Men’s Captain Report 2019-2020
It was ideal timing to be asked to captain the men of Elswick Harriers along with Scott Brady after we had both taken part in the Tokyo Marathon in March. This was Scotts 4th world major marathon and for me it was my 6th for which I earnt the six star finishers medal. We are both honoured and proud to find ourselves in this role, especially at a club that has been running since 1889 which is steeped in history and has seen some great runners wear the Elswick vest over the years.
It has been a fantastic year to become captains, in which we have both learnt a great deal about the role, arranging teams for relays that all have different rules and regulations has been an interesting learning curve but one we have dealt with on a race by race basis, whilst liaising with ladies captain Andrea Banner along the way. I don’t think we have ever been on Run Britain and strava as much as we have been in the last year to find out what our male teammates have clocked in races and training etc. Thanks to ladies captain Andrea Banner for her support and guidance along the way.
One area that has been special to see is the commitment and enthusiasm demonstrated throughout the year from whether its training or racing distances from 100m to ultra-marathons or simply to run for pure enjoyment the dedication shown is inspirational.
It’s been a pleasure to watch the development over the past year of Jamie Styles and Christopher who have made the step up to the senior set up as well Tom Milburn who has ran some 10ks as well as being included in senior relay teams. From parkruns to running the Blaydon race these boys have shown they have an ample of aerobic fitness enabling them to run fast times, we are looking forward to watching them progress even further this coming year.
It has been a pleasure to see so many of our runners supporting locally ran relays over the past year which have included our own Good Friday relays, Gordan Smith relays, Weetslade relays, Gosforth Summer Relays and the Signals relays, Farringdon XC relays and again our own Norman Woodcock relays as well as masters relays. These are a fantastic way to team up fellow runners in a fun relaxed atmosphere in which we have seen some fine individual performances which has fuelled finishing high up in the rankings.
The new scoring system within the club championships has encouraged more runners to engage within the championships which has given runners a fair chance of gaining points from just attending as well as racking up points for running short, medium and long races. It was astonishing to see 50 of our club runners at the first club championship event of the campaign at Newcastle parkrun on Saturday 30th March 2019, this im sure was the real reason that Newcastle parkrun set a new record of 842 participants for its event, we as a club had 6 first timers with 11 runners achieving parkrun pbs. Throughout the course of the year we had strong fields out at the Terry O’Gara 5k, Clive Cookson 10k and the Sunderland 5k.
The Sunderland 5k on Thursday 11th July attracted a very strong field of runners across the 2 races. The V50 men head of first with the ladies in which saw Mark Turnbull run 18:10 and finishing 8th. This was an amazing time after completing the TriX on June 29th 2019 which incorporated a swim of 4,121 yd followed by sitting on the saddle for 115.78 miles and then just a mere marathon to finish. Mark Mcnally finished in 35th with a time of 21:06, this is incredible for a guy that’s in his 70s, if I’m running times like that when I’m his age I will be more than happy. To see him and Club Chairman Harry Matthews who is also V70 whom finished 48th crossing the line in 23:25 is very inspiring for us younger ones.
Looking at the mens race Andrew Ball was gutted on the night not to break 17 mins as he finished 55th with a time of 17:15, however he had just been on holiday and still managed to knock a huge chunk off last year’s time. Scott Brady was returning to his normal strength over 5k as he ran 17:57. Crossing the line in 102nd was Jonathan Rewcastle who ran a pb of 18:54, stunning run from Jonathan on that night who was wearing new trainers for the first time. The run of the night for the Elswick men came from Andrew Bell who rarely runs with a watch decided to wear one that particular evening, much to his delight he ran a pb of 16.43 coming in 42nd that just shows you the strength of the field.
It was very competitive across all the championship rankings after the tough Jelly Tea 10 mile race on a warm and windy Sunday in August. To finish a very close and enjoyable club championship were the Heaton Memorial 10k and the Brampton to Carlisle 10m road race both held in November. Here are the final standings of the club championships and a huge well done to everyone who pulled up their socks and had a go.
