Harriers enjoy a successful outing at Druridge Bay

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A total of just over 1,500 finishing runners took part in the ten-event programme at the second Start Fitness North Eastern Harrier League meeting, held at a sunny and relatively warm Druridge Bay Country Park, on Sunday.

A total of 75 Morpeth Harriers helped the club enjoy one of its best days on a competitive front, with no less than five team wins, one second team place, a third team place, and two of their athletes managing fastest times of the day.

Following a most disappointing start to their 2016-2017 Harrier League campaign at Wrekenton the previous week, the clubs Senior Men exacted a swift revenge upon their rivals in Division 1, when they achieved an excellent 59-point margin of victory over Tyne Bridge Harriers, with the third club North Shields Poly, over 50 points further adrift.

Leading the Morpeth Harriers charge was Mark Brown, who is now making a very encouraging competitive comeback to the sport following a lengthy sabbatical.

Mark was one of the clubs leading young lights in the 1990s, and has also returned to his club as an active coach to some of their promising youngsters, whom he was also encouraging from the side-lines before donning his own spikes to finish in an exemplary fourth place from the Slow Pack, just missing out on an on the day Harrier League medal by five seconds.

He was also being watched by his own former coach Brian Simpson.

Brian is still taking an active interest in the sport, despite his advancing years, and he managed a wry smile as he watched his former charge in competitive action, leading his club to success.

One place and only one second adrift of Brown was club colleague Fergus Bates.

Sixth place also saw a Morpeth Harrier cross the finish line.

This was Chris Smith, who has been selected to run for England in the Home Countries Masters International Cross Country in Scotland next month.

Running from the Medium Pack, Smith clocked the tenth fastest time in the 584 field of finishers.

Sam Hancox, who had competed at Sutton Park the previous day, was the next Morpeth man home in 11th place.

Running from the Fast Pack, he was second fastest overall behind Gateshead Harrier Callum Johnson, who finished in seventh place, also from the Fast Pack.

Completing Morpeth Harriers Senior Men’s winning tally were Steve Patterson (14th) (Slow Pack), and Thomas Straughan (19th) (Fast Pack.

Running from the Fast Pack, Morpeth Harrier Emma Holt once again produced the second fastest time of the day when finishing fifth overall in the Senior Women’s event.

She was only headed by Sunderland Stroller Alyson Dixon, who was 26 seconds faster, and two places ahead of her.

Holt led Morpeth Harriers Senior Women to first team place in Division 2, with further support coming courtesy of Jane Hodgson (15th) (9th Fastest) (Fast Pack), Josie Cram (24th) (11th Fastest) (Fast Pack), and Jane Briggs (73rd) (Slow Pack).

Daniel Dixon, of Morpeth Harriers, certainly continued where he signed off at Wrekenton the week previous, when again he recorded the fastest time in the under 15 boys event, by coming through to second place, and an on the day Harrier League medal in the Under 15 Boys event.

He also led Morpeth to a team win by a margin of 19th points over Durham City, with further team support coming from Andrew Hudspith, who finished third from the Slow Pack, and also winning an on the day Harrier League medal, and Daniel Melling, who finished fourteenth from the Fast Pack, who was the day’s fifth fastest performer.

Another Morpeth Harrier making a repeat of her previous week’s performance was Under 15 Girl Holly Peck, who again produced the fastest time of the day when finishing fourth from the Fast Pack.

Holly also led Morpeth to a team win by 11 points over Houghton Harriers, with further excellent team support coming from Ellie Coxon (13th) (7th Fastest) (Fast Pack), and Lily Heaton (15th).