Sports Editor James Sproston spoke to Sean Hodges about the upcoming Cow Bell Road Race and NUAXC’s season.
To say Newcastle University Athletics and Cross Country Club have an exciting year planned is an understatement. However, NUAXC have already been busy.
Back in October, the cross country season got underway at Durham PvP (Past vs Present), where Newcastle competed against runners from Durham and Northumbria in the North East meet.
Next, in November, Newcastle took 25 cross country runners to Edinburgh for the Braids Hill race. Everyone from the club performed well, but the women’s runners defied expectations. The girls 5km team, consisting of Amelia Pettitt, Charis Taylor, Shona Haston & Clara Pettitt won their event, beating strong Leeds, Manchester and Edinburgh sides.
More recently, the BUCS Cross Country Championships tested Newcastle's runners in brutal conditions, leading them through mud baths, up steep hills, and over hay bales. Out of the 650 female runners, eight were representing NUAXC, with Charis Taylor finishing the 7.4km course in 58th position. The boys also made a lasting impression, with Alex Stokes' streak being the most memorable performance of the day.
It’s no surprise that Newcastle have performed so well. NUAXC’s membership has increased this year, recruiting some especially talented women who have impressed already this season
In terms of cross country, the club are making even more steps to establish themselves as a heavyweight on the circuit. Since Edinburgh, Leeds and Manchester all have events, NUAXC are introducing their own, the Cow Bell Road Race.
Though it was originally meant to be a cross country race on the Town Moor, the event has developed into a road race. The club are keen for it to be a link-up between the society and the university, so if anyone missed the start of the season, this is the perfect opportunity to get involved.
Other clubs are also getting in on the act. Team Newcastle Triathlon and Newcastle University Running Club are taking part, with the aim of increased cooperation between the clubs in the future. Similarly, NUAXC will look to get other universities involved in the future if not this year.
"Everyone from the club performed well, but the women’s runners defied expectations"
On top of this, the club are also getting local running clubs involved. From this, NUAXC are hoping for high performing clubs to improve the standard of the field, as well as appeal to those who don’t usually compete. Again, the club are hoping for this to be the start of an ongoing cooperation between the university and the local community.
Besides the Cow Bell Road Race, the club still have a busy 2017 to look forward to. On Wednesday 1st February, NUAXC took 13 athletes down to Sheffield for the prestigious Steel Cup. The club competed in 10 events, with PBs for Jack Olsen in the 60m and 200m, Cameron Cutts in the 800m, Isabel Taylor in the 200m, Hannah Shepherd in the 60mh and 400m.
This success should be considered great preparation ahead of the BUCS Indoor event in 16 days’ time. There were plenty of PBs, as well as people opening their season in very fast times, so the team is looking to be in great shape to do very well. As always, the athletics will be streamed on the club’s Twitter page, @NUAXC.
Stan Calvert is also in the athletics calendar, though not cross country since Northumbria still can’t stand competing against a team they’ll know they’ll lose to. The athletics is yet again at Gateshead Stadium, but there’ll be no football to distract from the event this time. That’ll all be kicking off at 9am on Super Sunday, the 26th of February.
The Cow Bell Road Race takes place on the 18th of February, with the women’s 5km race taking place at 1pm, and the men’s 5mile race starting at 2pm. Tickets are available now for Newcastle students, with a generous £1 discount for anyone studying at Newcastle. The link can be found on the NUAXC page on the NUSU website https://www.nusu.co.uk/getinvolved/sports/club/6064/.