The end of season finale to the NEHL cross country took place on Saturday at Wrekenton. For some athletes it was a chance to secure points and position, as it was a counting event for the club’s championship. For the club, it was the opportunity to secure and consolidate division 2 status for both the women’s and men’s teams.
For many though, this day was to pay our respects to our dear friend and fellow Elswick Harrier, Kevin Stephenson, who passed away on Thursday, 12th March 2015.
Mary Lisle provided black ribbons for the club’s athletes and Team Elswick spectators. As more and more club members gathered around the tent, you just knew this was going to be a fine turnout for Kevin and the club. People greeted each other. We consoled one another. We re-kindled memories of Kevin, but as the minutes passed by, the time had arrived when it was time to compete and so the day started with the junior races. Once again the juniors got the day off to a fine start.
First up were the U11 boys. Results: Zak Old, 16th in 6.59. Omar Tumia, 23rd in 7.12. Next the under U11 girls. Results: Emily Alison, 9th in 7.05. Caitlin Flanagan 21st in 7.51. Well ran Juniors, there were all very good times J. Next were the U13 boys. Results: Jamie Styles, 23rd in 11.14. Ben Flanagan, 25th in 11.15. Matthew Grant, 33rd in 11.39. Well ran lads. You were placed 8th out of 47 clubs. Well Done.
Next the U13 girls. Anna Styles, 35th in 12.35. From the fast pack: Marissa O’Rouke 38th in 12.37. Also from the fast pack Hannah Tumia and Susannah Fielding 48th & 49th respectively and both receiving a time of 12.58. Well ran everyone. Collectively you were placed 7th overall out of 47 teams. Congratulations.
From the U17 girls and U20 women and running from the fast pack another fine XC run from Charlotte Baston running to a 15th place in a net time of 29.13. Well ran Charlotte. For the season: U13 Boys 6th. U13 Girls 7th. U15 Girls 29th. U15 Boys 37th. U17 Girls 27th. U17 Boys 44th. Well done everyone.
The women’s race: Another superb turnout by the ladies of Elswick. Once again they did not disappoint (Times are net): Judith Nutt 9th 26.34. Sarah Davies 22nd 29.10. Sara Blight 30th 29.22. 38th Mary Lisle 29.31 (Kevin would have been proud of you). 63rd Emma Turnbull 29.31. 80th Marie Louise Drozdowicz 80th 30.11. Claire Tumia 81st 28.11. Andrea Banner (Fast Pack) 99th 26.24. Kim Matthews 125th 30.46. Catherine Lee 143rd 29.03. Jill Bennett 227th 33.09. Lalage Brown 232nd 33.19. Melissa Bateson 255th 34.34. Michelle Coleman 283rd. 36.33. Congratulations to all the women racing today. Collectively you were placed 1st on the day and finished the season in an excellent 4th position overall 🙂
The men’s race started with an announcement to the first pack on the start line that there would be a minutes silence for Kevin. It was perfectly observed. There were tears shed, arms around each other and heads bowed. The whistle was blown and the men’s race commenced. What a picture it was. Hundreds of athletes headed off towards the first hill. After the first pack was away it was followed by the medium pack and then the fast pack athletes (Kevin at his peak was a consistent Fast Pack Athlete. He loved cross country :)).
It was easy to spot that Red, White & Black vest with the black ribbon. You could see that every Elswick athlete gave it everything. It made you proud. There were many a fine time produced today, some excellent pack work, resulting in high finishing positions, given the total numbers of athletes competing (502 runners crossed the finish line). The men’s results are as follows (Times are net): First home for the club, Chris Pearce 54th 37.49. Steven Knight 57th 35.22. Jonny Bolton 97th 38.28. Richard Carr 103rd 38.32. Bradley Clough 105th (Fast pack N/C) 33.32. Jason Old 111th 36.07. Iain Hardy 112th 36.07 (Kevin would have been proud of that run). Steven Robertson 117th 38.43. Seamus Kelleher 148th 39.03. Lee Bennett (Fast Pack) 151st 34.03. Andrew Lee 176th 39.30. 177th Alan Thompson 39.30. Dave Jardin 207th in 40.00. Anthony Benyon 212th 40.01. Ben Hall 219th 40.12. Mark Turnbull 226th 37.47. Mark Carpenter 228th 40.17. John Lowes 241st 40.29. Paul Turner (Fast Pack and returning from a broken collarbone injury) 267th 36.00. Tom Hanson 322nd 42.31. 350th Harry Matthews 43.38. Daniel Nettle 387th 44.46. Robert Emson 412th 45.36. Phil Baston 416th 45.48. Steve Curry 472nd 49.15. Last but by no means least, Jeff Emerson 490th in 53.47. Twenty six ‘Men of Elswick’ ran today. The best turnout yet. Collectively you were placed 4th on the day and overall for the season you were 6th placed team. A fine reward against tough opposition in greater numbers. Once Jeff was back at the tent, Team Elswick jogged back to the start line (along with other club runners who knew Kevin).
Iain Hardy announced that “This one is for you Kevin” and with a mix of juniors, men and women athletes, set off on a tribute lap. Some folks walked a shorter lap. In time, one by one, group by group, the runners made their way across the finish line. They were all warmly applauded by quite a number of spectators. It was a moving site. Throughout the day, photos were taken, with the final ones taken after the tribute lap.
We rounded off the day with a beer and delicious cake! We said our good byes to one another, dismantled the tent and headed home.
I would like to say an indebted ‘Thank You’ to everyone who turned up to support Kevin and his beloved Elswick Harriers on Saturday.
Each and every one of you were magnificent. A special thank you I feel must go to Mary Lisle, Steve Robertson, Catherine Lee, Dave Jardin and Lalage Brown who helped in many ways today.
I have no doubt that Kevin’s family and his ‘work family’ would have been deeply touched by all of your efforts on Saturday.
In my humble opinion, togetherness and friendship at such a heartbreaking time is what makes our club special.
We will all miss you Kevin. Rest in peace.
You were quite simply:
A great man.