INDIVIDUAL wins by Jane Mooney and Ian Harding and Under 17 Men’s team success were the Morpeth Harriers’ highlights as domestic cross country action for the 2010/11 season drew to a close, writes George Patterson.
There were other strong performances from Morpeth athletes at the final Start Fitness North Eastern Harrier League meeting in Prudhoe, but the Senior Men missed out on overall success by the narrowest of margins.
Mooney won the Senior Women’s event from the Fast Pack, despite giving four minutes’ and two minutes’ start to a good proportion of the field.
She won with nine seconds to spare over Emily Collinge of Gosforth Harriers, to whom she had given a two-minute start, on the toughest of Harrier League courses.
This win certainly confirmed her victory in the Senior Women’s Grand Prix stakes for the season. The club’s other runner in this event was Claire Bruce, who placed 39th from the Slow Pack.
Another Morpeth Harriers Grand Prix winner was Jonny Nisbet, who finished second from the Fast Pack in the Under 17 Men’s event to confirm his success.
He also led his club to team victory over Blyth, with excellent runs by Philip Caldwell (fourth from Fast Pack) and Sam Hancox (11th from Fast Pack) supporting the team.
Caldwell’s effort also sees him finish second in the Grand Prix stakes to Nisbet.
What should have been a possible first Senior Men’s Division One Championship victory for Morpeth Harriers turned out to be a disappointing loss at the final hurdle on countback to Heaton Harriers, who were blessed by an excellent commitment by their athletes on the day while Morpeth were sadly let down in depth by some with other priorities.
Nevertheless, a few die-hard members from the club did turn out on the day to lend support and their excellent performances saw them finish in second place overall and only a mere 22 points adrift of winners Heaton.
Morpeth’s contingent were led home by Ian Harding, who used his Slow Pack start to establish a very early healthy lead, which he never relinquished.
Despite going slightly off course near the end, he came home to win by a comfortable margin of three minutes and 13 seconds over his closest rival.
He was also the second fastest on the course, his time only bettered by Heaton Harrier James Buis by 13 seconds, who had given him a five-minute start by virtue of his Fast Pack status.
Second home for Morpeth Harriers was Terry Wall, who finished third overall running from the Medium Pack.
Ross Floyd, who has enjoyed a superb cross country season in the Morpeth colours, was third home for his club, finishing ninth from the Fast Pack. He was third fastest overall.
David Swinburne, the club’s Road and Cross Country Team Manager, produced yet another exemplary performance when coming home as the club’s fourth counter in 32nd place from the Fast Pack.
Another excellent performer was John Woods, who worked his way through in the Medium Pack to finish in 46th place.
The scoring count was completed by Rob Hancox, who battled hard on a tough course to finish in 69th place from the Slow Pack.
Other Morpeth Harriers Senior Men who gave their commitment on the day were Mike Winter (139th from Medium Pack), Richard Kirby (186th from Slow Pack) and Stewart Bruce (279th from Slow Pack). The result meant the Newcastle club took the Championship trophy by virtue of winning at more meetings than Morpeth.
But even without having to run on Saturday, Morpeth Harriers’ Matt Nicholson and Peter Newton have finished first and second in the Senior Men’s Grand Prix rankings for the season.
Morpeth Harriers’ Under 13 Boys just lost out in the team race on the day to Tynedale Harriers.
They were led home by Ryan Green, who again produced an excellent run to emerge as second fastest on the day by 29 seconds.
He worked his way through to place fourth from the Fast Pack, and excellent team support came from Jacob Hopkins (11th) and Sam Fisher (14th), both also from the Fast Pack.
Other Morpeth finishers in this event were Sam Williams (35th from Fast Pack), Philip Kirby (38th from Fast Pack) and Patrick Booth (39th from Fast Pack).
After spending most of the cross country season being unable to field an Under 13 Girls’ squad, Morpeth Harriers are pleased to be able to call upon some very promising talents in the form of Florence Thomson and Olivia and Georgia Priest, who combined well on Saturday to see their club finish as third team in a very competitive event.
Olivia was first home for the club in ninth place from the Slow Pack, which will probably see her elevated to the Fast Pack next season.
Florence and Georgia also ran from the Slow Pack and finished in 11th and 14th places respectively.
Alison Brown and Joe Elder were lone Morpeth Harrier competitors in the Under 15 Girls and Boys events.
Brown finished a good sixth from the Fast Pack and Elder showed decent improvement in his comeback from injury problems to finish 25th, again running from the Fast Pack.
In the combined Under 11 Boys and Girls event, Morpeth Harriers had four runners facing the starter.
First home was Hamish Thomson, who was ninth overall and sixth boy. One place behind him came Ailsa Jones, who was third girl home.
Morpeth’s other two runners were more from the Priest family. Harriet finished 13th as sixth girl and Chloe finished 17th as eighth girl.
At the presentation at the end of proceedings, it was also confirmed that Morpeth Harriers were winners of the Sherman Cup and Davison Shield competitions that had been incorporated into the previous fixture at Blaydon, and the club were presented with the respective trophies.
l Following a disappointing run in the previous week’s Reading Half Marathon, where he finished well off the pace in 20th, Morpeth Harrier Nick Swinburne bounced back well on Sunday when he placed third in top-class company in the prestigious Wilmslow Half Marathon.
He clocked a much more impressive 65m44s as he split three Kenyans who were battling for race glory.
l Nathan Shrubb, of Morpeth Harriers, clocked an impressive 31m44s when he finished eighth in Sunday’s Eastleigh 10k.
l Morpeth Harrier Ivan Hollingsworth finished third and as first Veteran Man, in Sunday’s inaugural running of the Northumberland Half Marathon at Wallington.
Hollingsworth clocked 77m06s for his efforts.
Other Morpeth Harriers taking part were as follows: Fergus Bates (21st and 14th O/40) 86m25s, Michael McKean (46th and 32nd O/40) 92m54s, Shuna Rank (72nd and fifth Lady Vet) 97m02s, Marie Drosdowicz (101st and 11th Lady Vet) 101m40s, Michelle Woodley (117th and 15th Lady Vet) 104m11s, Andrew Hughes (126th) 104m51s, Jill Sandeman (201st and 42nd Lady Vet) 115m59s, Sue Smith (209th and 46th Lady Vet) 117m16s, Kate Fearns (263rd and 72nd Lady Vet) 124m48s, Jane Blackett (271st and 153rd Lady Vet) 125m59s.
A total of 331 runners completed the event.