With a number of races throughout the academic year, the Harrier League gives University runners a fantastic chance to test their fitness in-between the bigger intra-University competitions dotted around the calendar. Competition comes from all ages as local runners mix with younger athletes for what is always a busy race. Race days open with juniors and finish with senior men as runners tackle the muddy offerings of the North East. And this year, NUAXC started in top form.
On arriving in Wrekenton, the team (some feeling fresh, others not so fresh) set off to walk the course, and it was soon evident that the heavy rainfall over the week meant a soggy race was on the cards.
The women’s team, comprised of cross-country captain Lauren Davies-Beckett, Anna Keeble, Emily Davis and club president Shona Haston, were the first to race. Lauren, Anna and Emily were first off the mark in the race’s big pack as they made their Harrier League debut, whilst Shona was hot on their heels five minutes later in the ‘fast-pack’ thanks to hard-earned promotions last year. The 4-mile course consisted of two laps, each featuring a few hills and plenty of puddles. Out of the 499 runners in the race, Shona finished with the 5th quickest time, Lauren 11th, Anna 29th and Emily 57th fastest - even more impressive considering Emily is predominantly a 400m runner.
Now that the course had been nicely churned up from the earlier races, it was time for the men’s 6-mile race. Fellow cross-country captain Chris Larkin, club social secretary Toby Loveday, Sam Hansen and David Warnes made up Newcastle’s team, with Sam and David starting from the medium pack, two and a half minutes after Chris and Toby. Chris ran the 11th quickest time, David 46th, Toby 78th and Sam 165th out of 666 runners in their race. Chris also managed to bag himself a bronze medal, crossing the finish line in 3rd place – which we love to see!
The first cross-country of the season was a good one, with Lauren and Anna earning promotion to the medium pack by being in the top 10% of finishers to cross the line. Chris and Toby both also gained promotion to join Sam and David in the medium pack for the next race.
The whole team enjoyed the day and are looking forward to a busy season of Harrier League races across the North-East!