Saturday’s North Of England Road Relays, held at Stanley Park in Blackpool, saw Morpeth Harriers claim bronze medals in their Senior Men’s 6x6k contest, writes George Patterson.
The club’s very strong B-team finished a well-accomplished eighth overall and second in the B-team challenge, only losing out to Sale Harriers in the late stages by a mere 14s.
Ironically, it was that time margin that separated the Morpeth A-team from claiming silver, again losing out to Sale, with Leeds City clear winners by a good 50s.
The Morpeth A-team led on the first leg, courtesy of Nick Swinburn, who, despite being marginally sent off course, along with other leading participants at the time, managed to clock a fairly tasty time of 19m55s for the 6k distance, which was his club’s third fastest of the day.
Ryan Stephenson, who was on second leg, still managed to keep the club well in contention with his clocking of 20m55s, although he dropped to fourth.
It was very much a close battle at the front; as Matt Nicholson took the Morpeth A-squad to halfway, holding fifth place overall with his clocking of 20m58s.
Things changed dramatically in Morpeth Harriers’ favour, however, on the fourth leg, when Peter Newton, who has spent most of the past nine months on the sidelines due to a persistent foot injury, clocked an excellent 19m36s, to take them back up to third place and well in contention for medals.
When the final results are fully scrutinised, Newton will probably emerge as one of the fastest performers on the day, which is an excellent reward for his patience in overcoming what was a painful injury.
Lewis Timmins on fifth leg, despite running a slower than preferred 21m16s, was thankful to be able to hold onto third place, with Salford Harriers very close behind in fourth.
Ian Hudspith, on the sixth and final leg, drew well clear of Salford as he got round in 19m51s, which again will emerge as one of the day’s fastest times and was also his club’s second fastest.
He very nearly got to grips with the second-placed Sale Harriers A-runner, however, he just ran out of road.
To win bronze medals in such a way, and without the services of Nick McCormick and Jonny Taylor, certainly gives excellent pointers to the National Six Stage Championships at Sutton Park next month, when the two aforementioned absentees may be available.
Credit must also go to the Morpeth Harriers Senior Men’s B-team for finishing eighth overall.
Their fastest performer was Ian Harding, who, like Newton, has also spent a lengthy period on the sidelines following a hernia operation.
Harding clocked an excellent 20m35s on the fourth leg, which saw the B-team rise from 10th to fifth over the first four legs.
Karl Taylor, on first leg, also clocked an excellent 20m36s, which had the squad in 10th spot. They rose to ninth on second leg courtesy of Michael Dawson’s 21m10s.
Nathan Shrubb’s 21m03s on third leg saw the squad rise to sixth and only slightly behind the Morpeth A-team.
Next came Harding’s aforementioned sterling effort, followed by Graeme Taylor’s fifth-leg clocking of 20m55s, which maintained fifth place.
With the competition heating up around him and despite clocking 22m40s, final-leg runner Jordan Scott slipped back to eighth, unfortunately just losing out to Sale Harriers for first B-team spot.
Meanwhile, Morpeth Harriers’ very much under-strength Senior Women’s squad can feel well pleased with their final placing of 15th in their 4x4.9k relay.
Emma Pearson did well to finish 11th with her first leg clocking of 18m44s and, although Lorna MacDonald slipped to 19th on second leg with 21m41s, Sarah Graham got them back to 11th on the third leg with 19m52s. Kate Chapman got them to their final placement in 21m33s.
In the Young Athletes Road Relays that accompanied the senior competitions, Morpeth Harriers fielded squads in the U15 Boys’ 3x3k and U17 Men’s 3x3.3k events.
Kieran Hedley got the U15 Boys off to a good start, when his first-leg clocking of 10m50s saw him finish in 17th place.
Jacob Hopkins lifted them up a further place with his second-leg clocking of 10m56s, and final-leg runner Euan Jones finished in 15th place, with his individual time of 11m04s.
Unfortunately, illness and injury respectively deprived Morpeth Harriers U17 Men the services of key athletes Phillip Winkler (appendicitis operation) and Ryan Green (foot injury). This left the door open for new acquisition Adam Weightman, formerly of Alnwick Harriers and younger brother of Olympian Laura, to make his competitive debut for his new club.
Weightman did not disappoint as he came home in eighth place on the first leg, with a good clocking of 11m52s.
Elliot Kelly brilliantly maintained this position on the second leg, as he got round the 3.3k course in 12m16s.
Unfortunately, final-leg runner Joe Elder found stern opposition around him as he slipped back to a final placing of 20th with his clocking of 14m28s.
SEVERAL Morpeth Harriers took part in the Bupa Great North Run on Sunday, September 15, and the club’s leading finisher was Ian Hudspith, who following an excellent run in 65m20s was placed 17th.
Unfortunately Hudspith was not the first finisher from a North East club, as Wallsend Harrier Yarod Hagos of Ethiopia finished ninth in 64m14s.
Hudspith was, however, one of the leading veteran Men finishers, who were led home by the legendary Ethiopian Haile Gebrselassie, who was third in 60m41s.
The race was won in a sprint finish by fellow Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele in 60m09s, fending off double Olympic and world 5,000m and 10,000m champion Mo Farah of Great Britain, who clocked 60m10s.
Other prominent Morpeth Harriers finishers were as follows: Ross Floyd (58th, 73m34s, Thomas Straughan (79th, 75m55s), Marcus Cram (153rd, 79m52s), and Matthew Boyle (185th, 80m56s).
Further results show that all of the Morpeth Harriers listed finished within three hours, which is excellent.
On the same day as the Bupa Great North Run, two Morpeth Harriers competed elsewhere in respective half-marathons. Graeme Taylor finished 12th in Bristol in a time of 69m29s and Hermes Carlyon finished 57th in a tough Cheltenham event in 88m30s.
PLACING tenth in a season’s best 78m22s, Michael Thomsen was Morpeth Harriers’ leading finisher in Sunday’s annual Dumfries Half Marathon, which attracted a total field of 213 runners who completed the tough up-and-down course.
Thomsen was also first in the Over 35 Veteran Men’s category and was accompanied by another seven of his clubmates.
Next home from the club was Phil Walker, who had run this event on previous occasions. Phil finished 20th in 81m35s, and was first home in the Over 45 Veteran Men’s category.
Rob Hancox achieved a new personal best of 83m41s when he finished 30th and was third in the Over 45 Veteran Men’s category.
Another Morpeth Harriers personal best on the day came for Chris Waugh, who finished 36th in 86m49s, and was third home in the Over 50 Veteran Men’s section.
There was a very close Morpeth Harriers finish for Hermes Carlyon and Jim Alder, who were 51st and 52nd with respective clockings of 89m05s and 89m12s.
Alder was seventh in the Over 50 Veteran Men’s section. Other Morpeth Harriers finishers were Scott Wilkes and Bob Wells.
Scott finished 130th in 104m02s and Bob was not far behind in 135th place in 104m52s.
They were also 16th and second in their respective Over 54 and Over 65 Veteran Men’s categories.