A day of ups and downs north of the border

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IT was certainly a day of contrasting fortunes for a quartet of Morpeth Harriers who travelled to Edinburgh to take part in the annual Bupa International Cross Country event, held at the Scottish capital’s Holyrood Park, on Saturday, writes George Patterson.

While Alison Brown and Jacob Hopkins both had exceptional runs in their respective events, Jonathan Taylor and Ashley Gibson experienced extreme disappointments.

Brown ran well to finish 96th overall in the combined masses event over an approximate distance of 5k, and subsequently emerged as eighth female finisher in a total field of around 1,800 competitors.

She was also sixth female finisher from her particular section, in a time of 21m04s, additionally she was one of the youngest in the entire field, which outlines her performance proportionally was superb.

Hopkins was delighted to finish fourth in the younger age 2.5k event, and also highlights a much-welcome return to the sort of form he craves for after a lengthy spell of fitness problems, and disappointment.

His time of 7m42s was also only 19 seconds adrift of a podium spot.

Meanwhile in the Senior Men’s International 8k and Women’s Invitational 3k events, Morpeth’s Jonathan Taylor and Ashley Gibson had a frustrating time.

UK Trials Champion Taylor, also a key player in the GB and Northern Ireland silver medal-winning European Cross Country squad, faded to finish 16th and well adrift of the leading protagonists in the challenge against Europe and the USA.

He ended up as fourth counter behind a rejuvenated Andy Vernon (third), Tom Humphries (fourth), and team captain Steve Vernon (ninth).

After being well up with the leading pacemakers in early stages, he gradually fell backwards to finish nearly a minute adrift of the winner with his clocking of 25m19s.

GB and Northern Ireland finished as third team in the Men’s event behind winners USA, who were boosted by their team captain Bobby Mack leading the 31-strong field home.

Gibson tried to go with the early pace in the class-filled Women’s 3k event, which was won by Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba in 9m46s.

Eventually, a disappointed Gibson trailed home in 14th and last place in 10m52s, but hopefully will take from the event some positives about the level of performance with which she was mixing.

l Richard Morrell had his very first victory in a Morpeth Harriers vest on Sunday, in the Old Monks Multi Terrain Race, held in his home town of Hartlepool.

He won with 37 seconds to spare over Durham City’s James Askew, in a time of 30m46s, with Sunderland Harrier Craig Isherwood taking third place in 32m02s.

Also prominent among the leading finishers was Morrell’s younger brother Adam, who finished 14th in 36m02s, and is currently transferring to Morpeth from his previous club, Middlesbrough and Cleveland.

Morpeth Harriers’ other finisher was Archie Jenkins, who was 82nd overall in 42m41s, and took the Over 60 Men’s title.