MORPETH Harriers were a most dominant force both individually and collectively at the annual Elswick Harriers Good Friday Road Races, held on Newburn Business Park, writes George Patterson.
The organisers were forced into designing a brand new course for all the age groups, due to a fire at an electricity pylon on the course a few weeks previous, that rendered the usual route unusable.
In the Senior Men’s 4 Stage Relay, Morpeth eventually took the lead following an excellent early start by Shildon and Sunderland Harriers, and Peter Newton, who had been one of the heroes in their Bronze medal team at Liverpool, brought them home to success after a superb third leg by Nathan Shrubb.
Newton’s clocking for the 2.25-mile distance of 10m12s was easily the fastest Senior Men’s time of the day, and Shrubb’s 10m48s emerged as fifth fastest overall.
The first and second legs of Michael Dawson (10m55s) and Andrew Lawrence (11m07s) proved to be a more than adequate support to a superb Morpeth success, with Sunderland Harriers and Gateshead Harriers occupying the minor placings by a good minute and a half and two minutes adrift respectively.
Morpeth Harriers Senior Men’s B and C teams finished in fifth and eighth places respectively, with Ian Harding clocking the B teams fastest time of 11m07s, and Tom Brooks being the C teams fastest performer with 11m30s.
On an individual front there were excellent victories by Jacob Hopkins (Under 13 Boys), and Ryan Green (Under 15 Boys) in their 1.25mile events.
Ryan clocked an excellent winning time of 5m46s, and also had the added satisfaction of leading a Morpeth Harriers team victory in the Under 15 Boys event, with further support coming from Philip Winkler (2nd) 5m48s, and Elliot Kelly (4th) 5m51s.
Jared Lewis was Morpeth Harriers other finisher in the Under 15 Boys event.
He placed tenth in 6m17s.
Hopkins clocking 6m23s, won with six seconds to spare over his closest rival, and his Morpeth Harriers clubmate Kieran Hedley ran well to place fourth in 6m40s.
Alison Brown finished as second Under 15 Girl in 6m41s for the 1.25mile distance, and led Morpeth Harriers to an excellent team victory, with equally excellent supporting performances coming from Hannah Sheerin (8th) 7m07s, and Sarah Wilkes (9th) 7m11s.
Other Morpeth Harriers finishers in the Under 15 Girls event were Charlotte Jewell (11th) 7m18s, Molly McDonald (17th) 7m44s, and Rosie McDonald (20th) 8m12s.
Jane Hodgson eventually brought Morpeth Harriers Senior Women home to second team place behind the Jarrow and Hebburn team, by clocking the fastest time of the day over the 2.25mile course of 11m55s.
Jonnie Nisbet finished third behind Gateshead’s Barry Maskell in the Under 17 Men’s 2.25 mile event in a time of 11m02s, which put him only ten seconds adrift of the winner.
Fellow Morpeth Harrier Sam Hancox finished eleventh in this event in 12m37s.
Morpeth Harriers Veteran Men’s A team lost out by a whisker to Tynebridge Harriers for second place in their 4 Stage Relay event.
Their fastest time came courtesy of Neil Wilkinson’s second leg of 11m23s for the 2.25mile distance, which was the fourth fastest overall Veteran Mans time of the day behind Sunderland Harrier Brian Rushworth, who clocked 11m03s to help his club to victory.
Morpeth Harriers Veteran Men’s B team finished seventh, with Alistair MacDonald getting their fastest time of 12m38s.
Teegan Dryden and Georgia Priest of Morpeth Harriers finished sixth and eighteenth respectively in the Under 13 Girls 1.25mile race in times of 7m25s and 8m27s.
Spectators watching the eighth running of the North Tyneside 10k Road Race on Sunday were treated to the closest of finishes, with Ethiopian Tadele Geremew just winning by a hairsbreadth from Morpeth Harriers’ Olympic bound Mongolian Marathon International Serod Batochir.
