Despite the season now looking to have been suddenly cut short, Newcastle University Athletics & Cross Country still managed to fit in one more race last weekend. On Saturday 14th March, NUAXC alumni travelled back to Newcastle for a reunion and to meet up with the current club members at their annual Past vs Present event.
The event consisted of a 3x 2-mile relay around the Town Moor, with mixed teams of past and present members. Dominic Head, whose team was in the lead when he set off on the final leg, somehow managed to get himself disqualified after sprinting off the wrong way around the course. Despite turning back when he (eventually) realised, he had lost too much ground which allowed the team made up of present members Sam Hansen and Ruaridh Mon-Williams, and past member Mike, to take the win.
Past NUAXC members Tom and Zoe claimed both the fastest men’s and women’s times of the day respectively, with Ruaridh and Shona Haston running the fastest of the present members.
After the relay, the group headed to the pub for some well-earned pizza and pints. The past members had plenty of stories to share from their time at NUAXC, when they were known as the ‘Waders’. Before everyone left the pub there was time for the highly anticipated annual boat race, with present, past and recent past teams. After a bit of confusion by Shona in the present team and a disqualification of the recent past team, it was the past team that claimed victory.
Those of us that could still hack it carried on the social, and, after a minor blip, social sec Toby Loveday showed up to lead it, reintroducing the past members to the Toon nightlife.
The club’s Past vs Present event proved once again to be a popular one, with many past and present members coming together to enjoy the day, organised very well by Vice President Alice Nottingham. The club’s year may have been cut short, with many upcoming events cancelled, but Past vs Present was a successful note to leave it on for now.
- Shona Haston, Exhibition Park
Despite flooded car parks getting the better of numerous Harrier League events this year, the worldwide pandemic wasn’t quite enough to get the better of the Lambton Estate fixture.
Famed for its prestigious founder, the first Earl of Durham, and history as a Lion Park, it was ravenous mammals of a running kind who hit the cross-country course for NUAXC. A reduced team due to an action-packed weekend, Chris Larkin, Lauren Davies-Beckett, Jack Douglas and Toby Bryant set off with sights set on final leaps up the table.
A far drier course compared to previous Harrier League exploits, quick performances were on the cards from all in tough fields. In the women’s race, Davies-Beckett bounded through the packs to post a time of 32:17 and finish the season 2nd place overall in a field of 219. Haston, racing at the Past vs Present that day, still clinched 4th place despite not being able to compete.
In the men’s race, Bryant put in his quickest showing of the season over the lengthy 11-kilometre race. Douglas impressed once again to finish 5th overall with a time of 42:41, even after a pesky fallen tree sent him flying on consecutive laps.
Larkin may have ditched his trademark red shorts for the day in a move to unnerve competition, but there was nothing irregular in his performance, storming home with a time of 39:49 - a run which saw the cross-country Captain crowned champion of the Harrier League for 2019/20. Team NUAXC have a reputation to defend next year!
- Toby Bryant, Lambton Estate
From mud to the mountains, Sunday saw a few NUAXCs athletes take to the friendly Brough Law Fell Race in their double competition weekend. Cross country captains Chris Larkin and Lauren Davies-Beckett, along with adventure aficionado Emily Oakshott, pushed to new heights on the 5-mile Northumberland course, featuring a huge 1300ft of ascent, whilst battling the 60mph winds.
A fearless Larkin demonstrated his skill on the downhill and flew down the final descent to pip his fellow teammate, and last year’s reigning champion, Callum Hanson to the finish. Meanwhile, Davies-Beckett came through as 3rd female in her fell race debut, with Oakshott also finishing strongly in the top 10 women. A successful day for the trio saw them all awarded Easter eggs for their efforts, ready to rest up until the next race.
- Lauren Davied-Beckett, Brough Law Fell