For the love of Lambton and thereafter…
And so it was Lambton where we had our final x-country outing of what became a season like no other. X-country has a reputation for tenacity and determination, battling and braving the elements, always on at all costs. But 2019/20 threw more at us than we bargained for. First the storms and floods and then the coronavirus. Mother Nature fighting back perhaps?
I think most of us knew this would be our last chance to run as a club for a while but I was still naïve as to the enormity of what would unfold. Not only the last of the x-countries but the start of race after race being postponed, cancelled or rescheduled, including our own Terry O’Gara Memorial 5k.
So this was our last chance to show everyone what Wallsend is made of. The turn out of Green and Golds was phenomenal (29 in total) and so was the camaraderie and gusto. As expected, the overall numbers were down, providing the perfect opportunity to score some vital points.
Thirteen might be unlucky for some but not for us Wallsend ladies. Vying for a top spot and a second promotion in a row, we knew we were in with a good chance. We were without our super NHS hero Alex Hemsley but this time we had another secret weapon – Emma Gallagher making her xc debut. A former legend of the track, Emma was in unchartered territory, but did this deter her? Of course not! She stormed through as second counter behind fast pack Jen (who was eighth in her category in 32.21) and finished in the top 10 in her pack. We were so grateful to Laura Murphy for turning out and coming in as our third counter just a second ahead of Sarah Robson, who flew from the fast pack again.
I was keen to see what I could do after a week on the iron tablets. I couldn’t believe the difference just a few days had made. I started to feel my old self coming back and really enjoyed the new course, with just one real ‘killer’ hill about half-way round (the rest was so scenic and perfect conditions). I even mustered a sprint finish with Nina! With Joy, Julie W, Marion, Kam, Julie C, a welcome return from smiley Sarah Lynch and the powerhouse Christine, we launched ourselves straight to the top of Division 2 – winners and promotion for the second row in a year! One of my proudest moments as Women’s Captain. I feel confident we can hold our own in the top division next season. Thank-you so much to each and everyone of you who has come and done your bit. Every single person in the team has contributed to our success and I couldn’t be prouder. I promise we’ll crack open the Prosecco soon ladies!
And then it was over to the men. They’ve proved they are a team to be reckoned with this season but it’s certainly not been an easy ride. Even with our tour de force it’s hard to climb that top men’s division. There’s some real tough competition up there with the big hitters. But they proved there’s strength in numbers, finishing an incredible third overall at Lambton.
Our first lot of counters finished within seconds of each other. Scott Ellis, our first man from the medium pack in 46.06, followed two seconds later by Iain Hall (48.43), then Colin Russell (48.45), Simon Lyon (medium pack) and Ian-James Elder (medium pack). James Duthie was first in his age category and our final A team counter in 46.42! Our B team came in eighth with Andy Wigmore, Kevin Wilson, Dave Diston, Martin Crozier, Lee Pattinson and James Torbett. Ian Gowing, Paul James, Mick Skeldon and Alan Heslington completed the awesome line up.
At the end of proceedings the men have finished an awe-inspiring fourth in division one.
Full results here.
Sadly only four of the six Harrier League x-country races went ahead this season. I’m not sure there will be many who can hand on heart say they were sad to miss Peterlee but Druridge would have been a cracking finale. And I think even the most reluctant of x-country runners would give anything to have been there instead of the difficult and unprecedented situation we all find ourselves in today.
But if there’s one thing us Wallsend Harriers do best it’s supporting each other through thick and thin. And by ‘eck do we need that now, more than ever. As I write this, even with sun pouring in through the window, I am fighting back the tears, missing you all so so much. But my phone is still pinging every few seconds with messages from all the different Green and Gold whatsapp and messenger groups, encouraging each other to go out and do those hills and run that Virtual National Road Relay Champs 5k. There are still lots of opportunities to feel part of the team. I was feeling pretty down on Saturday morning so I pulled my Harrier vest on and gave it my all along the seafront, knowing my performance would count. And it lifted me no end.
I feel privileged to have my home and work time filled with two of the most life-enhancing pursuits – music and sport. The endorphins they spark really do come to our aid in times of need.
So keep on running everyone, keep on sharing, encouraging and talking. Because this will be over and it would be good to look back on it as a moment when, for all the sadness, there was also much-needed time. Time to enjoy family, some peace, our surroundings and time to run. And I’m sure we are all thankful for a bit of that in this fast-moving world we live in.
A huge shout out to all our Wallsend Harriers who are key workers, you inspire us all. I hope you are all keeping safe and I can’t bloody wait to see you all again my wonderful Green and Gold family.