Report – Alnwick Cross Country 2018
The final Harrier League fixture was postponed from early March, due to a rather obstinate winter sticking around and wanting to play some more. On the 17th, the runners congregated, only to find that the vaunted ‘Beast From The East’ hadn’t quite finished with us yet. More wind was forecast, and more snow, and the course was reported to be very muddy. That sounds like proper cross-country then! I’d have to admit to being a little nervous as we made our way there. We were somewhere around Northgate on the edge of Morpeth when the snow began to take hold.
Luckily, things cleared a little by the time we arrived, to find the Heaneys had already very kindly put up the Poly tent, and things were well under way. The weather wasn’t as unkind as expected, and the occasional flurry of snow was punctuated by moments of sunshine; the trees at the top of the course, meanwhile, shielded runners from the worst of the wind. Zac Brannon had already continued his exemplary form, winning the under-11 boys’ race with time to spare. I should mention that Zac has won every Harrier League race he’s taken part in this season, and he’s featured in all but one of the races; very impressive. Aiden Lewis-Dale wasn’t going to let the weather put him off either, and finished in a decent time. Ben Heaney followed up their exploits with a good run in the under-13 boys’ race. In the under-13 girls’ race, meanwhile, Holly Waugh, Katie Joslyn and Gracie Davies ensured the Poly team had the winning spot overall, led by Holly with an impressive 2nd-place finish. Both Holly and Katie have competed in all of the Harrier League events this season, as well as the Davison Cup. Ryan Eden turned out for the under-15 boys, and had a decent race too.
For the seniors and veterans, there was top-flight league status to be defended. Ten Poly women turned out for the team, and some cracking runs from them all helped to keep them in Division One for another season, with Helen Heaney, Alison Smith (who stormed through the field from the fast pack), Karen Gunn (ditto from the medium pack) and Abbie Cresswell among the scorers. There was great work also from the rest of the Poly women, who all contributed by pushing other runners further down the field. Both Alison Smith and Paula Abbott have run in all the Harrier League fixtures this season, with Paula also turning out in the Davison Shield.
Fifteen men turned out for the club, and bagged fourth team place for the club, with a team of Baty – Mulroy – Kane – West – Heaney – Hanley in the scoring positions. Again, everyone who ran contributed, pushing other runners down the field (not literally, obviously; I was nowhere near that bloke when he tripped, and it was in the woods, so nobody saw otherwise, right?). Club chairman Peter Atkinson, having enjoyed the Nationals in London so much, had another good day out, while Brendan Abbott and Mark Burgess completed a full set, having run in all six Harrier League fixtures, as well as the Sherman Cup.
Unfortunately, the mens’ efforts weren’t quite enough, due to a tough position going into the final fixture; some good performances from rival clubs mean that the men will be competing for promotion back to Division One next season. This should make for an exciting season though. Also, due to the heroic charitable efforts of Issy Davis (and also Katherine) those who were at Alnwick will be able to begin next season with immaculately clean shoes.
There’s a long list of people to be thanked for making the Harrier League so much fun to be part of, including League officials and volunteers, tent-crew, cake-makers (without whom I’d be lighter, and my dentist poorer) Captains Jon Heaney and Jenny Simpson, and all of you who turned out this season and ran. Let’s do it again next season.
Up The Poly!
Results from Alnwick: http://www.harrierleague.com/results/2017-18/Alnwick/
Author – Roger Mosedale