Sixteen athletes from Morpeth Harriers took part in the annual end-of-season track-and-field showpiece that has become very much a special event in the North East fixture calendar, The Tartan Games, which was held at a very blustery Gateshead International Stadium on Sunday, August 24, writes George Patterson.
Sprint specialists Sean O’Hara and Jack Hepple were very much the club’s stars, however, there were also some very encouraging performances achieved by some of the club’s lesser-known athletes.
O’Hara achieved a personal moment of glory when he retained his U15 Boys’ 300m title by breaking the event record with his clocking of 37.13s, knocking over two seconds off the previous best.
Accompanying O’Hara in the 300m was his Morpeth Harriers club colleague Will Kelly, who placed sixth in 40.72s.
After clocking 11.10s in his heat of the Senior Men’s 100m, Hepple returned later to comprehensively win his final, clocking a slightly faster 11.04s, with a wind speed of plus 0.4, which was differing event by event.
It was also a successful day for two other sprinters from Morpeth, when Jake Jardine and Declan Stoker finished first and second in their respective heats of the U15 Boys’ 100m in 12.07s and 12.39s. They returned in the final finishing second and third in 12.22s and 12.30s.
The pair also ran in the 200m, finishing third and fourth respectively in 24.97s and 25.21s.
Beth Laidler finished third in the Junior Women’s 100m, clocking 13.45s.
In the U15 Girls’ 100m, Naomi Arkle finished third in her heat in 13.56s and then finished fourth in the final in a slightly faster 13.54s.
In the 200m, she placed fourth in her heat in 28.24s and in the final she clocked 28.79s for seventh.
Meanwhile, Arkle’s younger sister Nadine was also in action.
She finished fourth in her heat of the U13 Girls’ 200m, with a clocking of 30.34s, and then clocked 30.78s for seventh in the final.
In the very young U11 Boys’ sprints over 60m, Morpeth Harriers Bobby Stone and George Balmbro finished second and third respectively, with clockings of 9.80s and 10.41s, which unfortunately did not see them through to the final.
Stone, however, did find some compensation in the fact that he finished third in the 600m in 1m57.66s.
Another Morpeth U11 athlete who competed well was Rhiannon Hedley, who achieved a new pb of 1m52.43s, when finishing second in the 600m.
Abby Sheldon finished second in the U17 Women’s 800m, where she clocked 2m31.25s.
She also competed in her favourite field event, where 21.31m brought her third place in the javelin.
Morpeth Harriers did have three winners in the field events in Claire Reid, Rebecca Murray and Gregor Sharp.
Reid had her victory in the Senior Women’s discus, where her best throw of 35.01m put her a good metre-and-a-half clear of her closest rival.
She also won the javelin with a best of 19.92m and finished third in the shot with 9.88m.
Murray had her victory in the U15 Girls’ discus, with her best effort of 28.17m, and finished second in the shot with 10.00m.
Sharp, meanwhile, found 27.74m good for victory in the U15 Boys’ discus and he putted 10.15m for third in the shot.
Morpeth Harriers only other field-event specialist in action was David Thomas, who finished second in the U15 Boys’ long jump, achieving a best of 5.22m.
Morpeth Harrier Ady Whitwam was the oldest competitor in a 13-strong field in the Senior Men’s 3000m steeplechase at the CAU Inter Counties Track and Field Championships, held in Bedford on Sunday, August 24.
He performed well by clocking a season’s best of 9m32.78s, which saw him finish in sixth place overall.
Although they were not officially first past the post, Morpeth Harriers Senior Women were declared overall winners of their event at the Durham Summer Relays meeting, promoted by Durham City Harriers and held at the Durham University Sports Ground, on Monday, August 18.
They won the title because the Birtley AC team that finished 21 seconds in front of them fielded an ineligible younger runner and had declared as a guest non-scoring team only.
Morpeth Harriers clocked a total time of 34m43s over the three legs, courtesy of Vicky Gibbs (11m33s), Alison Brown (12m20s) and Emma Holt (10m50s).
They were 84 seconds clear of the next finishing Women’s team from Gateshead Harriers.
Holt’s time was the fastest Women’s time of the night in conditions that proved to be most difficult when the heavy rains came shortly after the start.
In the Masters Race, Morpeth Women’s B team were also prominent finishers.
Clocking a time of 42m21s, they placed third behind North Shields Poly’s A and B teams.
Fastest of their three athletes was Lindsay Turnbull, who clocked 13m30s on leg one.
The team’s effort was completed by Lesley Chapman (14m13s), and Clare Walker (14m38s).
An excellent turn-out despite the wet conditions saw a total of more than 150 teams facing the starter.
In addition to Jonny Taylor, Morpeth Harriers also had an another excellent performer competing in the BMC meeting held in Solihull on Saturday, August 16, when new signing Andy Wiles led a Men’s 1500m C Race field home in a time of 3m50.85s.
He finished fractionally ahead of Dundee’s Matthew White, with Leeds City’s Michael Salter taking third place.
In the Scottish Veterans’ 10k Road Championships held in Glasgow on Sunday, August 17, Morpeth Harrier Bob Marshall finished 38th overall in a time of 39m45s, which gave him an age-graded performance of 88.8 per cent.
Bob was first Over 60 and was also first in his own age group of Over 65 Veteran Men, beating his nearest rival in his category by about two minutes.
This performance should guarantee him a place in the Scottish Masters Cross Country squad, for the International, due to take place in November.
Following on from her superb Commonwealth Games and European Championship medal winning runs in Glasgow and Zurich respectively, the possibility of a below-par performance was always lurking round the corner for Morpeth Harrier Laura Weightman.
That factor certainly caught up with her in Stockholm last Thursday at the IAAF Diamond League meeting, when she finished at the rear of a talent-filled Women’s 1500m event that included the European Champion Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands, who could only finish third.
The fast early pace on a wet and blustery night certainly did not suit Weightman and she was never quite able to get on level terms with the leaders.
Disappointingly, Weightman produced what was possibly her poorest clocking for some time of 4m14.92s.
However, on a positive note, she will now take some time out to recharge and set out a winter training plan with her coach Steve Cram, a programme that her club hopes will include some of their autumn road challenges.
Having Weightman in their ranks at such events would obviously produce a morale boost to Morpeth Harriers’ competitive ambitions.