Athletes were met by cold but very fine and bright conditions around the 2 lap course which was measured by most at around 1.7 miles.
The first race of the day saw the vet men do battle and with the minimum age of a vet these days being just 35 years old it was a chance for 36 year old Phil Coulson of Low Fell to pit his wits against his older compatriots. He made a fast start but was gradually reeled in by International Guy Bracken of North Shields Poly. At the handover Bracken had just got the better of Coulson to put the Poly in the lead. A fast finishing Kenny MacPherson finished 3rd ahead of big rival Brian Hetherington of Wallsend.
A very competitive race but with 2 Masters Internationals in their team and with the likes of Tommy Brannon and Sean Maley in their B team, it was always going to take something special to beat North Shields.
1. North Shields Poly - 26.36. Guy Bracken 8.44. Gary Moore 9.09. Iain Twaddle 8.43
2. Morpeth - 27.26. Neil Wilkinson 9.04. Paul Waterston 9.12. Terry Wall 9.10
3. Tyne Bridge - 27.38. Kenny MacPherson 8.57. David Moir 9.31. Paul Hilton 9.10
4. Sunderland - 27.39
5. Elswick - 27.48
6. Wallsend - 28.20
1. Twaddle - 8.43
2. Bracken - 8.44
3. Phil Coulson (Low Fell) - 8.46
4. MacPherson - 8.57
See below for a short video clip of the race.
The Senior and Veteran ladies raced together and with some teams mixing vets with seniors it was quite a difficult race to follow! However, one thing that was easy to see was the dominance in which the host club won the race outright.
The first leg was set to be a cracker once Durham City's Rosie Smith and Morpeth's Ashley Gibson, both of whom represented Great Britain at last week's Great Edinburgh Cross Country, lined up. Rosie, in fine form and renowned over the longer, tougher course was going to have her work cut out against track specialist Gibson. A determined effort on the 2nd lap took Smith into a clear lead but try as she may, she could not quite get rid of Gibson. With one final effort, the Morpeth Harrier done everything she could to draw level with her rival but she couldn't quite make it as Smith handed over in pole position and Durham City never looked back.
It was very pleasing to see 16 year old Lydia Turner of Birtley, so dominant in her age group, fight so gallently against the senior athletes and handed Birtley over in 4th place behind Durham City B team.
Aiveen Fox ran the glory leg for Durham and even with Tracy Laws chasing her down, the gap was always too big. However, finishing like a train was Aly Dixon. Now of Sunderland Strollers Dixon said that she felt as though she was sprinting the entire way and took her new club into 3rd position.
A dominant display from Durham City who, like North Shields Poly in the first race, were ahead from the first leg.
1. Durham City - 28.48
2. Birtley - 29.21
3. Sunderland Strollers
1. Aly Dixon (Sunderland Strollers) - 9.06
2. Rosie Smith (Durham City) - 9.07
3. Ashley Gibson (Morpeth) - 9.08
See below for a short video clip of the race.
The Senior Men was the final race of the day and with some top performances and exciting finishes it proved the fitting end to such a great morning's racing.
Halfway through the first leg and there was nothing to choose between Durham City's Dan Garbutt and the Morpeth pair of Richard Morrell and Matty Nicholson.
Floyd, in good form after wins the Whitley Bay Boxing Day Pudding Run and Morpeth 11k, took the Northumberland outfit into the lead on the 2nd lap but even with Lewis Timmins waiting to take over for Morpeth on the last leg, it was still all to play for. Dawson moved into 2nd to make it a Morpeth 1-2 but the last leg was packed with quality and the race was quickly becoming the most exciting of the day.
Timmins, the experienced athlete that he is, never looked in any trouble but Dan Jenkin of Durham City was running a fine race and with just a mile to go had moved Durham back into 2nd and for a moment it looked as though he was going to mount a serious challenge for the victory. Just behind him, Calum Johnson, Gateshead's latest Junior International was also having a gutsy race and was have a great battle with Sunderland's Weynay Ghebresilasie.
1. Morpeth - 24.22. Matty Nicholson 8.04. Ross Floyd 8.04. Lewis Timmins 8.14
2. Durham City - 24.26. Dan Garbutt 7.52. James Askew 8.36. Dan Jenkin 7.58
3. Morpeth B - 24.32. Richard Morrell 7.58. Michael Dawson 8.17. Graeme Taylor 8.17
4. Gateshead - 24.35
5. Sunderland - 24.44
6. Gateshead B - 25.32
1. Weynay Ghebresilasie (Sunderland) - 7.50
2. Dan Garbutt - 7.52
3. Calum Johnson (Gateshead) - 7.53
4. Dan Jenkin & Richard Morrell - 7.58
See below for a short video clip of the day.
A top day's morning of cross country running and if this event anything to go by then we can look forward to an exciting 2013.
Well done to everyone that took part.