X Country Champs Big Success
Thousands enjoy day of running at cross country championships in Sedgefield...
Thousands of runners and spectators descended on Sedgefield at the weekend (27 January), when a major athletics event came to the North East. The Start Fitness Northern Cross Country Championships was hosted by Sedgefield Harriers in East Park, attracting competitors and supporters from throughout the north of England.
Sedgefield hosted the Northern Cross Country Championships for the first time since 1955. The event saw almost 2,000 runners from the North East, Cumbria, Yorkshire, Humberside, Lancashire, Merseyside, Greater Manchester, Cheshire, Derbyshire, Lincolnshire and the Isle of Man, tackling a series of races in Hardwick East Park. Among them were many of the country’s best athletes, some of whom have represented their nation at international events.
The championships were organised by Northern Athletics, with support from host club Sedgefield Harriers, along with Durham County Council which owns the land, Sedgefield Racecourse, which provided parking for competitors and spectators, and Sedgefield Cricket Club, which acted as race headquarters. Other local businesses were involved and the event was only possible thanks to the contributions of many volunteers.
The race programme concluded with the senior women’s and senior men’s races, which had the biggest fields of the day. The senior women’s event over 8.1K was won by Lauren McNeil of Hallamshire Harriers Sheffield in a time of 28:35. Clubmate Lauren Heyes was second in 29:00, with Sophie Tarver of Wirral AC third (29:35). There was a victory for the North East in the senior men’s race over 12.1K, with Calum Johnson of Gateshead Harriers claiming the title for the second time in 37:55, followed by Angus McMillan of City of York AC in 38:25 and Matthew Ramsden of Blackburn Harriers & AC in 36:53.
There was no silverware for host club Sedgefield Harriers, but it did field the biggest squad in the senior women’s race, while also providing many of the volunteers who marshalled around the course or managed traffic and pedestrians. Local residents and members of other North East athletics clubs also volunteered to stage the championships, along with numerous officials from the region’s grass roots sports community. Feedback from Northern Athletics officers and visitors on the day has been overwhelmingly positive.
Chris Lines coordinated arrangements on behalf of Sedgefield Harriers, and comments: “Huge thanks go to everyone who stepped up to make it possible for Sedgefield Harriers to host the Northern Cross Country Championships. No event like this is possible without the contributions of a large number of volunteers, and the brilliance of our own ‘high viz heroes’ outshines anything I’ve seen elsewhere. I was really fortunate to have the support of club colleagues Andy Featherstone and Angus Hearmon, who led brilliantly in managing the course marshalling and traffic, backed up by scores of enthusiastic, committed folk from here and around the North East.
“Ultimately, it was a huge privilege and pleasure for Sedgefield Harriers to be involved in staging the championships. And, for me at least, it was also fun – it went so smoothly that I was even able to don my spikes and run!”
More details can be found at the Sedgefield Harriers website.
Image: Sedgefield Harriers