NEHL Druridge Bay, 10th October 2021

It was another unseasonably warm afternoon for cross-country, with sun cream once again the order of the day. Each cross-country venue has its own character and Druridge Bay Country Park makes for a nice setting but an unusual course. The start and finish areas are on very uneven fields, there are no real hills just a few ups and downs, some nice stretches through woodland and alongside the lake, and a fair amount of gravel paths. All of this and the dry conditions (though some patches were starting to cut-up quite a bit by the end) made choice of footwear a major issue.

There was a good turnout from Claremont with 10 qualifying runners in both the men’s and women’s races, with Kenny running as an over-65 man and Grace in the under-13s.

There was an excellent team performance by the ladies, led home by Nicki O’Brien who will now find herself promoted to the medium pack. There was a good battle for second Claremonter in, with Sarah Kerr just taking Izzy Neatrour in a sprint finish. Julie Cross completed the “A” team and there were good performances from the supporting cast – though Gill and Lena still managed to get a good gossip in as they went around!

My own run was a bit of a mixed bag. The initial stages were a bit tricky with the mass start and a long, uneven stretch that, as well as being a potential ankle-turner, was going to test how well recovered my thigh injury was! Once on more even terrain, I decided that I would take that first stretch easy on laps 2 and 3 and try to make up time on the paths. I felt OK and settled into a reasonable pace for the rest of the first lap. As usual on lap 2, the faster lads from the medium and fast packs gradually overtook me, so I kept setting myself targets wondering how far I could get before Kris passed me. Half-way came, then 5K and I was then hoping to make it to the end of the lake, but that was where he breezed by me, seeming far too fresh compared to the hot, sweaty mess that I felt myself to be! Lap 3 is always a matter of will power as I go further back through the field. Somebody counted me as being 158th, so I was determined to stay in the top 200 – which I did, finishing 189th.

It was then time to tuck into the wonderful array of cakes and to watch the Gill Milne masterclass in how to roll a tent, before joining the queue of traffic getting out of the Country Park, tired but content. Back home, I remembered my advice from last time that Sauvignon Blanc was not the best way to rehydrate, so we opened a bottle of Beaujolais instead!

Under 13 Girls
65Grace Scott21:29
29Nicki O’Brien31:10
80Sarah Kerr32:43 (Fast pack-actual time 27:38)
81Isabel Neatrour32:44
123Julie Cross33:44
135Liz Denyer33:55
186Maria Duenas35:12 (Medium pack-actual time 32:52)
288Ay Okpokam38:26
345Cath Robson41:15
379Gill Milne44:04
382Lena Webster-Costella44:13
393Ken McCormick45:13 (Over 65 men)
64Kris Axon40:33 (Fast pack-actual time 35:33)
189Tom Tinsley43:49
294David Lydall46:44
300Duncan Scott46:51
372Howard MacLennan49:14
385Dean O’Brien49:50
398Richard Slack50:26
430Alex Harding52:26
448David Devennie54:15
503Ari Hodgson67:37

Thanks to Gill, Howard and Maria for adding to my photos and, as ever, thanks to Stuart Whitman and Ian Harman for making their photos freely available.