SATURDAY’S Royal Signals Road Relay Championships, held at Hetton Lyon Park in County Durham, saw athletes from Morpeth Harriers pick up four sets of team medals, writes George Patterson.
The club’s Over 50 men beat off opposition from four other challengers, with a winning margin of four minutes and 22 seconds over their closest rivals Sunderland Harriers.
Fastest for the squad was Chris Waugh, who got round the first leg of six in 13m00s.
He also had established a firm lead in this race, a position they held throughout the legs of Bob Sewell (14m03s), Gordon Dixon (13m23s), Peter Scaife (14m16s), Archie Jenkins (13m58s) and Gavin Bayne (13m28s). They finished 20th overall.
Unfortunate circumstances surrounded Morpeth Harriers Senior Men’s chances of mounting a serious challenge to Gateshead Harriers in their quest for glory in their Six Stage Championship, however sheer determination brought them a set of silver medals as a just reward for their efforts.
After the excellent first leg debut of Under 17 athlete Jonny Nisbet saw the squad in sixth place, with his clocking of 11m30s, Michael Dawson clawed back a further place to fifth with his second leg clocking of 11m17s.
On third leg for Morpeth Harriers was Ian Hudspith, and he eventually grabbed the lead by getting round in what was to be the second fastest time of the day of 10m37s. This left the unprepared veteran Steve Beattie, who was not intending to run but came in to replace the absent Gary Jones, in the position of having to take some pressure on the fourth leg.
Although he did lose some time as he got round in 14m34s and slipped back to sixth, he did leave Morpeth’s fifth leg runner David Swinburne with plenty to chase to get the squad back into contention.
David set about the task ahead of him very manfully, and he eventually got past Elswick and Durham to come home in fourth place.
Final leg runner Peter Newton passed both Sunderland Veterans and Loftus when clocking what was to be the third fastest Senior Men’s time of the day of 10m41s to climb into second place.
Silver team medals were also won by Morpeth Harriers’ Over 40 Men, who finished two minutes and 34 seconds adrift of the aforementioned Sunderland Harriers. Fastest time for this squad was Neil Wilkinson, who clocked 11m25s, which was equal fastest overall in this section.
They held the lead on Leg One, courtesy of Terry Wall’s 11m34s. Paul Waterston held the lead on Leg Two with his clocking of 11m50s.
The race between Wilkinson and Brian Rushworth drew Sunderland closer on Leg Three, and despite David Steel’s clocking of 13m10s on Leg Four he could not prevent the Wearsiders from grabbing the lead.
Whilst losing some ground, Morpeth’s fifth leg runner Jim Alder (not the legendary one) still managed to retain second Over 40 place as he got round in 14m10s. Final leg runner Phil Walker got round in 12m17s to claim silver.
Morpeth Harriers’ fourth medal winning success same from their Senior Women, who finished second behind retaining champions Chester-le-Street in their four stage championship. They achieved their silver success with an entirely new squad, with three having transferred from Chester-le-Street, and one having previously run for Glasgow club Garscube.
Kathryn Foley had Morpeth in ninth place with her first leg clocking of 13m58s, however Sarah Wilkinson soon had the squad in medal contention when she climbed to second place with her second leg clocking of 12m29s, which proved to be third fastest overall on the day. This placing was held throughout the legs of Charlotte Wilson, and Maxine Czarneka, who clocked 13m46s and 13m13s respectively.
Morpeth Harriers Senior Women’s B team finished a very respectable 13th, with their fastest performer being Under 17 athlete Ailsa McGregor who stood up well to the task by clocking 14m17s, and climbed eight places on second leg.
Other B team performers were Claire Bruce (16m23s), Jessica Caldwell (16m40s), and Lucy Sill (16m58s).
l Chris Sampson of Morpeth Harriers finished twelfth in a good quality field at the Barcelona Half Marathon on Sunday, February 6.
He clocked a time of 67m04s, and found himself just outsprinted to the line by Bedford’s Matt Janes.
l Nick McCormick of Morpeth Harriers won the Men’s 1500m at the UK Indoor Championships, which also incorporated the European Trials, at Sheffield Indoor Arena on Sunday.
After achieving an indoor personal best of 3m46.62s when winning his heat on Saturday, he went on to better those figures to 3m45.30s on Sunday when just outsprinting fellow North Easterner Lewis Moses of Darlington.
At the same meeting his clubmate Jonny Taylor finished sixth to Harrow International Andy Baddeley in the 3000m. Taylor clocked 8m04.58s.