An early start for a lot of the athletes and officials for this years Northern Athletics Cross Country Championships which took place at the new venue of East Park in Sedgefield and great to see so many Clubs supporting the event. The weather held, with no rain and some wind which meant the going was pretty decent for all of the races. (All Age Group Results). As always, thanks to Northern Athletics for once again finding a good venue for the Championships and to all the Northern Officials and volunteers from local club Sedgefield Harriers in building the course, officiating and marshaling throughout the day. Blackburn Harriers had a very good day winning individual medals in the Senior Men’s and Junior Women’s races as well as a team medal in the U15 Boys race.


The closest race of the day came in the Junior Women’s race which saw just four seconds separate the first three places, with the winner (20.09) just one second ahead of second (20.10). Three athletes broke away from the field – Preston’s Libby Huxley, Blackburn Harriers Isabel Holt and Wharfedale’s Amelie Lane. Coming to the final corner with the home straight insight, all three women were still there to be separated. Holt and Lane created a gap between themselves and Huxley and it looked as though Lane was going to take it as she opened a small gap on Holt. But Holt never gave it up as she got on the shoulder of Lane to push her right to the line, Lane taking the win in 20.09 with Holt in 2nd (20.10) and Huxley in 3rd running 20.13. Isabel Holt won the Silver Medal to add to her Silver Medal at the Lancashire County Championships and was the first medal of the day for Blackburn Harriers. After the Presentation Isabel told the Harriers that she was “Really happy to come away with a silver medal in the U20 women’s race. I really enjoyed the race!

L-R Libby Huxley (Bronze) – Amelie Lane (Gold) – Isabel Holt (Silver)

Isabel Holt (Photo courtesy of Northern Athletics)

The Club’s second medal of the day came in the U15 Boys race in which the team placed 3rd to take the Bronze medal. In a field of over a 100 athletes Evan Grime was a runaway winner by some 20 seconds. Sam Aspey had a cracking run to lead the Harriers home to a team medal coming home in 8th place in a time of 12.03 having won the sprint finish with William Delamere in the home straight where just 2 seconds separated 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th places. Speaking to the Club after the race Sam told us that “he felt really good going into the race especially after some good training weeks. The course was great and firm and although it was a fast start to the race i did my best to hold on to the leaders and felt strong as the race progressed, kicking hard into the last bend. It was great to great to see the team get the bronze Medal especially as it was a new team with not everyone feeling 100%.” Jack Wood also had a fine run placing 30th in a time of 12.51 with team mate Henry Ward in 42nd running 13.10, Alex Rothwell in 66th position in a  time of 13.43, Tom Falencki in 73rd post with a time of 14.02 and George Holman (90th) running 14.43. It was a great effort by the lads, epitomised by Henry Ward, one of the athletes not feeling great on the day who told us ” Don’t give up if you are feeling rubbish and let your head win even if it’s not going as you had hoped, you are part of the team“. Great attitude by Henry and the rest of the team.

U15 Boys Bronze Medal Team  — Back Row L-R Tom Falencki Alex Rothwell Jack Wood — Front Row – L- R  George Holman Henry WardSam Aspey

L-R Henry WardSam AspeyJack WoodAlex RothwellNorthern Athletics President Dave Allen. (Photo courtesey of Naorthern Athletics)

Sam Aspey (5)

Jack Wood (10)

Henry Ward (9)

Alex Rothwell (8)

Tom Falencki (6)

George Holman (7)

Blackburn Harriers third Medal of the day came in the Senior Men’s Race. Well into the second lap a group of six athletes were making the running – Johnson (Gateshead), McMillan City of York), Ramsden (Blackburn Harriers), Avery (Morpeth), Heyes (Hallamshire), Steward (Salford). Callum Johnson then moved into the lead and kept that for the rest of the race taking the win and the title in 37.55, half a minute in front of 2nd placed Angus McMillan (38.25) and Matt Ramsden in 3rd (38.53). Matt had won the Northern U20 title in 2023 held at Witton Park and this was his first attempt at the Senior Men’s 12k distance at Regional level, which makes his result – taking 3rd place behind Johnson and McMillan – all the more special. Speaking to the Club after receiving his medal, Matt commented ” I was really pleased with my run at the Northern Champs. I knew that the field of athletes would always be of a high standard and I am really happy to come away with a medal. It was a tough 12km, longer than what I am used to, but a great experience“. Tim Raynes was next home for the Harriers with a very good run after coming back from an hamstring injury in taking 21st place in 40.50 with Luke Betts also running really well to take 28th spot min 41.19. Badr Alainzy had never run 12k previously and had a fine run in 123rd spot with a time of 46.16, followed by team mates Nick Gaskell (V50) running 46.53 in 139th, Mark Chippendale (V55) in 224th with a time of 50.54 and V55 Chris Balderson (57.47) in 330th place. A big shout out too for Rebecca Ward who competed in the Senior Women’s race featuring two hundred and thirty six athletes. Although she was the sole Blackburn Harrier in the race, that didn’t deter her from making the long trip North. Running as she always does, with a smile on her face and embracing the challenge, Rebecca ran a time of 37.01 in coming home in 88th position.

