NEHL Thornley Hall Farm, 11th February 2023
It is a strange cross-country season when Temple Park, normally very dry, is a mud heap and Thornley Hall Farm, normally a mud heap, is very dry … some sort of strange effect of climate change?
There was certainly a change in the climate compared to the last few days. Gone was the wind, the overcast sky and winter temperatures. In was glorious sunshine and a balmy, spring-like day. It made it a great day for running up and down hills around a farm in County Durham!
With no Claremont juniors this time, the ladies were first off – and the 10 of them put in a very strong team performance. Isabel Neatrour was making her first outing of the season following an injury lay-off, and she made light of the challenge of starting from the medium pack to finish in a fantastic 22nd place. Izzy will now be promoted to join Maria Duenas and Sarah Kerr in the fast pack at Alnwick. Both Sarah and Maria put in strong runs to be amongst the 4 counters (a great 32nd place from Sarah), and Nicki O’Brien was sandwiched in between them, having also made her way through the field from the medium pack.
It looked as though the men would have a full complement this time with 6 of us starting the course, including cross-country debutant Mark Anderson. Unfortunately, David Lydall had a re-occurrence of his calf injury, sustained at the Sherman Cup in January and had to pull out halfway through the race.
Despite the nice weather and absence of mud, this course still provides plenty of challenge. It is a proper cross-country course with some stiff climbs, steep downhills, plenty of uneven ground (you have to negotiate the ruts caused by the tractors!) and a small fence to get over! Unusually it passes right through the middle of “tent city”, so there is plenty of support for the runners on at least one section per lap. So a tough run – but now that I am home and have had a restorative cup of tea, I’ve convinced myself that I enjoyed it! Roll on Alnwick.
|32:22 (Medium pack, actual time 30:02)
|32:51 (Fast pack, actual time 27:51)
|34:41 (Medium pack, actual time 32:21)
|35:49 (Fast pack, actual time 30:49)