Athletes’ attention turns to the track

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With the winter road and cross country season now completed, athletics activity centred mainly on the first Track and Field competitions over the last week and the weekend, writes George Patterson.

In addition, there was the Virgin Money-sponsored London Marathon that attracted thousands from all over the globe on Sunday, plus the Cragside 10k that took place at Rothbury on Saturday.

Four athletes, siblings from two families belonging to Morpeth Harriers, got their track season off to an excellent start at the annual Anne Marie Readshaw Open Track and Field Meeting, held at Shildon Stadium on Sunday.

Unfortunately, conditions were cold and blustery, however, this did nothing to deter Will and Elliot Kelly and Kieran and Rhiannon Hedley, who not only managed to set three new personal bests, but also netted three medals between them.

The best medal winner of the day was Will Kelly, who won gold in the U15 Boys’ 400m, with new figures of 60.5s, and, considering the conditions, could only be described as superb.

Not to be outdone, but unfortunately not medal winning, was that of Will’s elder brother Elliot’s performance, who set new figures in the Senior Men’s 3000m, when finishing sixth in 9m20.84s, knocking a whole 12 seconds off his previous best.

In the U15 Boys’ 800m, Kieran Hedley produced a solid performance to take silver in 2m18.4s, unfortunately about five seconds adrift of his previous best for the distance.

Kieran’s younger sister Rhiannon also produced a silver-medal-winning performance in the U11 Girls’ 600m, where she set new figures of 2m01.7s.

Watford’s first Open Graded Track Meeting of the season, held on Wednesday, April 9, saw Oxford-based Morpeth Harrier James Taylor continue his comeback to competitive action in race two of the Men’s 3000m.

Taylor, who missed most of last year’s action due to a stress fracture sustained in early summer, was in an event that had a total of 34 finishers, on a night that attracted a lot of athletes keen to take in some early season action.

Having only had one competitive outing recently, in the Northern Indoor Championships in Sheffield, Taylor can feel well pleased in the knowledge that he set new figures of 9m05.83s when finishing in 16th place overall.

He now hopes to progress from this, and get a full season under his belt following the disappointments of 2013.

Posting a time of 33m32s, Morpeth Harrier Carl Avery was a very easy winner of Saturday’s Run Northumberland Cragside 10k Road Race.

He won with just under three minutes to spare from the unattached Tim Calder, who clocked 36m24s, with third-placed finisher George Rudman of Blaydon Harriers just a further second adrift.

A total of 232 finishers took part in the event, which was held on the roads inside the grounds of the former Lord Armstrong’s picturesque estate near Rothbury, and Avery was the sole athlete from Morpeth Harriers.

Five athletes from Morpeth Harriers faced the starter in Sunday’s Virgin Money London Marathon and all of them did well by finishing under the four-hour mark.

Speediest of these was Andrew Lawrence, who, after going through the halfway point in 1hr15min34secs, managed to cross the finish line in 2hrs38min25secs, and was 150th male finisher.

Next to finish from the club was Lorna MacDonald, who had gone through halfway at 1hr34min34secs and finished as 190th woman in 3hrs11min37secs.

Ten minutes behind her in 3,300th male place was clubmate, and sometimes training partner Mark Snowball, who posted a finishing time of 3hrs21mins26secs.

Other Morpeth Harriers finishers were Kate Chapman (617th Female), 3hrs28mins18secs; and Richard Kirby (6875th and 1141st Over-40 Male), 3hrs40mins41secs.

Two athletes from Morpeth Harriers travelled to the nation’s capital on Sunday to take part in the Virgin Money Giving Mini Marathon, representing the North East Region.

Nathan Cox finished 49th in the U17 Boys’ 5k event in 15m31s and was fifth from the region.

In the U17 Women’s 5k, Alison Brown finished 70th and was sixth from the region, posting a time of 20m38s.