Morpeth Harriers’ A-team take fourth title in a row

There was certainly a chilly and windy edge to Sunday’s 31st running of the Durham Cathedral Cross Country Relays, held at the Race Course, Green Lane, in Durham, writes George Patterson.

This did nothing to deter the Senior Men of Morpeth Harriers, who took the team title for the fourth successive year.

Nick Swinburn put them on course for success when he came home on first leg in 9m17s, which was to emerge eventually as the second fastest overall time of the day, only bettered by club colleague Carl Avery (9m11s), who confirmed a superb day for the club, by bringing their B-team home to third place, only a mere second adrift of second-placed Gateshead Harriers (29m06s).

Nathan Shrubb’s third fastest clocking of 9m22s, took the Morpeth Harriers A-team further into the lead on second leg, and Lewis Timmins’s sixth fastest clocking of 9m33s on the third and final leg, sealed a very handsome victory in an overall 28m12s.

Morpeth Harriers B-team always remained in contention, thanks to the earlier clockings of Sam Hancox (10m10s), and Thomas Straughan (9m46s), lending excellent support to Avery’s superb final leg effort.

Completing an excellent day for Morpeth Harriers Senior Men, their C team finished eighth in 30m01s, thanks to the efforts of Jordan Scott (10m13s), Kevin Calvert (9m42s), and Chris Smith, making his relay debut for Morpeth, following his transfer from Wallsend Harriers, who clocked 10m06s.

It was also a good day for Morpeth Harriers Senior Women’s A team, who finished second to Birtley in their 3x3k event, posting a total time of 35m48s, which saw them finish 63 seconds adrift of their county Durham rivals.

Jo Carruthers had the Morpeth squad well placed on Leg One with her clocking of 11m56s.

Lorna MacDonald kept them well in contention with her second leg effort of 12m16s, with Josie Cram keeping them in the medals, with her final leg clocking of 11m36s, which was the Senior Women’s fifth fastest overall time of the day.

The young Morpeth Harriers Senior Women’s B squad which comprised one U20 and two U17 athletes, performed excellently to finish 11th overall in 37m51s.

They also finished as seventh Senior team in a mixed field of Seniors and Veterans.

Alison Brown clocked 12m34s on Leg One, passing on to second leg runner Charlotte Jewell, who clocked 12m50s.

Abby Sheldon ran a superb final leg of 12m27s, to bring them home to their final placing.

The Morpeth Harriers Women’s C team was a Veteran team, which finished 53rd overall, and 23rd in the Veteran Women’s section.

Gwenda Cavill clocked 13m41s on the first leg, and Lesley Chapman (14m27s), and Claire Walker (16m01s) completed the Morpeth effort.

The Veteran Men’s 3x3k event incorporated the North East Masters Championships, and Morpeth Harriers secured silver medals in the Over 45s section, courtesy of Fergus Bates (10m22s), Geoff Whitman (10m30s), and Paul Waterston (10m59s).

Morpeth Harriers Over 45 Veteran Men’s B team finished in fourth team place, with Phil Walker clocking 10m59s on first leg, Steve Haswell posting 11m32s on second leg, and Rob Hancox tying things up nicely with his final leg clocking of 10m59s.

Posting a total finishing time of 36m17s, Morpeth Harriers Veteran Men’s D team finished as 11th Over 45 team.

Peter Scaife clocked 12m22s, Jim Alder clocked 12m19s, and Mike Winter clocked 12m06s.

Wrapping up an absolutely superb day for Morpeth Harriers, their Over 55 Veteran Men’s squad finished as third in their category in 37m51s, courtesy of Paul Bellingham (12m13s), Gavin Bayne (12m07s), and Richard Sill (13m31s).

North Eastern Counties Cross Country Champion Jonny Taylor of Morpeth Harriers probably took more pleasure out of being selected as Great Britain Men’s team captain in the absence of Mo Farah, than his own individual performance in Saturday’s International 8k event, at the televised Great Winter Run meeting in Holyrood Park, Edinburgh.

The yearly event, which also incorporated the launch of a brand new four year sponsorship by supermarket giant Morrison’s, that will also include the Great North Run in September, saw an outstanding team victory by the USA, with Europe runners up, and Great Britain taking third spot.

For his part after beginning very prominently, Taylor finished 11th overall, behind winner Chris Derrick of the USA, who was winning the 8k event for the second year in a row, and he was third counter in the Great Britain squad of 12 runners, of which only 11 actually finished on the tricky four lap circuit.

The Morpeth man remained in contention until a midway point on the second lap, when obviously the pace began to tell.

He eventually, after a late determined rally, finished one place ahead of fellow Brit Adam Hickey, just managing to hold off the Southend athlete in a tremendous final run in to the finish.

Jonny Hay (Aldershot), and Charlie Hulson (Sale Harriers Manchester) led the Great Britain squad home by finishing third and fifth respectively.

In addition to the televised events, three Morpeth Harriers were also in action in the Great Winter Run 5k Road event.

Borders based Nathan Cox certainly covered himself in glory, by winning the event in a time of 16m32s, which gave him a victory margin of eight seconds.

Other Morpeth performances came from Jim Alder who finished 83rd, and Graeme Leathard who finished in 147th place.

Two Morpeth Harriers were selected to run for a North of England select squad in the Scottish Inter District Women’s 6k Cross Country event.

The event was won by Central AC’s Morag McLarty, who managed to pass early leader Ashley Gibson of Morpeth to gain victory by a mere five seconds.

Morpeth Harriers’ other selected athlete was Emma Holt, the North East Counties Cross Country silver medallist, who finished fourth overall, and was third counter for the North behind clubmate Gibson, and third placed Wetherby AC athlete Caroline Lambert, only losing out for third by a mere two seconds.