Harriers ace earns spot in European championship

Elliot Kelly receives his Certificate of Achievement from Morpeth Harriers Club Chairman, and Men's Road and Cross Country Team Manager, David Swinburne.
Elliot Kelly receives his Certificate of Achievement from Morpeth Harriers Club Chairman, and Men's Road and Cross Country Team Manager, David Swinburne.

MORPETH Harriers will be forced to reckon without the services of leading light Jonathan Taylor at next month’s North Eastern Counties Championships in Hartlepool a week on Saturday, writes George Patterson.

Instead, he will be spearheading the Aviva Great Britain and Northern Ireland squad at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Budapest, Hungary, on the following day.

Taylor fully earned his selection as the country’s number one when he achieved one of the biggest victories of his career in Saturday’s McCain UK Cross Challenge meeting at Sefton Park, Liverpool, which also incorporated the official European Trials.

He certainly put in an excellent performance as he clearly outclassed a strong line-up in the Senior Men’s 9.8k event and won with 20 metres and four seconds to spare over Aldershot’s Andy Vernon (29m59s), who was defending his title.

Third place went to Stockport’s Steve Vernon (30m00s), with Tom Humphries of Cannock finishing fourth in 30m03s. Inter Counties winner Keith Gerrard of Newham secured the final automatic spot for Budapest when he placed fifth in 30m04s.

The only other Morpeth Harrier competing in Liverpool was Nick Swinburn, who will feel a little disappointed in finishing 59th in 32m10s.

l A week last Saturday saw the 61st running of the annual Brampton to Carlisle 10-mile Road Race and 17 Morpeth Harriers made the trip to Cumbria to take some share of the spoils on offer.

The results have now been ratified with regards to the North of England Championships, which were incorporated within the event, after eligibility checks were made. There was team success in the women’s section as they took victory in front of Keswick AC, with local rivals Blyth RC finishing third.

They were led home by Joanne Brown (third in 65m16s), with Charlotte Wilson placing fourth (65m55s) and Jane Briggs completing the scoring three in 13th place.

Morpeth Harriers’ men were third after Paul Waterston (56m18s) was eighth, Phil Walker (57m02s) came in tenth place and Fergus Bates (57m52s) finished 13th.

Pam Woodcock was first Over 60 Lady in 79m01s and the other club finishers were as follows: Chris Waugh (60m45s), Matthew Forster (61m04s), Rob Hancox (62m45s), Michael Winter (63m33s), Hamish McCallister-Williams (67m52s), Bob Sewell (68m28s), Mike Steven (70m53s), Norman Clark (75m08s), Ian Corner (78m45s) and Peter Maylia (92m34s).

• Morpeth Harriers sprinter Jack Hepple was in electrifying form at the Gateshead Indoor Standards Meeting, held at the Gateshead College facility on Thursday, November 22.

He ran two 60m races and won them both. In the first race, the Under 20 specialist clocked 7.27s, however then returned to better his time to 7.26s which was a new personal best.

Hepple’s athletics career has certainly taken off since linking up with Morpeth Harriers sprint coach Eddie Hedley, which has seen him find a regular place in his club’s Senior Men’s Track and Field squad and win the Under 20 Men’s Grand Prix at the Start Fitness North Eastern Athletics League series.

He still also has the odd link-up with his other coach Mick Groves for additional sessions, which are providing a perfect platform for what is a resurrected and blossoming athletics career.

Hepple began with Morpeth Harriers when he was 11, concentrating on distance road and cross country, and was very much part of a strong Under 13 Boys squad at the time. He then had a spell away from the sport to concentrate on junior football, however two broken legs in 18 months somewhat encouraged his return to his original love.

Other club performances at the Standards Meeting saw Alex Nesbit clock 7.97s for second in the Under 17 Men’s 60m and sisters Naomi and Nadine Arkle finished tenth and third in the respective Under 15 Girls and Under 13 Girls 60m with clockings of 9.13s and 9.32s, which was a new personal best for the latter.

• Following his excellent run at the opening fixture of the Start Fitness North Eastern Harrier League, Morpeth Harriers have given their October 2012 Benfield Motor Group Athlete of the Month award to Elliot Kelly.

Running from the Slow Pack, he showed a clean pair of heels on what was a very muddy course to win the Under 17 Men’s event with 35 seconds to spare over his closest rival and succeeded in clocking the fastest time of the day.

• Holding a justified reputation as one of the fastest courses in the country, the Abbey Dash attracted a record entry of over 7,000 runners to the city of Leeds.

There were a number of fine individual performances and several personal bests recorded by those Morpeth Harriers who made the short journey down the A1.

With neither of Morpeth’s first and second place representatives from last year, Jonathan Taylor and Nick McCormick, opting to run this time, the race itself was won by Luke Cragg of Leeds City in a time of 29mins 30secs, with Josh Lilley of Tipton in second.

Not far behind them, however, was Morpeth’s Ian Hudspith, who placed sixth in a time of 29m59s and also took the award for first veteran male over 40.

He was followed home by Lewis Timmins, 16th in 30m27s, and Ross Floyd, 33rd in a new personal best of 31m08s. Michael Dawson was next home, 46th in 31m42s.

Three Harriers competed in the race for the first time and there was a close battle between them, with Jordan Scott finishing 156th in a time of 34m26s, Mike Thomsen 162nd in 34m37s and Tom Straughan 166th in 34m40s.

There were also personal bests for Scott and Straughan.

In his first race of the year after a long spell out with injury, Peter Scaife finished in a time of 42m24s.

In the women’s race, won by Alison Dixon in a time of 32m53s ahead of two previous winners, Rebecca Robinson and Susan Partridge, Kate Chapman was Morpeth’s sole representative. She finished as 56th woman home, completing the course in 41m50s.

• In the Osaka Marathon in Japan on Sunday, the men’s race winner Serod Batochir of Morpeth Harriers and Mongolia, ran 2hrs 11m52s to set a new course record.

The top Japanese finisher, Yasuyuki Nakamura of Suzuki Hamamatsu AC, was second in a new personal best of 2hrs 15m37s.

Half-marathon national record holder Atsushi Sato of Team Chugoku Denryoku was third in 2hrs 16m26s.

• Although well outside his course record of 16m11s, Morpeth Harrier Graeme Taylor was still more than a match for his rivals in Saturday’s Gateshead 5k Park Run in Saltwell Park, which he won in 16m36s.