Morpeth Harriers Senior Men’s Road and Cross Country squad were the toast of the North Eastern region on Saturday, when, for the seventh time, they won the Saucony sponsored English Cross Country 4 Stage Relay Championship.
The championships were held as usual at its ancestral home, at Berry Hill Park in Mansfield.
It would be very true to say that there was perhaps no one prouder on the occasion than new English Cross Country president Bill McGuirk, when he was given the honour of presenting the well deserved gold medals, and winner’s trophy to a club from his own region.
Morpeth fought a superb battle over the 4 x 5k event, to eventually take the title in a total time of 61m38.25s, winning by a mere second from London club Highgate Harriers, with Kent challengers Tonbridge AC, who had been first time winners in the 6 Stage Road Relays, at Sutton Park earlier in the month, and were favourites here, a further 48 seconds adrift in third place.
Lewis Timmins began the Morpeth quest for medals on a very competitive leg one, when he came home in 15m39.70s in 21st place.
Morpeth’s second leg runner Jonny Taylor, who has raced very sparingly in recent times, certainly made up for any lost time and ground, by clawing back a mammoth 17 places, as he got round the two lap 5k circuit in an excellent 15m09.35s, which eventually emerged as the fourth fastest of the day.
Although Morpeth’s third leg runner Ian Hudspith lost a place, he didn’t lose much ground in terms of time on those around him, with his individual clocking of 15m42.50s, as the lead changed for the third time in the contest, when Bristol and West took up the leaders mantle, after early leaders Derby had slipped back quite dramatically, and second leg leaders Reading, courtesy of the fastest time of the day of 14m53.05s, by Jonathan Davies, also slipped further back to eighth place.
Nick Swinburn embarked on the final 5k leg and his fell racing experience eventually told as he claimed the much prized gold medals, by clocking the day’s second fastest individual time of 15m06.70s.