North East Harrier League XC – Round 5 – Thornley Hall Farm – Jason B

So, trundling down the A19 from work having sneaked out slightly early, my thoughts turned to the notoriously tough Thornley Hall XC. I was thinking it’s a tough old course that, but now it’s in reverse format so happy days. Then as you do while you’re driving my thoughts went to a chat with Geoff on our Thursday night session and his words were “it’s bloody hard either way”, oh dear. 

On arriving it felt so weird, no time for pre-race build up, just “get your spikes on daft lad”, were my thoughts. Anyway on to the report. 😳. 

My warm up consisted of seeing the first group of the the ladies coming through on their second lap. I could see the graft they were all putting in and realised it was going to be a tough race. Probably a bit different from the usual Thornley Hall mud bath we are used to. The day was spring like and quite warm which meant the mud was replaced by hard ruts with only a few soft areas. 

It was great to see Helene leading the team home and Kate slicing through the field from the fast pack in proper beast mode, backed up by Jane and Lisa to complete a top 3 finish for the team then Kimberley, in typically determined fashion, carving through the field from the fast pack heading up a second complete team backed up by Jillian, Clare and Sarah to finish an excellent 12th team, great to see you girls, you’re all a credit to the club. And a mention to Andy T running strongly in the V65 category. He always puts a good shift in. 

And so it was our turn and I wasn’t sure who we had running so it was a relief when I saw distinctive Crook colours making their way to the start. A quick team photo and we were off, charging towards the biggest hill on the course. I felt swamped and in a bit of a panic. Ian and Mark were steaming away from me, After getting up the hill I sorted myself out and hit the reset button. 

On a side note to that, as the years go by and I’m sure many of our older runners will agree, you have to change your approach to races slightly. In my case I can’t go off hard and hang on anymore, It’s now a case of building up and holding a pace. 

Back to the race and after the first big hill you come through the tent village and it gives you such a lift then up another drag before the fence jump which is quite a scary thought if your not used to it. 

Fast forward to the end of the second lap and the race had settled down and I had managed to get onto the back of Mark with Ian still a bit ahead of us. We were in a good place and I knew that when the faster lads came through we would be having a good day. 

Sure enough Alex from the medium pack came through just before the fence jump giving it plenty of air as he went over, after the next incline we were turning for home and Kieran blitzed passed from the fast pack closely followed by Stan from medium. 

It was great to watch this all unfold and made me more determined to push on for a last ditch tear up with Ian. 

That was the first 6 home and with good points to see the team finish 5th on the day. Followed in by Chris H from the fast pack, it was great to see him back after his health issues and look forward to see him rise again, Kris W followed up close behind with a strong run, followed in by Gerry and Martin who had cracking category runs, completed by Paul W who’s running has come on leaps and bounds this past year. 

A cracking day and good results for the club and, by the pictures, a few beers afterwards. 👍👍