The North Eastern Counties Athletic Association’s (NECAA) 2021 Cross Country Championships was hosted by Sedgefield Harriers on Saturday 11 December, when club runners of all ages from around the North East tackled a course in Hardwick East Park, Sedgefield.
Sedgefield last hosted the ‘North Easterns’ in 2015, on a memorable day when snow made a dramatic appearance that added to the challenge for runners and volunteers alike. Held on an annual basis by NECAA, the event was the 115th NEXC.
The action began with races for under 11 boys and girls, started by Councillor Ann Carr, Mayor of Sedgefield, and Cllr Mel Carr, chairman of Sedgefield Town Council.
Thomas Jude had a great run in the U11B race and finished in 9:47, quickly followed by Liam Greener in 9:54.
The NECAA championship races kicked off at 11am, with a series of events for U13s, U15s, U17s and U20s, and culminating in the races with the biggest fields, for senior men and senior women.
Jamie Lonergan finished in 7th place with a time of 10:52 in the U13B race, shortly followed by Finn Graham in 11:22.
In the U15B James Gray came 11th in 16:32, with team mates Max Murray and Robert Atkinson finishing in 16:46 and 17:36 respectively. The U15B team finished in fifth place. Ellie Fellows ran well, finishing in 8th place in the U15G race.
Will Collinson finished in 11th place for the U17M with 20:26, Oscar Jolly completed his run in 22:08 and Joseph Lonergan in 23:16, securing 4th position for the team.
Despite rain and snow in recent weeks, the course was in good condition and presented a good balance of climbs and flatter sections through the three fields that constitute East Park.
The men’s race was won by reigning English National Cross Country Champion Calum Johnson of Gateshead Harriers, with a dominant performance.
Isaac Dunn was the first Blaydon man home in 43:24, followed by David Best in 44:39, Matthew Levison in 45:07, James Dias in 46:02, Hedley Fletcher in 46:34 and Jaycee Shotton in 53:46. Their team finished in 8th.
In the women’s race, Catriona MacDonald of Morpeth Harriers was the winner. Emily Baines was the first Blaydon lady home in 11th position in 33:36, swiftly followed by Eleanor Bradbury in 13th place in 33:36. Bringing up the rear was Nicola Perry in 49:27.
The men’s team event was won by Morpeth Harriers, with Jarrow & Hebburn AC claiming the women’s title.