The 2011 winner and course record holder Batochir was always at the head of affairs after the start at The Parks Leisure Centre in North Shields, as the Ethiopian seemed content to tuck in behind him as the pair battled a very slight headwind on their journey towards the finish line at St Mary’s Lighthouse in Whitley Bay.
Indeed it was Batochir who tried to inject some early pace as they rounded from The Gibraltar Rock Public House to the three mile point at the Park Hotel in Tynemouth; however he failed to shake off his rival as they reached there in 14m46s.
Batochir’s course record was definitely in danger at this stage, and it was difficult to determine who was going to take the honour.
The final turn into the finish straight nearly brought disaster for Geremew however, when he failed to negotiate the turn, and Batochir attempted to seize the advantage.
Once realising his error the Ethiopian battled to get back on terms, and just managed to squeeze his way into the lead as the pair approached the finish line.
Both athletes recorded 30m46s, which was fractionally outside Batochir’s course record of 30m20s, however Geremew got the nod from the judge to claim victory.
Geremew and Batochir’s front running tactics had drawn them well clear of the rest of the field, and third man home was Sunderland Harrier Kevin Calvert, who clocked 32m27s.
Fourth place went to North Shields Poly’s Ian Twaddle, who was also first Male Veteran in 32m50s.
Morpeth Harrier Nathan Shrubb finished fifth in 33m01s.
He was closely followed home in sixth place by his clubmate Sam Forester, who clocked 33m20s.
Seventh place went to the First Lady finisher, in Clapham Chasers former Elswick Harrier Justina Heslop, who could feel very pleased with her clocking of 33m56s, which broke the Womens course record of 35m40s set by Durham City’s Rosie Smith in 2011.
Eighth place went to North Shields Poly’s Guy Bracken in 33m58s, and he was also second Veteran Man.
Ian Crampton of Durham City finished ninth in 34m11s, and North Shields Poly’s Gary Moore finished tenth in 34m23s.
Morpeth Harriers had four other finishers in the top sixty, who were as follows:-
Neil Gunstone (20th) 35m14s, Michael Thomsen (27th) 36m03s, Gordon Dixon (49th) (3rd O/50 Male) 37m36s, and John Butters (55th) 37m51s.
The finishing positions of Batochir, Shrubb, Forester and Gunstone contributed to Morpeth Harriers Mens team eventually placing second on countback to the host club North Shields Poly.
With both clubs totalling equal points, North Shields took the title by virtue of their fourth and final counter just managing to finish ahead of Gunstone.
Other Morpeth Harriers finishers in the Mens race were as follows:-
Jim Alder (125th) 41m11s, Mike Steven (170th) 42m38s, Eric Adams (226th) 43m55s, Graeme Leathard (280th) 45m19s, and Michael Morris, who ran purely as a fun runner on the day, and finished 941st in 61m02s.
In the Ladies Race Morpeth Harriers had five runners in the race who finished as follows:-
Marie Drosdowicz (41st) (2nd O/50 Lady) 45m54s, Pam Woodcock (102nd) (1st O/60 Lady) 49m52s, Susan Smith (127th) 51m07s, Jane Blackett (277th) 56m26s, and Lesley Young (278th) 56m27s.
Drosdowicz, Woodcock, Smith, and Blackett combined to make Morpeth Harriers 15th Womens Team.
Over 1,700 runners took part in the event, which was once again splendidly organised by North Tyneside Council, and congratulations once again go to their willing band of helpers, and to North Shields Poly, plus North Eastern Counties Athletics Officials for their valued assistance.
l Morpeth Harrier John Mooney made a welcome return to the athletic scene after injury on Saturday, when he finished thirty third in the Osterlauf 10k in Paderborn, Germany in a good time of 33m14s, considering his lengthy period of inactivity.
l Twenty four hours after competing in the winning Morpeth Harriers Senior Men’s team at Elswick Harriers Road Races, London based Andrew Lawrence kept up his good run of form by placing thirteenth in the Tower Hamlets Victoria Park 5 Mile Road Race in the capital, in an excellent time of 26m17s.