Birtley XC Relays, 16th January 2022

The January cross-country relay now seems to be firmly established on this course at the Lord Lawson Academy, having moved from Durham a few years ago.  The school makes for an excellent venue and Birtley AC make the most of the school grounds to make a, winding course of 1500 metres around the grounds.  This includes two short,steep descents and two short, steep ascents back again!  So there is enough variety and challenge to keep it interesting.

There were 3 races – Veteran Men, all Ladies and the Senior men.  There was generally a lower turnout than usual with  clubs feeling the effects of Covid withdrawals and competition with the popular Brass Monkey race in York.  Claremont had 4 teams in total with an interest in all 3 races – though our senior teams both included 2 veterans!

Early morning rain soon disappeared and eventually the clouds cleared so that the final race of the day took place in bright sunshine.  The ground was soft, but not too muddy and it all made for decent running conditions.  First off were the veteran men with Claremont represented by Chris Jones, Jon Hinchmore (on his competitive debut for the club) and Tom Tinsley.  I think we all ran steady, respectable legs and didn’t disgrace ourselves!

We had two ladies teams, one in the veterans’ competition and the other competing as seniors.  Nina Jensen started for the seniors and handed over just a few places ahead of Julie Cross for the vets.  Marie Slack closed the gap on Julie Dumpleton, but Lena Lou started the 3rd leg with a lead over Hazel Juggins.  Hazel caught Lena before the end of the first lap and went on to give the victory to the vets in the mini-Claremont race.  In fact, the Julie, Marie and Hazel finished 2nd in their age category (F55-64).  Well done!

Finally, it was the turn of the senior men.  Laurie Johnson had the task of trying to keep up with the speed merchants on the first leg, and he did it admirably before handing over to Roberto Marzo.  It was good to have Roberto back for his first Claremont race since the start of the pandemic, and he showed that he hasn’t lost too much speed before handing over to the ever-youthful Rob Newton.  There was much confusion at this handover and Rob was held for what seemed a really long time before the officials finally let him go – I hope that delay wasn’t added to Rob’s time but I suspect it has been!

All in all, a pleasant morning’s racing. 

Veteran Men
21st (9th M35-44)Chris Jones
Jon Hinchmore
Tom Tinsley
Team Time
Position Runners Time
34th (2nd F55-64)Julie Cross
Marie Slack
Hazel Juggins
Team Time
44th (16th Senior)Nina Jensen
Julie Dumpleton
Lena Lou
Team Time
Senior Men
Position Runners Time
17thLaurie Johnson
Roberto Marzo
Rob Newton
Team Time

I think that numerous people have contributed to the photo album, but special thanks should go to Laurie Johnson for filming this excellent lesson in how to roll the club tent (video on FaceBook – hope to have it up here soon!).

Tom Tinsley -