Running around a hilly field on a rainy Sunday afternoon doesn’t appeal to everyone. In fact, for many it would seem actually quite unappealing. However the members of Newcastle University’s Cross Country teams aren’t everyone, and on Sunday 7th October this is exactly what 7 members travelled to Druridge Bay, Northumberland, to do.
After travelling by car (the lucky ones) or a 2 hour bus journey (the truly dedicated), the 3 men and 4 ladies from NUAXC found themselves huddled in the open rain surrounded by other teams’ tents and silently asking each other what on earth they were doing there. After a few minutes they were adopted by XC Captain Sean Haycock’s home club and ushered out of the rain and into their safe haven (tent). Things were looking up. At 1pm it was the ladies’ race, and all 4 members made it to the start line on time. Things were definitely looking up!
Harrier League races are run in packs based on previous race performances, with everyone starting their first race in the first pack (rather unencouragingly called the Slow pack), with the chance to move up a pack if a runner finishes in the top 10%. First up in this pack was Charis Taylor and Louise Mills, managing to push their way to the front ahead of over 200 other runners. 2 minutes and 40 seconds later (this time in the Medium pack) they were followed by Shona Haston and Clara Pettitt, who had been promoted to this pack after strong performances the previous week. All four ran their socks off and the team won their Division.
Special mentions for all members of the team (because credit where credit is due): Charis who came in 2nd place overall, Louise who was 8th finisher from the Slow pack and 11th finisher overall, Shona who was 3rd finisher from the Medium pack and 10th overall and Clara who was 5th finisher from the Medium pack and 21st overall out of a field of 358 women. Counting the actual time of the race (i.e. without the two minute delay) Shona moves up to 5th place in the overall Individual rankings, with Clara Pettitt not far behind in 7th, Louise in 21st and Charis in 64th (since Charis did not compete in the last Harrier league). All four ladies moved up to the next start pack meaning that Shona and Clara will now be starting the next race in the Fast pack. (Next pack above this is Olympic selection). Charis and Louise will be starting in the Medium pack. Safe to say that the previous doubts about attendance had vanished, and they were even glimpses of smiles![pullquote]A great day out and great running by everyone, and all members remembered why, despite the rain and the hills, they really do love cross country.[/pullquote]
Next up was the men’s race and more success. Starting in the first pack was Sam Hansen, shortly followed 2 minutes later by Callum Hanson in the Medium pack. (*Although both have similar surnames and are both great runners, they are not related*). There was strong running by both Sam and Callum, with regular smiles from Sam (even after Clara telling him he was ‘nearly there’ after only 3.5km of his 9km race complete). Even with a 2 minute deficit Callum finished in 4th place overall, and he gave his all in a brilliant sprint off to the finish line finishing only 1 second behind the runner in 3rd place. Callum also won the Medium pack race, and he too will be promoted into the Fast pack for the next race. Sam finished in 79th place overall, which out of a field 564 men is very respectable indeed.
Although he did not compete in the race, a massive thank you to Sean for his constant cheering and optimism- it was definitely appreciated.
A great day out and great running by everyone, and all members remembered why, despite the rain and the hills, they really do love cross country. Those who had got the bus even managed to blag a lift back to Newcastle, so all’s well that ends well! The team will be competing in Durham this weekend, followed by another Harrier League race the following weekend, and will be looking to continue their success in preparation for BUCS Championships in February 2019.