Laura keeps the Harriers’ flag flying

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ALTHOUGH she admittedly knew that she was never going to get on level terms with the two leaders, Morpeth Harrier Laura Weightman bravely fought out the Under 20 Women’s 6.2k event at the 2011 North of England Cross Country Championships, held at Herrington Country Park, near Penshaw, Tyne and Wear, on Saturday, to gain herself a bronze medal, writes George Patterson.

Laura was her club’s only visitor to the winners’ podium on a day that saw seven individual medal successes come to the region. She finished behind Kate Avery of Shildon and Jennifer Walsh of Spenborough.

However, disappointingly, there was nothing to show on the team front.

While Avery went on to record a six second marginal victory over Walsh, Weightman slogged away to win the bronze from her closest rival by 20 seconds and gave Morpeth Harriers their one bit of glory.

That was not for want of trying however, as in the case of their Senior Women in their 8.2k event.

If Maxine Czarnecka had not had to wait a further three days in obtaining eligibility, following her transfer from Chester-le-Street, they would have in fact have secured bronze team medals.

North Eastern bronze medallist Jane Mooney led the Morpeth squad home, with an exhilarating run to finish in 17th place, just losing out to Chester le Street’s Tracy Millmore in the home straight, for third place from the region, behind Durham’s Rosie Smith (3rd), and Middlesbrough’s Carolyn Summersgill (15th).

Next home for Morpeth Harriers came Czarnecka, who also produced a fine performance to finish 24th, and was sixth from the region.

Sixth team place was eventually secured by Morpeth with the scoring counts of Sarah Graham (52nd), Charlotte Wilson (60th) and Emma Pearson (66th), all being top drawer performances.

Maria Drosdowicz also produced an excellent performance in this her first experience at this level, and finished in 128th place out of a total of 190 finishers.

Morpeth Harriers Senior Men’s team effort in their 12k event was looking very bright when Peter Newton, Matt Nicholson and Ross Floyd all produced excellent runs to finish 16th, 17th and 33rd respectively.

Unfortunately, for the second year running in this championship, team manager David Swinburne lost a shoe, and some valuable ground, as he eventually came home in 68th place.

The scoring counts of Gordon Dixon (191st) and John Woods (243rd) secured eighth team place, unfortunately just behind Durham City who finished seventh, which meant for the first time in many years Morpeth Harriers had failed to hold on to their mantle as leaders from the region in the Senior Men’s Championship.

Rob Hancox was Morpeth Harriers’ only other finisher in this event and he managed to come home in a very respectable 310th place, out of a total of 488 finishers.

Northumberland Schools Champion Jonny Nisbet produced a superb run to place 16th out of a total of 122 finishers in the Under 17 Men’s 6k event.

Unfortunately Morpeth Harriers could not field the required four to make a mark in the team competition in this event. However, the performances of Philip Caldwell (80th) and Sam Hancox (112th) are worthy of mention.

Morpeth Harriers did secure a team result in the Under 13 Boys’ 3k event, where they finished in 13th team place and ahead of North East rivals Gateshead Harriers and Sunderland Harriers.

They were led home by Ryan Green (55th), with further support coming from Andrew Allan (52nd), Jacob Hopkins (119th) and Euan Jones (121st).

Morpeth Harriers sole runner in the Under 17 Women’s 5k event, Ailsa McGregor, placed 43rd, out of a total of 90 finishers.

Unfortunately, Morpeth Harriers were also lacking athletes in the Under 15 Girls’ and Under 15 Boys’ 4.25k events.

Only Alison Brown (61st) and Sarah Wilkes (98th) were fit to turn out in the Girls, and only Henrik Paulsen (113th) made it to the start line in the Boys.

Three Morpeth Harriers competed in the Newcastle 5k Park Run on Saturday.

Gavin Bayne led the trio home in 18th place in 19m04s and Graeme Leathard finished 26th in 19m37s.

Bob Sewell’s 19m51s, which saw him finish 32nd, was a new personal best for the course.

This Saturday, several Morpeth Harriers will be taking part in the Northern Schools Inter Counties Championships at Haydon Bridge School, near Hexham.

Action gets under way at noon.

Meanwhile, on Sunday, the rescheduled third meeting of the Start Fitness North Eastern Harrier League takes place on Newcastle’s Town Moor.

Action gets under way at 12.30pm with the Under 13 Boys’ event.