NEMAA Cross-Country Championships, 1st February 2020
Well done to Mandy Herworth, Julie Cross and Nina Jensen on winning their age group team prize in the North East Masters Cross-Country Championships on a very windy day in East Cramlington.
As I am not a member of the North East Masters Athletics Association (NEMAA) and Claremont has not really pushed this event as a club, the annual NEMAA Cross-Country Championships have normally passed me by. However Mandy Herworth has told me a few times that I am missing a great event and I can’t make all of the re-arranged Harrier League races, so I thought that I would enter and help satisfy my cross-country fix.
However the day didn’t start well as I had to drag a very tired body out of the house to marshal at parkrun, an upset stomach (I think that is the polite term!) having kept me out of bed for most of the night! Still feeling tired, I made my way to East Cramlington and met up with the 4 Claremont ladies who were also running. The wind was very strong with gusts of up to 40mph, so Nina had wisely left the club tent in the boot of the car and we joined most of the other competitors in finding a sheltered spot on the edge of the woods to set up base.
It was very much like a low key Harrier League event with a much smaller field and just two races on the day – the first being for women and over 65 men. Race 2 was for the 35-64 year old men. As in the Harrier League, the ladies race was over two laps with the second race being 3 laps of the course. There are prizes for teams of 3 in 10 year age categories and the first 3 individuals in each 5 year age group.
The Claremont ladies set off with Mandy Herworth and Sarah Bowen quite well up the field and pushing each other on. There was then a slight gap to Julie Cross who was followed by Nina Jensen. Mandy was looking strong as she passed me near the end of the first lap and went on to lead the sky blues ladies home in a very creditable 23rd place. All of them have come away with honours – Sarah came 3rd in her age group and the other 3 formed the winning team in the 45-54 age category. Well done!
Next it was my turn as Claremont’s only male runner. I had run in Harrier League events in this location before (though this was a different course), so I had a good idea what to expect – an undulating course but without any killer hills and a bit shorter than other courses.
I tried to resist my normal urge to race off, thinking that I might not have the energy to maintain it, so the strategy was to aim for a nice steady pace and make sure I got around. There were a few muddy patches and some rough terrain, but the really tough bits were when we were running into the wind! It just took your breath away at times! You can see the photo above, that it is trying to take my vest off! I was very pleased to get around in one piece and claim 2nd place in my age group.
Overall, a good, friendly afternoon’s racing and I will definitely try to get some Claremont teams up for next year’s run.