(Senior Men’s Race Start Video – courtesey of Northern Athletics)

L-R Dave Allen Northern Athletics President – Angus McMillan (Silver Medal) – Callum Johnson (Gold Medal) – Matt Ramsden (Bronze Medal) – Consort to Durham County Council Chair. (Photo courtesey of Naorthern Athletics)

Matt Ramsden (Photo courtesey of Northern Athletics)

Matt Ramsden

Tim Raynes (41)

Luke Betts (34)

Badr Alainzy (31)

Nick Gaskell (37)

Mark Chippendale (35)

Chris Balderson (32)

Rebecca Ward

L-R Mark ChippendaleNick GaskellChris BaldersonBadr AlainzyLuke BettsTim RaynesMatt Ramsden

Our U17’s were also competing in both Men’s and Women’s races. In the Men’s race, Daniel Smith had a fine run in 10th place overall running 18.43 as did Oliver Gill in 14th spot in a time of 18.57. Team mates Logan McCredie and Ethan Cutler then came home in 62nd and and 64th respectively with times of 21.10 and 21.15. Three athletes represented the Club in the U17 Women’s race and they were led home by Charlotte Robertshaw in 33rd place overall with a time of 19.12 and her first time as an U17 in the Northerns. with team mates Poppi Watson in 40th spot running 19.34 and Freya Neild, like Charlotte, running her first ever Northern Cross Country Championship as an U17 in 74th place with a time of 21.53.

L-R Logan McCredie – Ethan Cutler – Daniel Smith – Oliver Gill

Daniel Smith (5)

Oliver Gill (3)

Logan McCredie (4)

Ethan Cutler (2)

L-R Freya Neild – Charlotte Robertshaw – Poppi Watson

Charlotte Robertshaw (6)

Poppi Watson (7)

Freya Neild (5)

A big shout out too for our U15 Girls with just two athletes in the U15 Girls Race Lottie Hesketh and Bella McCredie among the 118 athletes on the start line. Lottie ran a time of 15.07 to come home in 45th place with her team mate Bella running 17.25 (104th). Similarly for our U13’s as well on the day. Millie Jordan who has been having a fine season in cross country and was 2nd in the Lancashire County Championships in January, winning selection for the Inter-Counties, added to that, a 16th place finish in the Northerns yesterday, running 11.17 out of a field of over a 100. In the U13 Boys race, again featuring over a 100 runners, Max Unthank who had placed 12th in the Lancashire Championships ran 11.21 to place 46th overall.

Lottie Hesketh (12)

Bella McCredie (13)

Millie Jordan

Max Unthank

From outdoor to indoor, this time at Sportcity on Sunday January 27th for the latest fixture in the Manchester Indoor Series. First year U17 Tamzin Osborne is going from strength to strength in the Pole Vault. Already in this indoor season she has cleared 2.76m and 2.80m and in her latest outing, Tamzin set herself another new PB of 2.85m and broke her own Club Indoor Pole Vault Record which was 2.80m and set just two weeks ago. . (2.85m Vault Video). Also competing at this event was first year U17 George Camara was making his debut over the 60m Hurdles and had a very good first outing taking 2nd place in a time of 9.35 in his Heat before going on to run the 600m in a time of 1.43.80 (4th). U15 Evie Fort was making her debut in this years indoor season taking on the 200m in a Heat which she won in 29.25. (RESULTS)

Tamzin Osborne

George Camara (53)

In the same weekend, over in America, David Holman was running for Wingate University in an Indoor Mile race, his second indoor race in 2024. Having clocked 2.02.54 in an 800m race at the Carolina Challenge last weekend – 19/20th January – foillowing a very tough training session. David was back out at the BU John Thomas Terrier Classic fixture in Boston the following weekend – January 26th & 27th. Although David wasn’t totally happy with his race, he stiil posted a solid time of 4.13.81 in 9th place and afterwards told the Club That it “Wasn’t the best race but wasn’t the worst. Just didn’t feel strong and fully fit. Wasn’t the worst race though so still a lot of positives to take from it“.

Back to the outdoors and this time, road racing at Lytham St Annes, where athletes had to take on the wind over the St Annes Race 10 mile distance. Blackburn Harriers duo Paul Bradshaw and Katie Buckingham were on the start line amongst the near 200 strong field. This was the first time over this particular distance for Paul who had a fine day finishing in 3rd place overall with a time of 57.22 telling the Harriers afterwards that “today was a very windy at the St Anne’s 10 mile. 5 mile out of pure headwind. Long runs starting to pay off and slowly starting to get fitter“. Katie came home in 18th place in the Women’s race running 78.17 and again similar to Paul, her first race over this specific distance. (RESULTS)

Paul Bradshaw (21)

Blackburn Harriers Nick Gaskell took a top ten place at the Inskip Half-Marathon on Saturday January 20th, a race won by Spenborough’s Tom Dart in 72.00 with Alex Curran in 2nd (73.47) and Joseph Livesey in 3rd (75.01). Nick ran 78.16 in 9th place and was 1st V50 as well as being the first Vet athlete in the race. Speaking to the Club after his race, Nick told us that he was “Building a good base and looking forward to racing more in 2024 maybe a target of a spring 10k & later on this year a Half Marathon“.

Nick Gaskell

Matthew and Charlotte Smith competed for their schools at the “North region schools biathlon qualifier” competition on Saturday January 20th, in cold, wet and windy conditions for the event at Edge Hill. The event consisted of a 1 Mile track race in year group races, where points were awarded for finishing times. Charlotte ran 5:54.2 and finished in 2nd place amongst the year 8 girls. Matthew ran 4:41.9 and finished in 1st place amongst the year 11 boys. In the afternoon, Charlotte swam 100m in 1:19.01, and Matthew swam 200m in 2:11.56. When the points were totalled, Charlotte scored a total of 2080, and Matthew scored 2452 — Matthew’s points total exceeded that of any other athlete on the day and was awarded a special “achievement” award. It was a very good weekend for the two Blackburn Harriers as Charlotte got 2nd in year 8 girls and Matthew won year 11 boys and, by totalling over 2000 points, both of them gained automatic selection for the National Schools Biathlon at Bath University in March.

Charlotte & Matthew Smith