“Certainly, not a day for the fainthearted,”
a statement that applies to the efforts of all those
who were either involved, or competed at the
fifth and penultimate Start Fitness North Eastern
Harrier League Meeting, held for the second occasion at
Thornley Hall Farm, near Peterlee, County Durham,
on Saturday 11th February 2017.
Despite heavy prolonged overnight rain, organisers still managed to get the ten-race programme underway,
and thankfully all events were completed, with very few casualties, although there were several dropouts,
as competitors attempted to master some of the most difficult conditions
to be faced this Cross-Country season so far,conditions that severely lessened the usual attendance level.
One individual who certainly tackled matters very professionally was Morpeth Harrier Senior Woman Emma Holt,
who won her two-lap event with considerable ease from Durham City’s International talent Rosie Smith,
and on level terms, as both were running from the Fast Pack, giving 200 seconds and 100 seconds respectively
to a good portion of the 245-strong field of finishers,
a little down on usual, mainly due to the very adverse weather conditions.
Holt, very clearly the fastest in the race, won with seventy-six seconds to spare over Smith,
with Morpeth’s Jane Hodgson, also producing a superb run from the Fast Pack
to take third place, thirty-two seconds adrift of Smith.
This meant that Holt and Hodgson also picked up on the day Harrier League
Gold and Bronze medals respectively as a memento of their fine achievement.
Another Morpeth Harrier who mastered the muddy conditions was Catriona MacDonald,
who was fresh from a win in the Forfar Multi Terrain Half Marathon, the previous week.
MacDonald ran very strongly throughout, to come through to finish seventh, also running from the Fast Pack,
and was just over a minute behind her club colleague Hodgson.
Completing the Morpeth Harriers scoring four was Margaret MacDonald, mother of Catriona,
who having not run a Cross Country for some time, did very well to get around
the two-lap course from the Slow Pack, to finish in 230th place.
Margaret finishing was very much vital, as it meant that her club finished
in fifth team place in Division 2 on the day, thus managing to maintain
their status as league leaders going into the final fixture at Alnwick in early march,
which will hopefully see them promoted to Division 1 for next season.
Hopefully more club members will be able to turn out for that, if only to ensure that the
superb combined efforts of Emma, Jane, Catriona, and Margaret, do not go unrewarded.