We set off in convoy on the Friday before for an overnight stay close to the course. An early start at 10am Saturday morning to get to the race venue of Alton Towers Staffordshire.
Joining the queue of traffic leading into the actual entrance of the theme park we took a vindictive turn into a side road, because today we were not here for the rides.
It was clear on arrival that the course was not going to be as dry, compared to when the same event was ran here in 2008. The club tent area looked as though it’d been freshly ploughed then hosed with water with similarities to Glastonbury festival. We managed to find a clear(ish) spot for the club tent and raised the Birtley AC banner.
Studying the course map we set off to check the route in preparation for the U17 men’s race which was the first event Birtley had an athlete competing in.
Adrian Bailes set off amongst 270 other runners to race the 6k distance, which was one small and one large lap. Unfortunately Adrian was unable to complete the course due to illness but still put up a valiant effort negotiating almost 4k. Adrian recovered later on and became a welcome sight on the course supporting the other Birtley athletes.
The next race was scheduled for 1.00pm, but due to safety reasons a frustrating 30 minute delay put the start of the U15 girls back to 1.30pm. An issue had been raised with access for first aid provisions on the lower part of the course causing a change to two small laps instead of one large, which still measured approximately 4k. Birtley U15 girls have previously enjoyed glory at North East and Northern level giving them a desire for National success. They all performed well realising that each position counted and that a National team medal could be within the reach. After the race a nervous wait whilst officials added team totals the news reached the girls that they had achieved a silver medal team position. The girls spent the rest of the day proudly wearing their medals the first ever National team medals to be won by Birtley AC.
Delays and some confusion hit the rest of the races before the final event which was the Senior Men and set off at 3.15pm. The course which was originally 12k being three large laps was changed to 10k one small and two large. A light drizzle made the worsening conditions abysmal for spectators and participants alike. Six Birtley Seniors started the race, five completed the testing course “harder than the Northerns” Tony Forster. Unfortunately Ged Murray coming back from injury reluctantly pulled out. The continuing five had brilliant runs lead in by Darren Purvis then Neil Allan, Lee Millmore, Dave Coulson and Tony Forster.
Well done to everyone who competed and thank you to all the supporters who travelled.
Next years Nationals are to return to Parliament Hills London. This is a recommended experience for anyone spectator or athlete.
Locally let’s see the Seniors continuing their campaign for promotion to Division 1 in the Harrier League (next one Wrekenton 26/02/2011) and the U15 girls securing individual and team titles and more Birtley athletes in general competing across all events.
10 2537 00:15:40 Lydia Turner Birtley AC
19 2533 00:15:55 Anna Fawcett Birtley AC
35 2534 00:16:17 Sophie Forster Birtley AC
96 2535 00:17:17 Paige Gilhespy Birtley AC
Top 3 teams
1 60 Aldershot Farnham & District ( 3 12 20 25 )
2 160 Birtley AC ( 10 19 35 96 )
3 198 Tonbridge AC ( 4 18 29 147 )
Senior Men 10k
180 6232 00:41:41 Darren Purvis Birtley AC
314 6222 00:44:20 Neil Allan Birtley AC
405 6228 00:45:52 Lee Millmore Birtley AC
1072 6224 00:58:48 David Coulson Birtley AC
1099 6226 00:59:50 Tony Forster Birtley AC
For full results http://www.englishcrosscountry.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=66&Itemid=73