Morpeth Harriers Carl Avery and Emma Holt achieved their second double race victory in a month when they won the respective Men’s and Women’s sections of the Morpeth 10k Road Race.
In addition to their race victories, they also both received North Eastern Counties Athletics Association Gold medals.
These were awarded as the region’s 10k Road Race Championships were incorporated into the event, which had a total of more than 300 runners at the start-line on Tranwell Road.
Thankfully conditions were dry on the night, however, runners did encounter a stiff breeze on the uphill section on the Whalton Road, which needed to be scaled twice on the two-lap course that included Tranwell Woods.
The front end of the Men’s race was dominated in its early stages by Durham City’s Dan Jenkin, hotly pursued by a trio of Morpeth Harriers, Avery, Ross Floyd and Thomas Straughan, and Blackhill Bounder Jordan Bell, son of Stewy Bell, the North Eastern Cross Country Team Manager, and a former North East champion himself.
At the end of the first lap, as the runners began their second uphill climb, it was Jenkin still in the command position, but he had still not managed to shake off a determined Avery, and Floyd was still a close third.
At this stage Morpeth Harrier Chris Smith was also in close contention, and Bell and Straughan had drifted a little off the pace, and Morpeth Harriers Junior Elliot Kelly was also getting closer to the leaders.
With only 1k remaining Avery made a decisive move to turn up the pace and he gradually drew away from Jenkin, who decided that he did not quite have enough left in him to win the event.
Meanwhile 2014 winner Floyd had become a distant third, with Smith and Bell both battling for fourth place.
Avery crossed the line in 31m30s, which although was a little adrift of his personal best was still enough to give him an 18-second margin over Jenkin at the finish line.
Meanwhile Jenkin claimed the North East Counties Silver medal, and Floyd hung on in a terrific battle to take the Bronze in 32m27s.
Smith and Bell were not far adrift in fourth and fifth in 32m47s and 32m52s respectively.
Sixth, seventh and eighth places went respectively to Morpeth Harriers trio Straughan, Kelly and Jordan Scott.
Straughan clocked 33m05s, Kelly’s 33m48s was not only a new personal best, it was also a massive 60 seconds faster than his 2014 time on the course, where he had finished in ninth place.
Scott clocked 34m19s, coming home nine seconds clear of ninth placed Lee Bennett of Elswick Harriers, who was the first Veteran Men’s finisher.
Completing the top ten finishers was Blackhill Bounder’s Gary Wallace, who clocked 34m50s.
Morpeth Harrier Emma Holt was a clear winner of the Women’s race, finishing ten places better than 2014 in 26th overall, and clocking a time of 36m58s that was also a good 19 seconds faster than her previous course effort.
Holt also received the Gold medal in the North East Counties Athletics Association Championship.
The Silver went to Alnwick Harrier Suzie Barwise Munro, who finished 44th overall in a time of 39m12s.
Third place in the Women’s race, and Bronze medal in the Championship, went to Elswick Harrier Gina Howorth, who finished 68th overall in 40m47s.
Finishing 75th, Blackhill Bounder Lucy Wallace was fourth in the Women’s race in a time of 41m36s, and three places and ten seconds behind her was Morpeth Harrier Catriona MacDonald, who was a prize winning fifth Lady.
All medallists and category winners received their awards at the after race presentation at Race Headquarters at Craik Park, home of Morpeth Town FC, to whom Morpeth Harriers were thankful for the use of their premises on the night.
The awards were presented by the official representative for the event’s main sponsor, Coca Cola/Abbey Well, Jane Buckley, and Morpeth Harriers were grateful for their continued generosity, along with the additional sponsorships from Phil Walker Wealth Management, and Chris Dentice of Stanton Hall Nurseries.
Men Over 40: 1st Mick Thomsen (Morpeth), 11th, 35m26s; 2nd Alan Hodgson (Sunderland), 32nd, 37m31s; 3rd Lee Tait (Unattached), 34th, 37m59s.
Men Over 45: 1st Lee Bennett (Elswick), 9th, 34m28s; 2nd Jason Old (Elswick), 16th, 35m49s; 3rd Simon Cook (Unattached), 25th, 36m54s.
Men Over 50: 1st Paul Waterston (Morpeth), 18th, 35m55s; 2nd Paul Redman (Sunderland), 38th, 38m13s; 3rd Andrew Hartley (Elswick), 41st, 38m45s.
Men Over 55: 1st Peter Grey (Alnwick), 48th, 39m35s; 2nd Martin Gaughan (Blyth), 50th, 39m48s.
Men Over 60: 1st Gavin Bayne (Morpeth), 55th, 40m01s; 2nd John Brown (North Shields Poly), 97th, 42m37s.
Men Over 65: 1st Mark McNally (Elswick), 57th, 40m11s.
Women Over 35: 1st Jacqui Etherington (Tyne Bridge), 81st, 41m50s; 2nd Paula Atkinson (South Shields), 106th, 43m15s; 3rd Kelly Dodds (Heaton), 111th, 43m21s.
Women Over 40: 1st Lucy Matheson (Tyne Bridge), 103rd, 43m09s.
Women Over 45: 1st Jane Briggs (Morpeth), 115th, 43m37s.
Women Over 50: 1st Valerie Wilson (Elswick), 129th, 44m32s.
Women Over 55: 1st Alison Cummings (North Shields Poly), 123rd, 44m07s.
Women Over 60: 1st Lyn Brown (Stocksfield), 236th, 53m15s.
For any of the prize recipients who were not in attendance at the presentation, Morpeth Harriers are currently in the process of sending out, or contacting to arrange handover.
At the presentation, Master of Ceremonies Mike Bateman, Morpeth Harriers Club Secretary, thanked the three main event sponsors, Start Fitness for prize vouchers and competitor race numbers, Morpeth Town FC, Piramal for event parking, Pegasus Riding Centre for toilet facilities, and Teesside Voluntary Emergency Services for first aid cover.
He also thanked race officials for their attendance and club members and friends who had given their time to make the event a success.
Competitors were also thanked for their continued support of the event, which had been run for the 19th time.
Immediately prior to the race itself, at the start line, competitors and officials observed a minute’s silence in respect of former Morpeth Harriers chairman Bill Woods, who had passed away last August, only a few weeks after the 2014 event, and also longest serving member and former Club President Ernie Slaughter, who also passed away in July.