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by leem

January 25, 2012

McCain UK Cross Challenge Antrim 21st January 2012

Seven Athletes and five parents, coach and supporters travelled to Antrim Northern Ireland for the IAAF International Cross Country event which incorporated the forth McCain Cross Challenge Series for 2011/2012. Flying from Newcastle Airport to Belfast International Airport, it was an early start on the Saturday morning (21st Jan) for a 7:15am flight to Northern Ireland. Arriving at Belfast Airport for 8:15am there was plenty of time to collect the hire cars and find a café for breakfast, as the first race our athletes were involved in wasn’t until 11:15am. The event was held at the Greenmount Campus, just outside of Antrim and was only a few minutes drive from the airport. Facilities were first class and all registration, changing areas and café were in the same building right next to the start and finish lines. This was even better due to the cold blustery windy conditions and the occasional driving rain. The girls decided that they still wanted to have the small tent put up, so standing back & watching them fighting with the wind & what to do with the poles was one of the many highlights of the weekend. The U15 girls were the first race we had athletes competing, and what a fantastic start to proceedings. Their race was over a distance of 3.6k and 2 laps of the course, which at first glance from the start area and the map looked to be over grassland and flat. When we walked the course it became very different, as it was very boggy in places and lots of camber and small clicks up & down, a very testing course. There were 4 girls lining up from our party (Lydia Turner, Anna Fawcett, Sophie Burnett and Sophie Montgomery of Blaydon Harriers). Towards the end of the 1st lap we were being asked constantly by other spectators where Birtley AC was from, due to Lydia being in 1st place and Anna beginning to make her way from 4th to 3rd position. The announcer on the public address system did his best to mention all athletes and their Clubs and report from around the course on positions, therefore Lydia and Anna and Birtley AC were constantly being mentioned. The final positions were Lydia 1st, Anna 3rd, Sophie B 11th and Sophie M 14th. With Lydia, Anna and Sophie taking the 1st team prize! Next up to race was Tom Goulding (U15) with what was his first race in a Birtley vest, and was competing over the same course and distance as the U15 girls. Tom worked through the field and finished a very creditable 7th position, just one place from the prizes, well done Tom and here’s to a good future with Birtley AC. Our final two athletes to race were Adrian Bailes and Chris Peverley in the U17 Mens race, which was over 3 laps of the course and 5.4k, their race also incorporated the U20 mens event, so there was a good size field and a chance to compete against older athletes. Three laps around that course must have been very tiring and both lads stuck in and gave a good competitive performance against a strong field. Adrian finished 14th with Chris coming in 20th position out of 47 finishers. The International Senior Women and Senior Men races were the last races of the day, then it was into the cars to find our hotel. We stayed at the Hilton Templepatrick near the airport and made good use of the pool and sauna in the leisure facilities. Up bright & early on the Sunday morning for breakfast and to the airport for the 9:15am flight back to Newcastle. Well done to all athletes who competed and have gained good experience racing in a different environment and against different competition to the normal local races. A big thank you to Sophie & Paige who although injured and unable to compete still travelled to support their training squad. Also thanks to Tony and Brian for their help and support throughout the weekend. It is always a pleasure to take Birtley AC athletes to events and competitions, and the Antrim weekend was no exception. Many thanks to the young travellers, you are all a credit to yourselves, parents and Club. Results Under 15 Girls 1st  Lydia Turner  14:47 3rd  Anna Fawcett 15:04 11th  Sophie Burnett 16:14 14th  Sophie Montgomery Blaydon Harriers 16:25 Under 15 Boys 7th  Thomas Goulding 13:55 Under 17 Boys 14th  Adrian Bailes 20:58 20th  Chris Peverley 21:34

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