Aykley Heads XC Race Report

10801528_10203132659618946_8790278936151392041_n There are 2 major elements that make cross country races tougher than road races – hills and mud, and the Aykley Heads course had both of those in spades. This is the first time there has been a cross country race on this site and there had been a lot of interest in the course profile beforehand.



Ladies were off first with Sarah running from medium, Gemma from fast & everyone else from slow. After watching the start of the race i made my way over to the far end of the course and the dreaded hill to cheer everyone on as they fought their way up it. It was a good turnout from the ladies with Gemma taking the win (with a performance that would have seen her finish in 3rd place had she been running from the slow pack,) Sarah coming in 2nd place and Jacqui putting in a gutsy performance to take 3rd place.


It was then time for the men’s race.


As Jim wasn’t running today because of injury it left Graeme and myself to set off from the medium pack, 2 and a half minutes behind the “slow” pack. After a short loop round the field the course descends down to the railway line – gradually at first and then precariously down a very slippy and muddy section with a hairpin bend at the bottom – I’m suprised the tree at the bottom was still there by the third lap with all the people grabbing onto it for support.


There was then a flat section alongside the railway track, made tricky by the intermittent boggy sections which were hard to spot because of the low sun in your face.


Then the hill.


I  wouldn’t say it was as hard as the hill at Prudhoe, but the thick sticky mud that prevailed for most of it combined to make it a tough challenge and certainly the hardest part of the course.


Then there was a short steep mudy descent before another u-turn and ascent to make up the ground that had just been lost.


The course then flattened out again to loop round and join the start for lap 2.


The first lap hadn’t felt too bad, but I really started to feel the effects on the second one, especially by the time I got to the hill again.


I often find this the case with xc races – your’re still reasonably fresh on the first lap, and on the last you know that your almost on the home straight so are able to dig that littke bit deeper, but I always find the 2nd lap to be the hardest.


There were a few people walking the hill this time and the temptation to do the same, or even stop was strong.


The support from the rest of the saltwell team spurred me on though and helped me to push through.


By the third lap the field had thinned out a bit more which made for some easier running, especially on the more congested parts of the course.


On the last section just after the last hill I noticed an abandoned shoe and wondered if the owner had also abandoned the race and made a beeline for the car park.


I finished as 2nd saltwell counter after Fred, and in front of Dave and Ben who finished on the same time but Dave narrowly winning the sprint finish.



I’d also like to congratulate Iain who had a fantastic race – the best I’ve seen from him to come home 6th Saltwell counter.


So all in all a great day out – a proper cross country course and great to catch up with everyone.


It was also great to see Walter racing again after the injuries he’s had lately.


It was then time to cycle home to Wrekenton which just managed to do so before it got dark (just as well as I didn’t have my lights).


Results from the race can be found here


Next up, Wallington next week


Brampton to Carlisle results

Congratulations to everyone who ran in the Brampton to Carlisle 10 mile road race today – some fast times and great performances all round


95      Jim Thompson      V45    1:02:38
160    Gemma Bradley    L35    1:05:52
310    Philip Young           V45    1:13:48
347    Dave Candlish       V40    1:15:52
463    Jacqui Candlish     L45    1:21:41
464    Sarah Jones          L        1:21:45


Full results can be found here



Ayckley Heads Cross Country 22nd November

The next Harrier League fixture is at Aykley Heads Durham on 22nd November and is a joint effort from Derwentside AC, Durham City and Elvet Striders. Hopefully we have a challenging course, plenty of parking and a wonderful view of the Cathedral.


I have attached maps of the three courses we will be using on the day. The Garmin measured distances are in each title.


We have 1,000 car parking spaces at County Hall staff car park for runners and spectators.. Entry to the car park will be via the main gates which are situated at the roundabout. Full directions will follow. Please do not park anywhere else as the roads near the site service a hospital and Durham Constabulary HQ. Your vehicle is likely to be towed away.


If any clubs are looking to bring a coach please let me know as we will need to use an overflow area for coach parking.


Race HQ will be the main entrance area of County Hall.


Any other details please let me know.


I hope you all enjoy the event.
Mark Davinson
Race Director
Aykley Heads Cross Country


Full lap Aykley Heads Cross Country 2.1 miles U11 course Aykley Heads Cross Country 0.9 miles U1720 women Aykley Heads Cross Country 1.7 miles