Championship qualifier descends on town

The Vo2 Max racing team (left to right) Nick Wilson, Gary Wright and Neil Jefferson announce the staging of the Morpeth Duathlon world championship qualifying race next April.
The Vo2 Max racing team (left to right) Nick Wilson, Gary Wright and Neil Jefferson announce the staging of the Morpeth Duathlon world championship qualifying race next April.
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A TOP sporting competition will be staged in Morpeth next spring as hundreds of athletes will come to the town for a World Championship qualifying event.

Working with the recently-formed Morpeth Town Team, locally-based Vo2max Racing has won the rights to stage a duathlon event that has been accredited by its governing body as a qualifying competition for the ITU Sprint Distance World Championships to be held in Ottawa, Canada, in August.

The duathlon – made up of a 6k run, a 29k cycle ride then finishing with another run – will start and finish in the centre of Morpeth on Easter Monday, April 1.

Competitors will be flagged off from the Telford Bridge end of Bridge Street before heading through Morpeth Market Place then into Carlisle Park to complete the race circuit through Castle Square. Next they will head into New Market, where they will jump on their bikes to set off on a country ride that will take them through Pigdon, Netherwitton and back into Morpeth past Mitford.

The final 4k run will see competitors race around the town centre circuit before crossing the finishing line in the Market Place.

Organisers are hoping large crowds of spectators will throng the streets of the town and through Carlisle Park to cheer on the competitors and they are also planning a series of family and children’s events on the day before the duathlon, including a 5k fun run.

Vo2 Racing has evolved through the Tri Northumberland club, which has been successfully staging triathlons at Woodhorn and Newbiggin for the past four years and is now known as the North’s biggest event organiser of its kind.

“We are incredibly excited about staging this event in and around Morpeth town centre,” said Vo2 Racing’s Gary Wright.

“There has been a huge upsurge of interest from both spectators and competitors in the sport thanks in no small way to the success of the Brownlee brothers Alistair and Jonny in winning Gold and Bronze Medals for Team GB in the London Olympics triathlon.

“So we are hoping for a terrific turnout from both competitors and spectators for the race, which could become firmly established as not only a terrific event for Morpeth but as one of the top duathlons in the country.”

Those sentiments were echoed by David Lodge, Chief Executive of Greater Morpeth Development Trust, who also chairs the Morpeth Town Team. It was formed following a successful bid for £10,000 funding from the Mary Portas initiative to boost England’s town and city centres.

He said: “The duathlon will be one of a series of big events that will draw both local people and visitors into the town centre of Morpeth in 2013.

“The primary job of the Town Team is to put Morpeth on the map as a leading shopping and visitor destination in the region and the duathlon will be a great start to a busy 2013 for the town.”

Sponsors interested in supporting the Morpeth 2013 Duathlon can contact Mr Lodge by calling 01670 503866. Details of the race entry are also available at www.vo2maxracingevents.co.uk