With several previous races sadly cancelled due to car park flooding, the team of 10 (although missing a couple of its key cross-country enthusiasts) were more than ready to battle it out on the gruelling course of hills, mud and plenty of wind. So, after an irresistible trip to Parkrun for the captains, it was off to the home of Harry Potter to see what performances the squad could conjure up.
First to tackle the Northumberland hills was the women’s team comprising of president Shona Haston, captain Lauren Davies-Beckett, secretary Aoife Smith and keen beans Erin Gallagher and Anna Keeble. Off to a confident start around the 4.5 mile course were Gallagher, Keeble and Smith from the medium pack, soon to be chased 2.5 minutes later by fast pack runners Haston and Davies-Beckett. After a hotly contested battle it was Haston who stormed past Davies-Beckett in the final 150m to finish first from NUAXC, with the pair happy to post the 5th and 6th fastest times of the day. A strong performance from Gallagher earning her promotion to the fast pack, along with gutsy runs from Keeble and a Greggs-fuelled Smith also saw NUAXC’s women excitingly achieve the top combined team score on the day out of over 60 teams.
Next up were the senior men to face 6.8 miles of the now nicely churned up course. Jack Douglas’ Harrier League debut saw him comfortably cruise his way ahead of his slow pack competitors, with Chris Robinson and David Gaskin following strongly in his wake. 2.5 minutes later social secretary Toby Loveday set off on time and started making his usual gains on the masses in front, soon to be chased down by captain Chris Larkin on a mission from the fast pack. Leading for most of the way there was no sadness for Douglas as he stayed on his feet and comfortably bagged himself a silver medal, with Larkin then zoom zooming through in the 2nd fastest time of the day to prove that you can perform with a broken wrist (even if you can’t tie your laces). Solid efforts from the entire team saw them impressively all finish in the top 24 out of a 347 strong field, with Douglas, Robinson, Gaskin and Loveday all gaining a hard-earned promotion.
With the Harrier League season soon to be drawing to a close, the team will be turning their attention to the track and road with plenty more races to come this year.