BANG!! And it begins, hundreds of runners are off, jostling for position in the crucial first few hundred metres before the race becomes a slow grind of passing one runner at a time.
I came into running only as an adult at the age of 36, so never grew up with cross-country or running events. I joined Northern Frontrunners only in 2013 as my first running club, and we were too small to field teams in NEHL. We were focused on road running and parkruns, and most of us didn’t have any idea what cross-country even was. We read with awe the updates from our friends in other clubs, discussing how many millimeters of spike they planned to wear, or what pack they were starting in.
Having grown to 100 members, over the summer this year we asked if there was any interest in NEHL, and to our surprise got 8 men and 8 women to sign up. Following an inaugural run at Wrekenton, we turned out again at Druridge on October 9th. Having got the bug, we are now addicted and our hearts started beating faster as soon as we turned off the A1068 at the sign for “XC Race”. Seeing the avenue of club tents was so uplifting – we had arrived again.
Our advance party had set up the tent right next to the finish straight, and what better way to enjoy the ridiculously hot conditions than in a deck chair with a cup of coffee, watching runners fight their way uphill in a final lunge for position.
Our biggest concern this time was not the mud but the hardness of the ground. One wrong step on the rutted path under the grass could mean a twisted ankle. Two of our runners tumbled on the terrain, but thankfully no lasting damage was done.
The organisation was smooth, the marshalls cheery to a fault, and the views from the top of the hill down over the lake and country park stunning. We are thoroughly enjoying this league, and whether we finish bottom or win promotion we will be back next year.