Senior men gold – Andrew Bell
Senior men silver – Richard Houghton
Senior men bronze – Stephen Addison
Men V40 gold – Andrew Ball
Men V40 silver – Chris Pearce
Men v40 bronze – Lee Coulson
Men V50 gold – Mark Turnbull
Men V50 silver – Mike Russell
Men V50 bronze – Rob Lambert
Men V60 gold – Peter Sloan
Men V60 silver – Rob Wilson
Men V60 bronze – Tom Hanson
Men V70 gold – Harry Matthews
Men V70 silver – Mark McNally
The summer track and field league in which sees Elswick join forces with Blaydon Harriers has seen many athletes take on events from 100m to shot put. Catherine Lowes does a fantastic job in pulling it all together but we do know that it would be great to see more athletes from our ever expanding club support these events that are fun and friendly. From our point of view maybe the opportunity to practice some of the events may lead to greater numbers showing an interest to participate. The club would like to thank the male and females that have supported these events across the area however during this season. I will never forget that photo of Ben Hall and a fellow runner in the 400m hurdles, Ben has a gift with photos but that one was an absolute classic. The team finished in a promotion position which is absolutely fantastic news. Huge credit to Catherine Lowes.
Our club delivered a very popular event in the Newburn River Run which took place on Wednesday 12th June 2019 just 3 days after the Blaydon Races. The club had a packed roster of volunteers wanting to support the event who all had a hand in delivering an incredible event. We received many positive comments following the event especially saying how friendly our volunteers were on that soggy wet evening. Looking the results it was evident to see just how many unattached runners ran on the night which was amazing to see, this demonstrates that people view this and our club as being friendly and welcoming. I have been an unattached runner so I am aware that how off putting it can be to attend races with fast runners. Elswick harriers were well amongst the prize list that evening with prizes for the men going to 3rd v40 Andrew Ball, 3rd v50 Mike Russell, we also scooped the team prize consisting of Andrew Ball, Luke Hilliard and Jason Old.
Over to the mud and hills of the beloved XC. Having been at another club in Lincolnshire whom also attended the local XC series I was unsure of my interest in XC. However the events in the North East are something to treasure, the numbers coming together from clubs across the area to attend each race are exceptional, there is a real community here for cross country and long may it continue. It’s been my first experience in registering athletes from the club whom with to run in XC series this season, it’s been an absolute honour to register 69 male runners with 14 being new runners to field of XC.
The 1st race of the campaign began at Wrekenton on Saturday 28th September following heavy rain fall this proved to be a proper XC. Unfortunately due to a clash of races I was unable to attend but it was great to see on the results that we had 4 complete teams of 6 runners and a further incomplete team of 2 runners so all in all 26 male runners from the club endured the hills and mud in which 8 were also debutants whilst Mark Turnbull was promoted to the medium pack after finishing 55th. After this round team Elswick were 10th in Div 2.
Round 2 which should have been at the stunning Druridge Bay on Sunday 6th October was cancelled due to a waterlogged car park.
In my time I have not known of 2 consecutive XC’S being cancelled however the rain fall caused a waterlogged car park at the Lambton Estates meaning that another XC was postponed.
They asked for mud they got mud and plenty of it at Aykley Heads on very wet and muddy Saturday 23rd November 2019. Some managed to stay on their feet others fell and some fell more than others on that very slippy ankle deep in mud afternoon. This was a proper XC experience which was endured by 12 Elswick Harriers in which Simon Allen made his xc debut for the club, what an event for your debut. There were promotions to the medium pack for Adam Bell whom finished in an awesome 4th position and then Steve Robertson who finished in 31st.
The North Eastern Counties Athletic Association held their 114th annual cross country championships at Alnwick on Saturday 14th December 2019. The event itself commemorated 25 years since the 1st European Championships were held in Alnwick. Unfortunately only 5 men out of the 10 entered were able to turn out in windy but pleasant conditions. Richard Houghton, Simon Allen, Peter Sloan, Robert Lambert, Robb Young were counters for the team however on this particular occasion the Elswick men were classed as an incomplete team as the rules state the men needed 6 finishers. However the guys that travelled to Alnwick worked extremely hard against the wind on a fair course and their efforts were noticed by the club.
Saturday 4th January 2020 saw the running of the Sherman Cup at Temple Park. It was fabulous to see so many Elswick Vests competing in the various age groups that are required for a combined score for the this particular cup. Elswick males from the U13 boys to Veteran men finished a phenomenal 6th.
It was fantastic for the guys to field a complete team at The Northern XC Champs that were held on Saturday 25th January at Bedale. Despite their efforts the men finished as a team in 37th however there were many incomplete teams participating as 6 counters were needed to score.
