This last weekend was a notable one for many club members with a feast of running events across the country and a number of outstanding achievements. Anyone hoping to track all the competing Harriers would have had their work cut out.
On Saturday, there were seven runners making the long but worthwhile journey to the beautiful Kielder reservoir to compete in the penultimate Grand Prix event of the year, the Kielder 10k: Phil Houghton, Alda Hummelinck, Liz Bayles, Andy Corfield and Christine, Angus and Tom Hearmon. There would have been eight, but Mike Wood missed the event for the best of reasons having just become a grandfather in the early hours. All but the Hearmons were competing for the first time here and were mightily relieved that the hill which looked like a cliff on the elevation map turned out to be a steady incline. In perfect running weather, the seven runners passed through a winding bucolic autumn scene of pine trees and lake views cheered on by an army of smiling marshals. For the Grand Prix, Tom Hearmon was mightily undone by the age grading system (sorry Tom) going from first on raw time to third. Andy Corfield took gold in the men’s second division, Christine Hearmon (despite illness) took gold for the women’s first division, cementing her second place overall, and Alda Hummelinck rounded off her Grand Prix season with a seventh win to comprehensively take the overall prize in women’s second division.
Kielder 10k competitors (l-r): Andy Corfield, Phil Houghton, Angus Hearmon, Tom Hearmon, Christine Hearmon, Alda Hummelinck, Liz Bayles
Whilst all that was going on, one Chris Lines was pounding through another part of the forest running the first leg of the Sedgefield Specials’ attempt to defend their Run-Bike-Run Team title from 2016. The Sedgefield Specials are a team made up of Chris Lines and Roger Whitehill from the Harriers and Ian Dunn from the Ferryhill Wheelers. While they finished ahead of last year’s second place team again, a new team charged out in front of them. Congratulations to them for their outstanding silver medals. For Chris Lines’s legs though, it was just the beginning.
The "Sedgefield Specials": Roger Whitehill, Ian Dunn, Chris Lines
In the individual Run-Bike-Run Tracy Henderson, returning from injury, achieved 2h 41m and a jet-lagged Steve Foreman was not far behind in 2h 47m cheered on by a merry band of Harriers.
Steve Foreman finishing the Run-Bike-Run invidual competition
Sunday was even busier. In the morning, Chris Lines’s legs were out again, competing in the Kielder Half Marathon and carrying him to an astonishing (given the nature of the course) 1h 32m finish. Behind him in the half were Jane Spink (1h 46), Tracy Brown (2h 8) and Debbie Mann (2h 35). Well done all. In the marathon, Diane Baines (4h 40h) was as consistent as ever. And a special mention for Ciaran Lines who finished 7th in the junior run while Dad was off half-marathoning and continues to impress with his effort and dedication and ability to get in the mix with older juniors.
Harriers vests in the half marathon (l-r): Chris Lines, Jane Spink, Tracy Brown. Ex-harrier Paul Weir was keeping Chris company around the course.
Meanwhile in York a mix of marathon debutants and veterans was getting underway. Of those who’d run the distance before, five achieved a sub-4 hour time with Gary Thwaites missing out on a sub-3 hour time by just four minutes. John Haycock and Paul Glaister also came in under four hours while Emma Craig smashed her previous time. Special note goes to Emma Featherstone who ran a personal best a year after giving birth (3h 50m). The biggest achievement of the day though was for Lisa Darby whose 3h 26m 24s time is not only a personal best but a new club record! Congratulations Lisa!
Lisa Darby shows off her York Marathon finishers medal after breaking Gail Bell's long standing marathon record
And then came the four debutants. Having spent months pounding their knees into the ground and preparing emotionally and physically for the day, Paul Lee, Graham Darby, Sue Dobson and Ali Horton all came in with respectable times and most importantly with smiles on their faces.
Marathon debutants Sue Dobson, Ali Horton, Graham Darby pose with Emma Craig and Lisa Darby after finishing
In Northumberland, Chris Lines’s legs were driving the 53 miles to Druridge Bay.
One of the club’s proudest moments was when Justin Cox achieved the qualifying time to wear a national vest. Today was his time to wear it. Competing in the Chester Marathon, he managed to finish in the top 50 and also achieve a personal best, beating his previous by just six seconds (!) to finish in 2h 45m 53s. Well done Justin!
Back in Northumberland, James Oldfield, David Bentley, Mark Raine, David Walker, Mil Walton, Chris Lines and Stuart Park were helping the Harriers score points in the second Harrier League cross country fixture of the season. It’s a great start to what will be a season of consolidation in the second division.
The under-13 boys team of Tom Brandon, Vincent Shepherdson and Gregory Killingley also managed to put a team score on the board. Well done boys! Well done too for Sam Morrison who achieved a creditable time in the under-15 boys race and to David Edwards and Joe Beurkens who ran well in the under-11 boys run.
It was a fantastic weekend of achievement: a silver medal in the Kielder Run-Bike-Run, four marathon debutants, one marathon club record, points on the board in the Harrier League and a marathon PB in an England vest.
And in Chris Lines’s legs we may have discovered some genetic mutation that will be the next great leap for the human species - he wasn’t even tired when I saw him on the Monday!