Saturday 28th September saw the first harrier league match of the season taking place at the familiar Wrekenton course. The day began with unpromising weather (depending on your point of view!) but the sun broke through mid morning, and the decent weather held all day, providing almost perfect running conditions, along with a few puddles - not much of the famed harrier mud though, but there are bound to be plenty of future opportunities!
The under 11s were first off, with Noah Williamson securing a 9th place finish in his first harrier run for Birtley, along with Callum Chambers, Gabriel Curtis and Curtis Fallon, while Skye Pottinger was the sole representative for the Birtley girls in the under 11 race.
Next up were the u17 men, with Robbie Mumford performing well as the only Birtley runner in the pack, whilst the u17 women managed to get a full team out, finishing in 6th place - well done to Amy Drummond, Chloe Fairclough and Eve Southern.
The u15 boys race saw Birtley stalwart Chris Perkins finish in 11th place from the fast pack, with the fastest time of the day, a full 30 seconds ahead of his nearest rival - great running from Chris. George Beevers and Rowan Mason also ran well, bringing the Birtley team home in 6th position.
The u15 girls were unusually thin on the ground yesterday - however, two girls ran, with Olivia Callaghan performing well, and Katie Francis running from the fast pack to finish in 16th position with the 4th best time of the day.
The u13 boys were well represented, with Thomas Francis, Ben Brownless and Matthew Drummond making up the team to finish in 8th place overall in a competitive field, with Lewis Watson running well to support his team mates.
The u13 girls finished in a great 7th place out of 18 teams, with 10th place finisher Daisy Graham heading the team lineup, followed by newcomers Terri Bouma and Ami-Leigh Dodds - well done girls! The team points were supported by great runs from Maggie Graham and Letitia Fallon.
Following on were the senior ladies, who performed well in what may be a record field of 500 runners! On the "undulating" course (which means a big hill in the middle!), Chloe Price finished 14th overall running from the medium pack, along with Lisa Short and Lorna Graham, with Kay Drummond running well to complete the all important team, with support from Julie Beevers and new to the league Zoe King. They finished in 4th place overall in the 2nd division - well done ladies.
Finally, the Birtley lads hit the ground running, with some incredible performances and an amazing turnout of 14 athletes (pic below). Notable performances include Lewis McConnell, running as an u20 to finish in 5th place in a time of 34:42, with Peter Farnie and Zak Scott also finishing in the top 15 out of a field of 666 athletes (not sure if that number means something or not!). Adrian Bailes produced another great run from the fast pack to finish in a time of 32:39, the 9th fastest time of the day, with Darren Purvis and Greg Poulton getting the 18th and 20th fastest times. Nigel Simpson finished in an amazing 30th place in his first harrier league run, and he was joined by fellow newcomers Graeme Towers, Graeme Swaddle and Fionn Oakes - well done, hope you all enjoyed the experience! The men's field was completed by regulars Phil Atkinson, Dave Francis, Paul Noble and Paul Agnew, and the fantastic depth of our team produced a 1st place finish for the men in the 2nd division, let's aim to keep that place at the top of the league with a view to promotion next season!
Some of our athletes went a little outside the local area this weekend, first off was Rowan Mason, competing in the Ivan Stringer Memorial Meeting and coming away with a gold in the long jump and a bronze in the 200m - well done Rowan.
Meanwhile, at an event that couldn't be any further away from a 200m track race, Rebecca Pottinger and Lee Drummond took on the Spadeadam Half Marathon - a notoriously hilly course which probably makes our local XC courses look flat in comparison! In a field of over 500 runners, Rebecca finished 14th lady and 7th in age category, whilst Lee finished 21st man and 12th in category. Rumour has it that Rebecca swore she would never moan about a hill again...
Saturday saw the first XC of the season, with the Farringdon relays - there were lots of junior athletes taking part, and a team each for the lads and lasses - there were some terrific runs over the hilly twisty course, and no doubt some very athletic jumps over the infamous stream. Results will be published soon.