Due to the storms that were battering the UK the Harrier league event at Thornley Hall farm was cancelled due to car parking on 2 consecutive weekends. I have never known a XC season to be like this before. I liked a suggestion one of our club members made and that was to “park on the course and run through the car park”
Hooray finally the harrier league resumed normal service on Saturday 29th February (leap year) with the assistance of yet another storm named Jorge. 9 brave Elswick men took to the slightly adjusted course in front of the phenomenal structure of Alnwick castle with Harry Potter waving in his wand to leash magic upon the famous red and white vest. This had an amazing effect on the men as they produced some fine performances from for example Simon Allen, Joe Higgins and Robert Lambert. Elswick finished 6th in Division 2 on the day and climbed one place into 9th position in the divison league 2 table.
6 Elswick men competed around the stunning estate of Lambton on Saturday 14th March. The guys were greeted by very pleasant conditions which saw Chris Pearce score 1st for the red and white vest. Next across the finish line was Rob Emson with Lee Coulson closely following. Ben Hall and Rob Young had a mad dash to the finish however Ben demonstrated just how quick he can move over a short distance. Bringing the Elswick troop home was Rob Wilson who was the 6th counter meaning we had a complete team out resulting in the team remaining 9th in division 2.
Then we were hit with the outbreak of the coronavirus which called a halt to all proceedings from Tuesday 17th March until ??? well its now the 15th July and we have only really started back training in groups of 6.
The club also runs a cross country championship event for the Start Fitness North East Harrier League
Here is the list of male award winners
Senior men gold – Joe Higgins
Senior men silver – Jonathan Rewcastle
Senior men bronze – Paul Taylor
Men V40 gold – Chris Pearce
Men V40 silver – Lee Coulson
Men v40 bronze – Daniel Nettle
Men V50 gold – Simon Allen
Men V50 silver – Rob Lambert
Men V50 bronze – Mark Turnbull
Men V60 gold – Rob Wilson
Men V60 silver – Peter Jobson
Men V60 bronze – Tom Hanson
Men V70 gold – Harry Matthews
Men V70 silver – Graham Leslie
Casting a huge eye on other events throughout the year we had 60+ plus runners at the hugely popular north east event in the Blaydon Races which are always held on the 9th June. This year 4169 runners crossed the finish line in Morrisons car park for a race that is totally ran by volunteers whom had difficulties of staging the race due to a situation out of their control. However the team work tirelessly in making sure the race went ahead and as they made alterations to the distance of the race meaning it was shorter than usual.
Saturday 15th June saw the running of the Rat Race The Wall, 69 miles from Carlisle to Baltic Square. I had had the pleasure in experiencing this race back in 2015 which was the weekend when my family and I moved to the North East, so that was quite some arrival. With that in mind I knew how extremely challenging this event is, I applaud the efforts of Michael Clegg 16:04:38, Chris Hull 22:33:54 and Ross Kyle 23:55:13 who took on this ultra-marathon which on the day saw competitors run around 70-71 miles, I can guess that those extra 1 or 2 miles were not welcomed!!!
Chris Hull doesn’t seem to shy away from huge challenges and he also completed the Dark Skies triple 14m, 26m and 10m races over a weekend in March 2019. Each of these races alone are challenging around the area of Kielder Water so to complete the set is again amazing.
Way back in April 2019 Scott went into the Boston marathon with an I.T band injury, this was his 5th world major marathon out of 6. With Only New York to go in November 2020 and with all the money spent on accommodation and flights Scott decided to take on the challenge which must have been incredibly hard mentally going into. However he showed great strength mentally and physically in completing this historic race starting from Hopkinton and finishing on Bolyston Street in Boston. Another step closer in achieving that six star medal, congratulations Scott.
There are many males athletes within the club that somehow find the time to train for 3 disciplines, huge credit to these fine specimens to name a few, Robert Lambert, Mark Turnbull, Graham Bell, Iain Hardy, Johnny Lowes, Stephen Addison, Chris Pearce, Mike Russell, Adam Bell and I know of a few that are thinking of taking the challenge of Ironman in the future. It was great to hear the Robert Lambert and Mike Russell had both qualified to ride and run for Great Britain in the veterans race at the 2020 ETU sprint distance duathlon European championships in Spain. Both secured a new pb with Mike finishing 16th and Rob 23rd in their respective age categories.
Sunday 7th July 2019 saw Graham Bell and Iain Hardy took on the full iron man distance of Challenge Roth in Germany. The Challenge word is the brand that is similar to the well-known Ironman brand BUT Challenge Roth has its own entity within the Challenge group. Time once again to: swim 3.8km bike 180km run 42.2km = 226kms or 140.6 miles. Reading their report on the challenges and experiences they both had just filled me with so much delight for the pair who overcame all that was thrown their way. I just don’t know how these boys do it, from fitting in all the training over 3 disciplines, lugging all their luggage across to Germany and then to complete the distances required, again im overwhelmed by just how well they both did, especially Iain who is awaiting a hip replacement and struggles with a calf injury. Simply awesome gents. Im not going to list times as just completing that challenge is enough in its self but there wasn’t much between them at all.
