Report by Richard Slack
The forecast was unsettled but in the words of Michael Fish “someone has rung to say it will snow” – well maybe on the Pennines but not at Sedgefield. As I left Newcastle the skies had turned from a blue winter morning to a battleship grey with rain. By Durham the rain had turned to sleet and then beyond Bowburn the first signs of snow. Arriving at Hardwick Hall, for car parking and adjacent to the cross country area the snow was now well and truly taking hold and lying. Car parked and a wander over to join the others in the field ready for action. The moment of dread that I will shortly be running 12 km round a muddy field and more worrying that it is both voluntary and that I will enjoy it – or certainly when the race is done.
Thanks to the others who had preceded myself, Roberto and Jeremy so that the Claremont flag was flying high and the tent already in position. Thereafter followed the usual quandary and debate as to whether to wear shorts given the sub zero temperatures and yes, the snow still falling. Shorts it is as wearing longs means that you end up carrying round a load of mud and frozen water on your trackky bottoms. On leaving the tent it felt remarkably okay as the wind had abated so off set myself, Jeremy, Roberto, John, Alasdair and Howard into the unknown of East End Park, Sedgefield. The course consisted of four laps or a 3km route, initially running north parallel to the A177 and into the wind that was picking up. Thereafter we turned right and downhill towards the ever expanding mud bath before meandering back South along the far side of the field to base. Then round again three more times so by the end the mud was getting pretty churned – and yes, still snowing. Good cross country weather. Thanks to Bill (official photography to follow) and the ladies for cheering us along the way.
For the ladies race, same format but three times round the loop. Mary had a last minute change so had her own private start but soon made up ground as we would expect our Mary to do. In parts the ground had now started to freeze so mainly mud but with some firm frozen bits for a bit of variety. Well done to Nina, Mary, Rose and Kerry. Meanwhile the lads were taking the tent down. Oh dear, unlike the efficiency to the ladies at Druridge Bay this seemed like a bad Krpyton factor challenge in the cold. John kept the team focussed and led by example while a lot of watching went on. Undeterred the tent finally made it into the bag.
The race was good fun, tough and thankfully no real hills. Surprisingly (?) none of us made it into County recognition but the flag was flown high and proud. Oh, and it was still snowing!