso (11th) of Morpeth and Rory Hart (21st) of Crook were the Top 3 from the North East.

Alex finished 4th in the North East in 21st postion with a time of 19:29, followed by Aiden (20:12) in 39th and Owen (20:41) in 50th. Again, 1 runner short for a team placing with Freddie Hall resting before the Inter-Counties race the following week (Now cancelled unfortunately).

Junior Women

Macy Kelly was our sole runner in the Junior (U20) Women category. Macy, I believe, is a 1st year U20 and came 34th out of 37 in 25:26 against many older athletes. Well done Macy!

Senior Men

It was great to see a full team of Senior Men testing themselves against the best the North could offer!

7 runners were taking to the start line with the top 6 finishers to count for the team competition. Dan Boyer provided the youthful legs with Michael Harcourt, Adam Mitchell, Ed Lamb, Wes Tarn, Simon Rogers and Jamie Callaghan (taking a break from the hot chocolate station), providing the ‘experience’!

As expected, Gateshead’s Callum Johnson took top honours, taking the win by a huge 30 seconds. Carl Avery of Morpeth made it 2 North East men in the Top 4.

Dan Boyer (44:47) was first Harrier to finish, taking 90th position from a huge field of 439 runners. Michael (45:33) was hot on his heels in 107th, 46 seconds behind. Adam Mitchell (45:40) was just 4 places and 7 seconds behind Michael in 111th followed by Ed Lamb (47:42) in 153rd. Wes Tarn (47:59) wasn’t far behind Ed in 159th and he had a 5 minute lead over Simon (53:04) in 264th. Jamie brought the team home in 335th position in 57:58, eager no doubt to get some hot drinks on the go!

Superb work from the guys to finish 13th/29 in the team competition!

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