Saturday’s third Start Fitness North Eastern Harrier League fixture saw runners facing the toughest of courses they will probably encounter this season at a new venue at Thornley Hall Farm in County Durham, near Peterlee.
Despite this fact, there were still some good performers on show, especially from the ranks of Morpeth Harriers.
The club had two individual race winners and no less than four of the fastest times of the day in the ten-event programme.
One of those fastest times was produced by Sam Hancox, who had a superb run to finish ninth overall from the Fast Pack.
He was third counter in a Morpeth Senior Men’s squad who finished second on the day to a very strong Tyne Bridge squad in their Division 1 challenge.
Running his first cross-country of the season, Lewis Timmins led the Morpeth squad home, finishing fifth overall from the Medium Pack and posting the sixth equal fastest time.
The club’s second scoring count came from Robert Balmbra, who finished seventh overall from the Medium Pack, clocking the tenth fastest time of the day.
Club newcomer Matt Collison showed great promise for his future with Morpeth when he finished 20th from the Slow Pack.
Completing the six counters were Tim Miley (64th, Medium Pack), and Steve Patterson (82nd, Medium Pack).
Running from the Slow Pack, Taylor Glover won the Under 17 Men’s event from Durham City’s Ryan Watson by a margin of 02.22.
Glover emerged as the second fastest overall in the two-lap race, and was only surpassed by club colleague Kieran Hedley, who produced a superb run to finish in third place overall from the Fast Pack.
Hedley’s time proved to be 63 seconds faster than Glover on the given handicap of 03.20.
Next Morpeth finisher, and closing the scoring count for second place on the day to Durham City was Matthew Waterfield, who had an excellent run from the Fast Pack when finishing ninth overall, posting what was the seventh fastest time of the day.
Not far behind Waterfield, in 11th and 12th places, were his club colleagues Joe Ramshaw and Connor Marshall, both from the Fast Pack.
Morpeth scored exactly the same number of points as Durham.
However, they lost out on countback two places on the count of the third finisher.
Holly Peck was again an individual winner in the Under 15 Girls’ one full lap event from the Fast Pack.
She won by a margin of 15 seconds from tough rival India Pentland, of Darlington, in what will probably serve as a taster for the forthcoming North Eastern Cross Country Championships, scheduled to be held at Aykley Heads, Durham City, on Saturday, December 10.
Peck’s 15 second margin also gave her the fastest time of the day as she led Morpeth to second team place at the event, behind Houghton Harriers.
Accompanying Peck in her club’s scoring count were Lily Heaton, who finished 12 from the Fast Pack, and Lauren Cummings, who finished 21st, also running from the Fast Pack.
Morpeth’s other runner in the Under 15 Girls’ event was newcomer Hannah Pountney, who ran well to finish 26th from the Slow Pack.
Another Morpeth Under 15 athlete in top form is Daniel Dixon, who finished second from the Fast Pack in the Boys’ one lap event.
He only lost out for individual victory to Arun Summerfield, of Gosforth Harriers, by a mere five seconds as he posted the fastest overall time.
Morpeth did take the team race, however, by 16 points over Northumberland rivals Alnwick Harriers.
Supporting Dixon in the excellent team effort were Daniel Melling and Ross Charlton, who each worked their way through the field in the Fast Pack to finish in eighth and 12 places respectively.
The combined Under 17/Under 20 Women’s event, run over two medium sized circuits, saw Morpeth Harriers finish in second team place behind Gateshead Harriers.
Alison Brown led the scoring three home, finishing an excellent sixth from the Medium Pack, and as seventh fastest in the total finishing field of 40 runners.
Supporting Brown in the team effort were Abby Sheldon (eighth, Slow Pack), and Gracie Hufton (19th, Medium Pack).
Mia Belton ran a strong race in the Under 13 Girls’ one full lap event to finish sixth from the Slow Pack, leading her club to fourth team place.
Further team support came from Rhiannon Hedley (eighth, Fast Pack), and Laura Melling (31st, Slow Pack).
The club’s Senior Women finished as sixth team in Division 2 in the two full lap event, being led home by Gemma Floyd, who finished 39th in a 300-plus strong field from the Fast Pack.
She was 15th fastest overall, and was joined in the team count by Lindsay Turnbull (48th, Slow Pack), Jane Kirby (136th, Slow Pack), and Sue Smith (174th, Slow Pack).
Morpeth Harriers’ Under 13 Boys finished in fifth team place, behind Gosforth Harriers, in their one lap event.
They were led home by Ben Walker, who finished seventh from the Fast Pack, and was third fastest overall on the day.
Sixth fastest was club colleague Dylan Davies, who worked his way through in the 60-plus strong field to finish in 11th place from the Fast Pack.
Completing the club’s scoring count was James Tilley, who finished 43rd from the Slow Pack.