The first taste of the winter weather didn’t put off the cross-country team as 24 members, armed with their brand new (and much appreciated) club tent, braved the sleet and wind for the latest race in the North East Harrier League series on Saturday 27th October at Gosforth Park. The weather, although not ideal, made for proper cross-country conditions and with the tent up and face paint on, the 10 men and 14 ladies from NUAXC were in high spirits.
The Harrier League is raced in packs based on previous performances, with everyone starting off in the slow pack, then the top 10%, or top 20% for the under 20 women, gaining promotion into a faster pack. The medium pack sets off 2.5 minutes behind and those who have found themselves in the fast pack have to wait 5 minutes after the first lot of runners to set off.
First to race were the under 20 women, who ran a 3-mile loop. All 6 of the club’s runners in this race were new to the league, so started off in the slow pack. Olivia Dowle and Erin Gallagher, both freshers to the club, ran great races to finish 1st and 2nd respectively. Also showing impressive performances were Anna Keeble, who finished 16th, Emily Oakshott in 18th, Julia Smith in 28th and Katie Hall in 37th out of a strong field of 38 runners. Everyone’s individual efforts paid off with a win for the team and Olivia and Erin both moving up to the medium back for the next race.
Next up to race were the senior women, running a 4-mile course made up of 2 laps. First to set off were Gougy Sneddon, Aoife Smith, Amelia Xanthe Salmon and Nicole Cripps. 2.5 minutes later Charis Taylor and Rebecca Charlton followed, having already earned promotion to the medium pack from earlier performances in the season. After another long 2.5 minutes wait, Shona Haston and Clara Pettitt set off chasing the field from the fast pack. First to cross the line from the club was Charis Taylor, who finished 7th (3rd from the medium pack), followed by Gougy Sneddon in 19th and Aoife Smith in 41st, with all three of them now gaining promotion to the fast or medium packs. Next to finish was Shona Haston in 68th (5th from the fast pack), then Rebecca Charlton in 105th (32nd from the medium pack), Clara Pettit in 151st (20th from the fast pack), Amelia Xanthe Salmon in 219th and Nicole Cripps in 226th out of 460 runners. For the third race in a row, the senior women’s team managed to win their division.
Lastly it was the turn of the men to race, with another lap on their route meaning they had to run 6 miles. Most of the club’s runners started off in the slow pack, with Bradley Wilsher setting off 2.5 minutes after with the medium pack. The men all put in good performances, with Callum Hanson finishing 2nd, even after just missing the start of the race, closely followed by David Warnes in 9th, Sam Hansen 15th, Marc Esgleyes Cadanet 50th, James Whitmore 61st, Dominic Head 86th, Bradley Wilshere 110th (30th finisher from the medium pack), Sean Haycock 150th, Alex Peck 353rd and Edison Fallon 583rd out of a field of 623 runners. Callum, David, Sam, Marc and James all ran their way to a promotion into the medium pack, helping the men’s team to win their division too.
A big turnout from the club made for a great day of racing and as well as all 3 of the club’s teams topping their divisions, it was also the first race of the season which every member has managed to finish, and in which no one got lost, so triumphs all round! Next up in the cross-country team’s calendar is Edinburgh University’s Braids Hill race in 3 weeks’ time, where they’ll be hoping to continue their recent string of successes.