Hartlepool Burn Road Harriers hosted the North Yorkshire and South Durham Cross Country League Fixture at Summerhill Country Park.
Notorious for being the most challenging, hilly and muddy course of the league, the home club were looking forward to the fixture.
It was an extremely cold and windy day so athletes had mud, hills and biting cold wind to face around the course.
The Under 11s race was first, with Joe Coulter having to retire half way round with an injured leg, it was left to Finn Godber to start the Hartlepool Team off to a good start.
He raced around the 1.7k lap in 5:30 to place 12th overall. A great start to the day.
In the Boys Under 13s race, Thomas Godber charged round the 2.8K lap, taking on three big, muddy hills and two sharp declines, to finish in a brilliant eighth place in 15:29.
It was Eve Dixon’s turn next in the Girls Under 13s Race.
Eve too dug in and produced an excellent performance to finish 13th in 16:24, over three minutes faster than in 2014.
The Senior Ladies Team were led out by Sharon Stephenson and Sarah Black who made racing around the 4.6k course, with five gruelling hills, two beck jumps and three sharp declines, look relatively easy.
Sharon took the lead mid-way through the race and powered to the finish line in 19:34 to great cheers from the home crowd.
Sarah was soon crossing the line very strongly in 20:10 (14th), followed by Jane Wistow in 20:49.
Still not fully fit, Jane took on the hills slightly differently – by walking them – and found she had better speed over the flatter, muddy sections as a result.
Lesley Strickland was next, racing to the line strongly in 22:08 (24th), closely followed by Lucy Stones in 22:27 (26th) who had overtaken Lesley with a kilometre to go but tired over the latter section of the course. Emma Watson had another great cross country run, knocking over a minute off her 2014 time to cross the line in 23:40, with Jan Naisbitt next in 24:08 (42nd). Lisa Dawkins had a good run, eating up the hills with ease she raced to the line in 24:19 (43rd) to great applause.
The race continued for a further 14 minutes, showing how strong the Hartlepool Ladies team are and they held their third place overall in the league as a result.
In the Male Vet 65 4.6k race, Dave Clouston had a cracking run to finish 2nd in 23:46.
The Men’s Race was tough, covering three laps of Summerhill’s muddy cross country 8.9K route which meant nine hills, three jumps over the beck and six muddy declines.
Richard Darling held back over the first lap, gradually increasing pace to take the lead of the Burn Road Men and finish in an outstanding eighth place of 126 hardy cross country runners in 33:30.
Paul Wilson was next in 34:44 (16th), with Simon Bennett not far behind in 34:56 (18th).
The first three finishers were soon joined by Barry Coulter in 35:47 (22nd) and Mick Lamb in 36:04 (23rd) so were waiting for their sixth team member to count towards the scoring.
Very soon Darren Armstrong appeared storming to the finish line in 37:20 (37th) which secured the Men’s Team first place in the league with only one fixture to go.
Andrew Minister was next in 37:22 (38th), with Ian Cook next, showing athletes half his age how it is done by powering to the line in 38:08 (45th).
John Davis had a good run, finishing in 39:18 (49th), with Karl Edwards next in 40:09 (56th).
Gareth Foreman enjoyed his run to finish in 40:14 (58th), with John Mansfield taking the course in his stride in 42:32 (79th).
Leigh Owbridge was next, running his first race over the Summerhill Cross Country course, to finish in 42:51 (84th), followed by Jack Hutton in 43:18 (86th). Darren Smith was the next Harrier to cross the line to the cheers of the crowd in 43:38 (91st), followed by Dave Wallace in 45:36 (103rd) and Peter Johnson in 46:31 (106th).
Completing the Burn Road Team were Darren Rowbotham in 48:37 (114th), Michael Bell in 49:08 (117th) and Graeme Surtees surging to the line in 49:56 (118th).
A great day’s racing for the Harriers.
Earlier that day, Neil Simon, Bill Hornby and Greg Swinbourne turned up to a new 5k trail race course at Acklam not knowing what to expect apart from it being freezing and Neil still recovering from illness.
The course was challenging, but with good stretches of trail to open up and gain some speed.
Bill had a storming run to finish 61st in 25:02, with Greg Swinbourne finishing next in 25:58 (78th) before dashing back to Hartlepool to marshal for three hours in the cold at the cross country races at Summerhill! Neil Simon was glad of the fresh air, though he found it tough going full of cold and finished in 26:15 (81st).