NEHL Druridge Bay, 15th October 2023

After a bitterly cold start to the day, it turned into a lovely, mild, sunny afternoon – a great day for travelling up the Northumberland coast to run in the sky blue vest of Claremont Road Runners. And we did travel in good numbers with 17 ladies, 9 men and Charlotte Kerr, who is making great progress in the under 11 age group.

Druridge Bay is a nice setting with a pleasing mix of scenery, and the course is probably the least daunting of the current NEHL circuits. There are no major hills to worry about, though the terrain can be uneven. This was only my third outing there, and the course was muddier than I have known it before and it also felt like running through hay fields at times as the cut-dried grass collected on my spikes! So it was enough of a challenge despite the lovely weather!

Amongst the 17 strong women’s team were three cross-country debutants – Kimberley Metson, Ann Smith and Keya Rahman. Ann and Keya both enjoyed their first experience of the Harrier League, though they know that there will be tougher challenges ahead as winter arrives. Whilst Kim seemed less enthusiastic than the other two first-timers, describing it as “gross”, she had a fantastic run to finish in 12th position and will be promoted to the medium pack for the next event. Joining her in the medium pack will be Julija Simpson, who also had a brilliant run to finish 34th – motherhood seems to be helping her running as she is in great form.

Sarah Kerr romped through from the fast pack to be 3rd Claremont lady home, but special mention must be made of Holly Porter – from Couch to 5K to a top 100 finish and counting in the Claremont “A” team in just a few short months! The 4 of them ensured that the ladies were 2nd in their division on the day, and they remain on top of the table after 2 events.

After struggling for numbers last season, it was good to see 9 men on the start line. Amongst them was Paul Robinson, returning to cross-country after an absence of several years. I think it is fair to say that Paul was not quite as enthusiastic about his return as Ann and Keya were about their debuts, but he deserves great praise for finishing the course despite being unwell part way round. Mark Anderson, running for the first time from the medium pack, overtook all of us to be first sky blue home, just edging out Roberto Marzo.

It has been a very encouraging start to the cross-country season – not only have there been very good turnouts, great performances and great support and camaraderie, but the standard (and quantity) of baking is reaching even greater heights. Can’t wait for Lambton!

Under 11 Girls
55Charlotte Kerr7:42
12Kimberley Metson29:13
34Julija Simpson31:21
68Sarah Kerr32:37 (Fast pack, actual time 27:32)
92Holly Porter33:07
126Nicki O’Brien33:43 (Medium pack, actual time 31:23)
163Julie Cross34:13 (Medium pack, actual time 31:53)
188Liz Denyer34:39
231Isabel Neatrour35:35 (Fast pack, actual time 30:30)
258Tara Hipwood36:07
347Jenny Roberts39:30
356Keya Rahman39:53
359Hazel Juggins40:04
384Gill Milne41:41
409Cath Robson43:43
425Ann Smith45:07
432Alexia O’Rourke45:56
439Joyce Zhao46:59
120Mark Anderson41:55 (Medium pack, actual time 39:25)
130Roberto Marzo42:02
208Laurie Johnson43:26
217Tom Tinsley43:35
296Paul Robinson45:27
356Chris Jones47:09
393David Lydall48:36
419Aaron Mansell49:45
481Jose Gallego Parrilla52:45

Thanks to all the Claremont photographers and, as ever, to Stuart Whitman for making his wonderful photos freely available.

Tom Tinsley -