NEHL Druridge Bay, 9th October 2022

It was a mild, bright and breezy day for the 2nd Harrier League race of the season at Druridge Bay Country Park. Despite recent rain, the ground was fairly dry and firm so conditions were fairly good for running.

Our two young ladies were first out in the junior races, Charlotte Kerr running in the Under 11s with Grace Scott in the under 13s. Both are progressing well and ran with their usual determination. Well done, girls!

Despite some pre-race drama, the 15 strong ladies’ team all had numbers pinned on their vests in good time for the start. We have some new faces in the ladies’ team this season, which is always good news. It was particularly pleasing to see Susan Parker, who became the first of our Couch to 5K graduates to represent the club at cross-country. However it was a slightly more experienced runner, Julie Cross, who led the team home on the day. Liz Denyer was next home and the “A” team was completed by Maria Duenas, coming through from the medium pack, and Sarah Kerr, running well from the fast pack despite carrying an injury. All the other ladies did their bit by finishing the course, with some good individual performances.

Finally it was the turn of the men. Although not as numerous as the women (are we ever?), at least the 9 starters meant that we had a complete team with some in reserve. As already mentioned, the course was dry with no mud worthy of the name. Druridge Bay is also the flattest of the Harrier League venues, so the main problem is the uneven ground, particularly near the start and finish areas. The section on gravel paths was also longer than I remembered, so I am sorry if I gave bad advice on the choice of footwear to those running here for the first time!

I started with Laurie Johnson, but he almost immediately found a gap through the crowded field and I lost sight of him for a while. The number of runners meant a fairly slow start, but I started to get in my stride after a few hundred metres and began to make my way past a few runners. I could now see Laurie ahead, and decided that I needed to try to close the gap or at very least keep him in sight. The other slight issue was that there were a couple of stretches into the wind (I am sure that it deliberately got stronger for the men’s race!), though conditions were really as benign as they get for cross-country.

By the second lap, the field was starting to spread, though the faster lads from the medium and slow packs started to come through, including Anthony Liddle and Kris Axon, both Claremonters though running for their first claim clubs. Both gave me words of encouragement before disappearing into the distance! I had now passed Laurie and guessed that I must be first Claremonter, so it was a case of keeping going and trying not to lose too many places to the speed merchants and sprint-finishiers. Laurie wasn’t far behind to be second home, and then there was a close grouping with the next 5 sky blues finishing within 61 seconds of each other! All 9 of us got safely home, but unfortunately Jose Gallego Parrilla was disqualified for wearing headphones. This was his cross-country debut and he had come home with a tremendous sprint finish, so it was a real disappointment that he fell foul of officialdom. Poor Jose hadn’t even been listening to music, merely the pace updates from his smart watch. And to think that Gill had already given the officials their regular supply of Claremont cakes!

Then it was back to our lovely new tent and an excellent selection of cakes, biscuits and brownies – obviously the best thing part of a day out at the Harrier League!

Under 11 Girls
51Charlotte Kerr7:51
Under 13 Girls
51Grace Scott19:17
97Julie Cross32:27
111Liz Denyer32:42
116Maria Duenas32:46 (Medium pack, actual time 30:26)
135Sarah Kerr33:04 (Fast pack, actual time 27:59)
158Nicki O’Brien33:31 (Medium pack, actual time 31:11)
167Nina Jensen33:43
185Margaux Robin34:01
309Mariana Mouzinho36:17
397Rose Hawkswood41:07
402Shilpa Iyanna41:40
408Susan Parker41:54
415Cath Robson42:23
416Gill Milne42:25
436Elizabeth O’Mahony46:02
442Mary Martin47:09
214Tom Tinsley42:14
254Laurie Johnson43:02
378Duncan Scott45:51
385Dean O’Brien46:05
389Dave Roberts46:16
400David Lydall46:30
419Chris Jones46:52
499Alex Harding51:01
527 (Disqualified)Jose Gallego Parrilla52:42

Thanks to everybody who took photos. There may be more posted on Facebook in the next few days, so come back and check.

Tom Tinsley -