This was a Claremont Road Runners squad severely depleted by illness and injury, but there were still 8 ladies and 4 men fit enough to compete. Well, really only 3 of the men were fit enough as David Lydall was full of cold but wanted to give it a go!
The North East Championship races are longer than the Harrier League, so the women had to do 3 laps of the Wrekenton course, whilst the men did 4 – though I believe that the first lap was cut short for the ladies. Another twist was that we ran the course in the opposite direction to that which we are used to – and I can’t decide whether I preferred it this way around or not!
Luckily the howling gales of the morning had subsided, although there was still a stiff breeze that gave the Claremont tent repairs a good test. I was also expecting the course to be a bit of a mud heap after the recent rains, but there were no bogs or big puddles to contend with. So, all in all, it wasn’t a bad afternoon for running.
Another change from the Harrier League was that the men ran first – so it was our turn to churn up the course for them and I think we managed to do a pretty good job of that! As we didn’t the requisite number for a team (6), the men were running as individuals which made a nice change as I felt less pressure to perform with only personal pride at stake! David sensibly cut short his attempt after two laps to leave myself, Francesco Carrer and Kenny McCormick as the 3 finishers.
In contrast, the ladies had two full teams of 4. The “A” team were led by 3 of the Claremont cross-country stalwarts of recent years – Mandy Herworth, Sarah Bowen and Julie Cross. One of the newer enthusiastic breed of Claremonters, Tara McCully, completed the team which finished in a more than respectable 20th place. Unfortunately there are no official “B” teams in the Championships, so we don’t have a position for the “team” of Claire McKitterick, Hazel Juggins (in her first ever cross-country race), Cath Robson and Marie Slack. The weather threatened to change during the ladies race with short spells of rain, but this gave them the treat of a beautiful rainbow to distract from the pain of getting up the hills!
One advantage of the reduced numbers was that there was more cake and biscuits to go around, so, all in all, it was a pretty good day out. Roll on the New Year and the return of the Harrier League!