Hartlepool Burn Road Harriers hosted the fifth fixture of the North Yorkshire South Durham Cross Country League last Sunday at Summerhill Country Park.
This is always a great event and renowned as being a very tough course.
Two of the senior ladies squad, Jane Wistow and Sharon Stephenson, were unable to race due to illness, but took the chance to marshal the course and cheer their team mates on.
The senior ladies race was 4.6K and had five challenging hills as well as lots of sections of deep mud. The women also had to contend with the beck jump twice.
Laura Jones led the Burn Road team out, eating up the hills and stretching out over the flatter sections, she placed 22nd overall in 21:28. Second home for the club, and racing over her least favourite terrain, was Jo Beddow in 23:23 (41st).
Marie Taylor was tucked in closely behind Jo and raced to the finish line in 23:27 (42nd). An excellent start to Marie’s racing for the town team.
Jan Naisbitt was the next Harrier to cross the finish line in 24:09 (47th).
An excellent run for Jan who had an exhilarating race to the finish line against Dave Clouston, who was competing in the Men’s Vet65 race, which took place alongside the Senior Ladies race.
Dave just got the edge at the line to finish in 24:07 and place second overall in the Vets Race.
Lesley Strickland followed Jan Naisbitt to the line in 24:32 (49th), with Christine Bruce next in 24:52.
This was Christine’s best race yet for the club and there is definitely more to come from her in the next few months.
The next two Harriers were closely matched, with Angela Lawlor pulling away to finish in 26:44 (67th), followed in by Claire Minton, racing for the first time for Burn Road. Claire finished in 26:51 (68th).
Another two coming in in quick succession were Julie McGrath in 28:53 (72nd) and Vanessa Cox in 28:59 (73rd).
Steph Dean was competing in her first race as a Harrier and had an excellent first run, finishing in 29:35 (75th).
The men’s race was over 8.9 kilometres, covering nine hills and three beck jumps, a very testing race which was won by Middlesbrough’s Greg Jayasuriya.
Hartlepool’s first man was Richard Darling, racing on home turf always brings out the best in Richard and he finished exhausted but pleased in ninth place in a time of 34:37.
Simon Bennett’s strong return to form continues. He was 13th in 36:06, with Vaughan Godber immediately behind him in 36:08. A great start for the men’s team.
Paul Stephenson had a fantastic run to finish in 37:02 (17th) with Ian Wilson returning to his racing in fine form next in 37:22 (19th).
Anthony Oliver was the next Harrier to cross the line in 37:35 (21st), with Darren Armstrong next in 38:12 (25th). Darren is returning to racing after an injury-hit period away and is slowly getting back to form.
The eighth finisher for the town was Ian Bilton in 40:17 (41st), with supervet Karl Edwards next in 40:42 and easily clinching the first Vet60 title.
John Davis gave Karl good chase and finished in 40:56 (51st), learning a little more about pre-race ‘hydration’ tactics. Next was Leigh Owbridge in 41:05 (53rd).
Club president Ian Cook had a great run after helping set up the course from 8.30am that morning, he had already endured laps of the course in wellies.
He raced across the finish line in 42:58 (65th).
Simon Lawlor was next in 43:51 (68th), followed by Nigel Shaw in 46:48 (88th).
Dave Wallace raced to the line to complete the gruelling 8.9k in 48:28 (98th) and Carl Marchant next in 50:35 (107th).
The Hartlepool squad was completed by Peter Johnson who ran well in 55:20 (119th).
The team finished second, a great result on the toughest course of the cross country fixture list.