Blackhill Steelworks Relays – 17th May 2023

by Geoff Hewitson

Over 50 teams took part in this popular mixed team format relay on the site of the former Consett Steelworks. The course is a challenging loop of approximately 2.1 miles with the notorious hill coming near the end. Our Club has enjoyed a great deal of success in this event, having either won it or finished in the top 3 on several occasions. In 2022 we finished runners-up and were the overall winners the previous time it was held (2019). As an “invitation only” event with a limit on the numbers of teams taking part, we were initially limited to a maximum of 5 teams, but we managed to get an extra couple of teams due to other clubs not taking up their full allocation.
Teams A to C were selected on merit, whilst the intention was to ‘balance’ the remaining teams D, E, F and G in order to make it a bit more interesting and competitive for those involved (several late withdrawals and substitutions made this more tricky than had originally been the case). Thank you to Gerry, Jason and Danny who were originally down as reserves but stepped in when needed, and particularly to Kelly W, who hadn’t intended to do this event, but agreed to run at quite short notice to ensure that we had complete teams.
The A team (Joe Addison, Amy Etherington and Alex Hird) put in a fantastic effort in trying to regain the winners shield, but in the end had to settle for third place overall behind a very strong team from Low Fell (38:11) and reigning champions Elvet Striders (38:56).

Our B team (Rob Teasdale, Jo Raine and Craig Westgarth) also secured a highly creditable 8th place finish, whilst the C team of Nathan Ashton, Lisa Donaldson and Sam Etherington finished 15th overall. You may have noticed a mistake in the official results – our G team (Team 26) appear in the top 10, but this is due to the fact that they have only counted the times of 2 of the 3 runners!
On an individual basis, Alex Hird clocked the 7th fastest time overall whilst Joe Addison capped a fine debut for the club with the 12th fastest time. There was very little to choose between the times of Amy Etherington and Jo Raine – only 3 seconds in fact. Amy was 5th fastest lady and Jo 6th fastest.
In fairness, however, everyone played their part in ensuring that this was another very successful night for the club. Spectating from the top of the hill instead of taking part provided a whole new perspective, and it was truly inspirational to witness at close quarters the amount of effort everyone was putting in. My award for the “happiest runner to reach the summit” has to go to Gayle Asquith with her beaming smile, but Laura Newby-Higginbottom came a very close second. Once everyone had finished their run we posed for a couple of photos before heading back to race HQ (Blackhill Comrades Club) for the well earned post-race pies, which I think went down pretty well!
Here is a summary of the results achieved by our teams.