The Premier League wasn’t the only one looking rather better by Saturday night this week. A fine Poly performance in all races at the all-new Wallington Hall cross-country course left them topping their division. The course is a genuinely rural one, after a couple of recent park-based runs. Even in the wintry sunshine, the Hall itself looked, on arrival, like something from an M. R. James ghost story. The course itself had hills, woods, twists and turns, and mud (in moderation), and was longer than any previous race this season; 4.4 miles for the ladies, and 6.4 for the men.
First on the scene as always were the Ellis brothers, Scott and Simon, who had the club tent pretty much up and ready as the first Poly runners arrived. After a traffic-related delay, things got under way with the Under-11s race. Josh Blevins led the Poly finishers in this race, with good work also from Jacob Green, Archie Pennington and Harry Robson. Will Robinson, Mark Nash and Jake Hill all put in a decent shift in the Under-13 Boys race. The Under-13 Girls race saw Isobel Robinson and Eira Hegarty taking first and second place respectively, with Elen Carter also doing well. William Robson and Ross Butcher both did their bit in the Under-17 Boys, as did Alix Pennington in the Under -17/Under-20 Girls race.
Despite a bunch of Poly ladies taking off for a weekend up in Edinburgh, the club was the most represented in the Senior/Vet Womens race, with 26 competitors; and compete they did! Louise Hayes came in a close second, with Katie Jones and Vicky Houghton (fighting her way through from the medium pack) not far behind. There was lots more good running from the Poly team; at this rate they’ll all be promoted! A great afternoons graft from all the Poly women saw them at the top of Division 1.
The mens race saw a decent Poly turnout too, with 33 runners turning up. The traffic-related delay meant that the start was put back by more than half an hour, and there was some speculation that the men’s race might be shortened to avoid finishing in the dark; there turned out to be no need to worry though. Everyone got to run the full 6.4 miles, and head-torches weren’t required. There was some fantastic scenery on show during the race; your humble correspondent, on emerging from a wooded section onto a hillside with rolling Northumberland countryside, almost stopped to take in the view before remembering the point of the exercise. Another runner reported seeing a deer galloping along during the race (sign him up!). Patrick Houghton, Michael Moore, Graeme Lewis-Dale and Steve Attwell (presumably the imminent kick-off at St James Park an incentive) all finished well. John Baty, running from the medium pack, wasn’t far behind. Scott Ellis put in a fine performance too, running from the fast pack. There was plenty of other good running, from athletes too numerous to mention here, meaning that the men too finished the day top of their division.
There were plenty of cakes to be had back at the tent, including Vaughan’s Christmas gingerbread; the day finished with a spectacular sunset. Scott and Simon Ellis, having been first to arrive, were pretty much last to leave again, having stayed to strike down the tent; I think they deserve thanks from everyone who attended.
The Harrier League adjourns now until the 8th of February, when we hope to see you at Wrekenton. There’s no need to pack away your spikes though! Saturday the 14th of December sees the North East XC Championships take place at South Shields, while Sunday the 12th of January is set aside for the Durham XC Relays; ‘the best event in the running calendar’ (L. Robinson 2013). The official club photo for 2014 will also be taken at this event, so grab your Poly vest and get yourself along; but don’t forget to register for the event first (there’s a list on the wall at the clubhouse).
Well done all, and see you next time. Up the Poly!
Picture courtesy of Peter Gallagher