Mud, Sweat and Cheers


The Harrier League season rolls on, and on Saturday 10th of February, a hardened bunch of Poly athletes turned up at Thornley Hall Farm for the penultimate fixture. Weighed down with tents, cakes, and (in the case of my spikes) a good few pounds of mud from Harewood House, courtesy of the Northerns, the Poly came, saw, and said ‘Blimey, look at those hills! Not more mud. As it happens, I’ve got a library book due back next week., and my leg hurts’; actually that was just me.

First up were the Under-11s, with Lucy Fitzpatrick, Daniel Turnbull, Leo Burbridge, Elijah Fahey and Nicholas Smith all running very well; special mention though to Zac Brannon, who won the race in some style. Credit also goes to the coaches who’ve been working with these youngsters; a quiet, unassuming Mel Carr was on hand to offer encouragement and support to them during the race.

A fine team of under-13 girls represented the Poly in their race, with Ellie Van Der Merve, Holly Waugh, and Katie Joslyn all finishing well. For the under 13 boys, Ben Heaney put in a good performance, and Josh Blevins continued his excellent run of form, started at the Northerns, by winning once again. Rosie Hughes and Alex Berry competed well in the Under-15 girls race, and Isobel (Izzy) Robinson and Cara Blight did just as well in the combined Under 17 girls and U20 womens’ race.

9 Poly runners took part in the senior women’s race. There seems to be a tradition developing that one Poly runner will do the race with only one shoe on. This started at the Northerns, with Caitlyn Davies hopping to a decent finish. At Thornley, Abbie Cresswell willingly took on the role, leaving one of her spikes embedded in the mud just after the start. There were lots of great performances from the Poly women, including Alison Smith, who had a storming run from the fast pack to finish as first Poly woman, and Helen ‘I’m not a fast runner’ Heaney, who is currently proving to be a very fast runner indeed.

There’s been lots of talk lately of letting the women run the same distance as the men. I did consider waiting at the finish to ask if any of the women would like to run a third lap, but decided that I prefer my head without spikes embedded in it; perhaps another time.

Onward to the mens’ race. 18 Poly runners turned up for this, and performance of the day went to Will Robson, again steaming to first-placed Poly runner from the fast pack. There were lots of other great performances, including Paul West, Garry Robson, and Jon Heaney. The two Michael Parkinson’s continued their efforts to confuse me, while James Thompson looked like he was about to commemorate last years’ mass Poly late arrival for the mens’ race, but in fact turned up at the start with at least thirty seconds to spare. I should also mention the noisy, and much-appreciated, support from the women during the mens race; even if they did stand on the nastiest, steepest hill, meaning I had to at least appear to put in some effort.

The final fixture, and in my opinion one of the nicest courses, is Alnwick on the 3rd of March. As Jon Heaney has pointed out, both womens’ and mens’ league tables are finely poised for a big finish. It would be great to see you all there.

Thanks as always go to the Harrier League, volunteers, landowner, tent crew, coaches, and all of you who ran or supported. Well done all, and Up The Poly!


Details of next race:


Roger Mosedale