The Lambton Estate Trail half marathon also took place on Saturday, with Phil Atkinson and Lee Drummond taking 5th and 6th category places, and Claire Mumford finishing in 18th place - well done all, tough course!
Sunday saw Chloe Fairclough winning the Christine Brass Memorial 5k, over an "undulating course" (which usually means lots of hills!) - well done to her!
Finally, the Northern Road Relay Champs took place at Sports City in Manchester - we had a girls U15 team composed of Abigail Thwaites, Katie Francis and Mia Openshaw. No results as yet but they'll have done an amazing job as usual - well done ladies!
If anyone ran in any other races over the weekend and would like a mention, please feel free to get in touch at the usual email - thanks!
With social media being filled with little else this weekend, it was hard to miss the fact that the North East was once again the host for the biggest half marathon in the world, the Great North Run. Almost perfect weather this weekend made the events enjoyable for spectators, if a little warm for those actually running, and some amazing results were seen from our athletes, starting with the Junior GNR on Saturday, where the youngest Graham twins showed off their racing inheritance with a 1-2 finish in their wave - well done to Nell and Kitty! Katie Francis also placed first in an older age group - great running from Katie as always!
Congratulations to all the younger Birtley athletes who ran on Saturday, we hope you all enjoyed the experience!
The Great North 5k was also held on Saturday, with Lisa Short finishing in a fantastic 25th place in a time of 18:17, followed not long afterwards by Scarlett Newby, with Lisa's daughter Milly also finishing well - congratulations ladies!
Sunday of course was the main event, and although Mo grabbed the first place finish and the headlines, it was great to see so many Birtley athletes out there on the course, with some really strong finishes from our men and our elite lady Tracy Millmore - congrats to Adrian Bailes who finished an amazing 67th in a time of 1:14.25, quickly followed by Darren Purvis (83rd, 1:15.25) and Greg Poulton (101st, 1:16.16) with Tracy hot on their heels to finish in a time of 1:19.11.
There were of course lots of other Birtley runners, too many to mention here, with lots of PB's as well as first timers, and of course let's not forget the amazing team of Birtley volunteers who kept one of the finishing funnels running smoothly - here's the crew ready for action at the start of the day.
Full results can be seen here
The following athletes are invited to attend the Durham Association of Boys and Girls Clubs Celebration of Youth Awards at Ramside Hall on 23rd September:-
George Beevers, Maggie and Daisy Graham, Ami-Leigh Dodds, Matthew Drummond, Callum Chambers, Fynn Errington, Rowan Mason and Abigail Thwaites.
Please bring your medals/trophies and hand them in at the front desk from 6pm to allow the organisers to sort them out for the presentation (7pm). A buffet will be provided for everyone after the presentation (approx 8.15pm).
The following athletes are winners in this year's NEGP and have been invited to attend an awards ceremony at Gateshead Stadium, also on 23rd September, 7.00 for 7.30 at Gateshead Stadium:- Joey Perkins, Fynn Errington, Ryan Cook and Rowan Mason.
Most of you have already confirmed your attendance at one of these events - if you haven't yet done so, could you please email me as soon as possible so I can pass your names on to the organisers, thanks.
All the names given so far have been submitted for this year's league - however, they won't appear on the Harrier League website until they update the lists, which will be a few days before the first match, so please don't panic if your name isn't showing yet!
If you look at the spreadsheet on the noticeboard page, all the names submitted to date are coloured in either blue (re-registrations) or green (new registrations). If you are a new registration, I have entered you in the slow pack - if you'd prefer to begin the league in the medium or fast pack (seniors/vets only), please let me know ASAP and I'll update the entry.
An amazing result for Chris Perkins in his first England Athletics U15/U17 age group champs, coming away with a well deserved silver medal in the U15 Boys 1500m, in what was a very tactical race. Very well done Chris!!
Meanwhile, at Cudworth, an Interleague match saw the combined NEYDL team, which included Birtley athletes Abigail Thwaites, Fynn Errington and Rowan Mason, gain a well deserved win over their opponents Yorkshire - well done to all who competed!
All in all, a very successful weekend for Birtley!