Yacht Handicap – 3 Miles (3.1miles/5km actually)
This race was founded on an open handicapping system that allocates each runner a handicap (time allowance) based on their potential speed, estimated from their past performances and in comparison to other Saltwell runners. The runner with the greatest time allowance starts first and the one with the least allowance starts last.
If predictions were fulfilled, all runners would finish together. However, no-one can predict exactly how runners will perform on the day, so that has yet to happen and there is always scope for surprises.
The first race featuring this type of handicap took place on Wednesday 17th December 1890 over the longer 6.7 miles Chowdene course. About 30 runners took part and it was won by Charles Lyall, who was cheered into the finish by two or three hundred spectators. Those were the days when there were no TVs and other distractions to detract people from the lure of real sporting activities.
The first Saltwell Harriers “race” over 3 miles was the very first weekly training run on Wednesday 1st October 1890. It featured a two-pack handicap system with the slow pack setting off 2 minutes ahead of the fast pack. However, the first record of the Saltwell Harriers 3 Miles Club Championship was on Monday 11th July 1892, won by H.C. Calvert in 16mins 21secs. The oldest full record of positions for the 3 mile Yacht Handicap is for 1988, when Bob Waugh won the handicap and David Robertson was the fastest runner in 15m 30s.
Anniversary Shield and Junior Championship – 4 Miles (about 4.1 miles actually?)
Based on a sealed handicap system, all runners start together. The Anniversary Shield is awarded to the winner of the handicap. The Junior Championship originally went to the fastest runner in the race with the proviso that they could not compete for the title in future years. Since the mid-1980s, former winners have participated in the competition, some finishing first, even though they cannot be awarded the title again. This now means that the Junior Champion is the fastest runner never to have won the race before.
The earliest record of this race is for 1913, when S. S. Stephenson won the race and with it the Junior Championship.
Saltwell Harriers Senior Championship
The first Senior Championship, in 1892, was a 3 mile race. The race is now ran over the 10K Chowdene course but there is evidence that, in some years of the early decades of its history, the race was held over the shorter distance of one mile. Runners start together and the winner is awarded the Senior Championship. This award can be and has been on many occasions won more than once by the same runner. The Club rules provide for a miniature trophy to be given to anyone winning the Senior Championship three times.
Athletes achieving that feat are as follows:
R W Hill 1894, 1895 and 1896
F Melville 1905, 1906 and 1907
W Irving 1910, 1911 and 1912
F Milligan 1920, 1921 and 1922
Davy Mole 1923, 1924 and 1925
J McShane 1926, 1927 and 1928
Jack Potts 1930, 1931, 1932, 1934, 1935, 1937, 1938 and 1939
R T Brown 1948, 1949 and 1950
M Atkinson 1952, 1953, 1954 and 1955
John Anderson 1957, 1958, 1959, 1961 and1962
John Hillen 1960, 1963, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1971, 1973, 1974 and 1975
Dave Kelly 1976, 1977 and 1978
Kevin Forster 1979, 1981 and 1982
David Robertson 1988, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995 and 1996
Fred Smith* 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007
Jim Thompson* 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014
* Results not available for 2000, 2002, 2003 and 2011
St James’ Mile
Originally held in St James Park, Newcastle, the race disappeared from the Club series for a number of years before it was resurrected in the 1990s and held on various one mile road and track venues.
The earliest record of this race is for 1926, when it was won by T.R. McNaught. Daniel Henderson won it in 1995 in 4m 41s. Since then it has been a regular event in the Club’s annual series of internal races. Fred Smith has featured prominently in most of these races along with, in the last decade, Jim Thompson.
Joanne Howell had three successive victories in the women’s race in 2004, 5 and 6.