Morpeth Harriers were in regional action on Saturday and its athletes put in some excellent performances to give the club one team victory, a couple of minor team placings and a host of fast times, writes George Patterson.
Although heavy overnight rain made conditions quite tricky for athletes at the second Start Fitness-sponsored North Eastern Harrier League, held on new courses at Aykley Heads near Durham City, by the time competition got underway, organisers were blessed with welcome autumn sunshine throughout the 10-event programme, which was also a relief to all who participated.
Considering the testing nature of the course, those who achieved them are to be warmly congratulated.
One of the club’s youngest performers to shine was Holly Peck, whose Fast Pack handicap in the U13 Girls’ event saw her give 100 seconds’ start to a good proportion of her rivals.
Completely undaunted by this, she brilliantly fought her way through to finish fourth. However, she can be well pleased with the fact that she emerged as fastest in the race.
Morpeth Harriers however could not field a full team in this age group, which meant that they did not figure in the team result.
The clubs only other U13 Girl who faced the starter was Nicole Teasdale, who finished 13th from the Slow Pack.
One team victory that Morpeth Harriers did enjoy, however, was the Division Two win by their Senior Women.
That victory now puts them well on course for promotion to Division One for next season, following their earlier win at Cramlington.
They were led home superbly by last season’s Grand Prix winner Emma Holt, who despite giving two minutes and four minutes respectively to rivals with her Fast Pack handicap, came through to not only place fifth out of a record 353 finishers, but also clocking the fastest time of the day.
Also supporting her well in Morpeth Harriers team victory were Josie Cram (sixth) (Medium Pack), Kate Chapman (14th) (Slow Pack), and Lindsay Turnbull (33rd) (Slow Pack).
Cram could also feel well pleased in clocking the 10th fastest overall time.
Morpeth Harriers Senior Men performed well on the day by finishing as third team in Division One.
They achieved this feat supported by an excellent turnout of 12 finishers in all, double the required for team score.
First home from the club was Men’s team manager David Swinburne, who is in the early stages of a competitive comeback following a lengthy injury problem.
Swinburne took full advantage of his Slow Pack start, to finish in eighth place, and sees him automatically promoted to the Medium Pack for any forthcoming fixtures.
Second home, having an excellent run to finish in 17th place from a Fast Pack start, giving five minutes to a good proportion of the 500 plus field, and posting what was the second fastest time of the day was Lewis Timmins.
Third counter was very much in form Junior Elliot Kelly, who came through well in the Medium Pack to finish in 39th place.
Two places behind Elliot was Morpeth Harriers fourth counter Mark Snowball, running from the Slow Pack.
Completing the clubs scoring count were another in form Junior Sam Hancox, and Thomas Straughan, who finished 77th and 78th respectively from the Fast Pack.
Other Morpeth Harriers Senior Men’s performances came from, Paul Waterston (119th) (Medium Pack), Geoff Whitman (140th) (Medium Pack), Rob Hancox (148th) (Medium Pack), Phil Walker (164th) (Medium Pack), Steve Haswell (184th) (Slow Pack), and Mark Crosby (385th) (Slow Pack).
The U17/U20 Women’s event saw the Morpeth Harriers squad finish as third team courtesy of Alison Brown (seventh) (Slow Pack), Charlotte Jewell (23rd) (Fast Pack), and Abby Sheldon (24th) (Fast Pack).
Also running in this age group for Morpeth was Amber Cormack, who finished 32nd from the Fast Pack.
Morpeth Harriers U15 Boys finished as fourth team, being led home by Alex Cunningham, who finished seventh from the Slow Pack.
Second home for Morpeth in this age group was Taylor Glover, however he is still ineligible to count in team competition following his recent transfer from Blyth.
Glover is a superb prospect for future competition, however, in the fact that he was second fastest on the day, running from the Fast Pack, and giving a 100 second start to the majority of the field, he finished 11th overall.
Instead it was Morpeth’s third boy home who was the clubs second counter, this was Kieran Hedley, who came through to finish an excellent 19th from a Fast Pack start, and posting the sixth fastest time.
Completing the Morpeth scoring count was Jamie Duguid, who finished 24th from the Slow Pack.
Other Morpeth Harriers U15 Boys performances came from, Adam Shewry (29th) (Fast Pack), Joe Dowd (35th) (Fast Pack), and Connor Marshall (37th) (Fast Pack).
Unfortunately Morpeth Harriers U17 Men were a runner short to finish as a team, however, those who did compete ran extremely well.
First home for the club in this age group was Scott Beattie, who is still ineligible to count following his transfer from Gosforth.
Scott, running from the Fast Pack, and giving 160 seconds to a good proportion of the field, came through to finish fourth, posting the second fastest time of the day.
Not far behind him in sixth lace was club colleague Nathan Cox.
Also running from the Fast Pack, he posted the fourth fastest time of the day.
Morpeth Harriers other finisher was Adam Gibbs, who finished 12th from the Fast Pack, posting the 10th fastest time.
Another age group who could have done well with another runner were the clubs U13 Boys.
Ross Charlton still continues to blossom as a performer, as he ran well from the Fast Pack to finish fifth overall, posting the second fastest time of the day.
Also performing well in this age group for Morpeth Harriers was Thomas Cunningham who finished 16th from the Fast Pack, clocking the fifth fastest time overall.
Gracie Hufton was Morpeth Harriers lone performer in the U15 Girls event, and she finished 21st from the Slow Pack.
The non scoring U11 age group races also saw some Morpeth Harriers who gave sterling performances.
None more so than Rhiannon Hedley, younger sister of Kieran, who finished an excellent second in the Girls event, only losing out by one second at the finish line to Alnwick’s Lauren Brown.
Morpeth Harriers other competitor in this event was Amy Lott, who finished 23rd.
The club had four finishers in the U11 Boys event.
First of these was Bobby Stone, who finished in eighth place.
Other Morpeth performers were Dylan Davies (11th), Callum Rowell (25th), and Dylan Walker (42nd).
Congratulations go to Durham City Harriers, Elvet Striders and Derwentside Harriers for their first attempt at organising a Harrier League on the new Aykley Heads course, your efforts are most appreciated.
This weekend, however, it is the turn of Morpeth Harriers to step up to the plate to organise, as on Saturday, November 29, the league returns to the splendid setting of Wallington in Northumberland for its third fixture.
Action in the 10 event programme as usual gets underway at 12.15pm commencing with the U11 Boys event.
Competitors travelling to the event are urged to get there as early as possible to enable easy parking arrangements, which will be centrally based within the course, and to car share if possible in order to ease congestion. Help and co-operation from all in this light would be most appreciated.