The North East Counties Athletics Association cross country running championship was held at a cold and wintry Redcar Racecourse on Saturday.
There were over 1,000 runners from 40 clubs who met for the regions biggest annual championship race
Alnwick Harriers Juniors fielded two full teams, both in the Under 13 age group.
The Under 13 girls have had a successful season to date competing well in the Harrier League and schools competitions. However, this championship attracts additional teams and the competition was very strong.
The flat course also caused some concern amongst the Alnwick athletes who rarely have the opportunity to race or train in areas without hills!
The girls race got off to an exceptionally quick start and even before the first corner the runners were stretched out over 100m. However, the quick pace didn’t relax and the leading group pulled away from the main pack.
Alnwicks Lauren Brown then took the lead, ran hard and opened a 15 second lead over the other front runners. Lauren confidently maintained this lead to go on and win the race!
Millie Breese, aware of how closely matched the front runners were, kept the pressure on and with a strong finish secured an excellent sixth place.
However, team victory relies on the best combined performance of the first three runners from a club. Hannah Johnston and Sam Potts had the task to produce the best third counting place and did very well.
Hannah ran strongly and finished in 16th place giving the team an overall score of 23. Runners up were Middlesbrough Mandale with 32 points and just behind them in third place were Chester le Street AC.
It was a very successful day for the girls who have trained hard and have developed a strong team spirit that has ultimately contributed to their victory.
The Under 11’s ran a non-championship race before the main competition where Ava Findlay was the club’s sole representative and she ran well experiencing her first major competition.
The Under 13 boys raced next on the very fast flat course. Max Murray John finished first for Alnwick in 13th place in an excellent time of 11.38 for the approximately 3km long course. Next home was Finlay Wilde in 31st place followed by Finlay Telfer in 75th place. The boys enjoyed their day and finished a solid 13th place
For the Seniors there was not a brilliant turnout with a number of Harriers pulling out pre-race for various reasons.
For the men Jason Dawson was the sole runner finishing the 12k course in 49.19 to finish 158th. Meanwhile, for the ladies Diana Weightman put in her usual strong run to finish 67th over the 8k course in 37.56. She was followed home by Sue Bolam in 44.53 and Louisa Stewart in 47.51.
Earlier that morning there was a glorious victory for Dominic Harris at the Druridge Bay Parkrun. Dom has been close to a victory on a few occasions and finished second at the event recently, but was finally able to taste success thanks to a very good 18.28.
He was just over a minute clear of the second placed male, fellow Harrier Jon Archer. Jim Lillico was Alnwick’s third athlete to finish in 21.09.
Also for the men Neil Hamilton was winner of the aged 40 category, Ian Atherton won the male 60 age group and there were pbs for Chris Friend and Harris Hall.
Meanwhile, Carole Page was the winner of the ladies race yet again, this time finishing in 21.49 to finish 15th overall. She was just over a minute ahead of the second runner, again a Harrier in Lisa Williams. Also for Alnwick Denise Drummond was first female 50, Ruth Doctor first female 40 and there was another pb for Nell Gair.
Results: 1-Dominic Harris 18.28; 2-Jon Archer 19.34; 8-Jim Lillico 21.09; 11-Neil Hamilton 21.24; 13-Ian Horsley 21.33; 15-Carole Page 21.49; 23-Chris Friend 23.01; 24-Lisa Williams 23.04; 26-Harris Hall 23.09; 30-Denise Drummond 23.23; 44-Ruth Doctor 25.05; 54-Ian Atherton 26.44; 65-Euan Friend 27.36; 63-Harry Ellary 27.36; 69-Nell Gair 28.47; 78-Jayne McKenna 30.08.
In other parkruns that morning Linda Patterson was 87th at Whitley Bay in 27.47, whilst over at Workington Richard Eastoe was 101st in 32.52.
Over in much warmer climes, John Ross was taking part in the latest of his half marathons, this time in Lanzarote! John was 575th in 2.20.00.
Graham Simpson took part in the third of the Borders Cross Country race series, this time hosted by Tweed Striders at Spittal. Graham improved on his 13th place at Dunbar to finish 10th overall. In the overall Grand Prix standings Graham is currently eighth.
Finally for the weekend, four Harriers were in action in the Northumberland Fell Runners organised Simonside Cairns Fell Race on Sunday.
Held in very cold and icy conditions a fair proportion of the field took at least one tumble during this tough 11 miler.
In a very good sixth of the 78 finishers, despite a couple of falls, was Ross Wilson. In 10th place and winner of the male 50 category was Adam Fletcher, whilst Steve Studley ran very well to finish 37th and Mark Doctor was 48th.