To mention Mark Turnbull who successfully completed the TriX for the 3rd consecutive year which I’m told is the toughest full distance triathlon in the world. Picking some piece out of Marks report, TriX is an extreme iron distance event with numbers limited where you get to see the whole Lake District in a day – it’s a proper adventure! 2.4 mile swim in Windermere, 112 mile cycle following the infamous Fred Whitton route with a couple of even harder bits and then a 27 mile ‘run’ to the top of Scafell Pike and back, easy. Part of the challenge is to actually finish within the 20 hour cut off and many don’t – out of 150 entrants, 80 started and only 50 finished. Mark finished 7th overall and 2nd V50 in 15 hours 12 minutes in which during this he endured 13000 feet of climbing on the bike and 5000 feet during the run. Imagine waking at 3am for breakfast and then starting the event at 4:30 am that gives everyone the best chance of finishing in daylight. Massive Kudos.
Stephen Addison and Adam Bell on the 14th July completed the UK Ironman in the glorious region of Bolton, Lancashire. Stephen finished in a time of 11:33:38 in position 99th whilst Adam came in at 13:54:36 in position 597th. I know Adam had been struggling with injuries which had prevented him of running months prior, so with that in mind that demonstrates huge mental strength.
The weekend of the Great North Run is always a brilliant weekend for runners young and older and one I always look forward to, now with the weekend’s events reaching over to Stockton on Tees the event really does embrace the North East giving many people to engage through spectating, volunteering and running. As always at this event it was a fantastic turn out from across the groups at Elswick Harriers on a warm Sunday 8th September 2019. Having ran at many big events across the world this race this race is always high up on my personal races to run each year, it certainly lives up to the title it has as being the biggest half marathon in the world. Speaking to fellow runners and looking at strava afterwards it was great to hear and see each person’s journey from Grandstand Road to South Shields, some of which made huge leaps forward by running pb’s on a challenging course. No better way to spend a Sunday morning than hearing spectators shout your name and club!
The rain on the morning of the cleared as runners gathered at the start of the 2020 Brass Monkey which gave new half marathon pbs to Andrew Bell 1:15:41, Andrew Ball 1:17:56 and myself Richard Houghton sneaking in under the 80 minute mark with 1:19:39. A mention here to Martin Connelly who finished 5th in the V50 category in 1:23:11.
A special mention to the 4 vet 50 runners of Martin Connelly, Mark Turnbull, Jason Old and Iain Hardy whose team were promoted 2nd place in their age group at the fast, popular and very wet Royal Signals relays at Hetton Lyons Country park on Saturday 15th February 2020.
It takes runners of all abilities to create a great club and we have that especially when we have bunnies making the transition to the senior group for example Michael Clegg and Simon Allen. Andrew Bell and Andrew Ball have both had a superb year, whilst Andrew Bell has faced some injuries he has clearly been head and shoulders above us all when fit. He certainly has a gift which he demonstrates in a training run on his own or at the club or within a race situation, long may his personal development continue at this club where he ran as a junior. Please please stay with us to give us slower ones someone to chase, joking aside you are a real asset to this club as we all are.
I remember lining up alongside Andrew Ball at the Redcar half marathon in 2016 in my training for the New York marathon. We had a chat in which he was unattached at the time, following that he soon joined us at Elswick. From that he has developed into a very powerful strong runner over various distances in a short space of time. Looking forward to seeing what the next year holds for him and his progression.
I would like to make a special mention to Ben Hall. Ben was running very well up to the 2017 London marathon since then he has encountered a few health issues and injury’s which has affected his running. I have always been an admirer of Ben because of his work rate, this has really shown in the last year when times have been really tough for him both personally and running wise, he has simply just stuck at it during a time where he could have made an easy decision to quit. He has been committed to attending club sessions and as well as running on his own and adding in a long run over the weekends sometimes alone or with fellow runners. This determination along with not being work shy has proved its worth and it gives me great pleasure to see him performing well again. Huge pat on the back Ben your journey will certainly inspire others when times are tough.
Scott and I are looking forward to what the 2020/21 season brings of course if there is one!!!