A NUMBER of Morpeth Harriers runners joined more than 4,000 for the 32nd staging of the prestigious Blaydon Race on Saturday evening, and they all faced what were possibly the worst conditions experienced during the course of the event, writes George Patterson.
It was also the 150th commemoration of the original Blaydon Race Festival, which by legend depicted in the famous anthem by Geordie Ridley was traditionally held on a warm summer’s afternoon.
That was certainly not what the runners got in return for their efforts on Saturday, however the conditions en route to the new finishing line in Shibdon Playing Fields in Blaydon did nothing to dispel their enthusiasm to take part.
Ankle-deep water in parts of the course was experienced by all, as a rainstorm of monsoon proportions engulfed the region, however the event was completed to the immense satisfaction of all those involved, helped as usual by the diligence of North East Athletics officials.
Long serving organiser Bob Houston was very praiseworthy in his comments afterwards for the help given by all.
On to the race itself and it saw the most exciting of finishes, with only seven seconds separating the first five.
The field were led home by 18-year-old Peter Lemuya of Kenya, who managed to win by a mere second in 27m35s from Ethiopian Temeros Shiferaw – a previous winner of the event.
Third place went to Tadele Geremew of Ethiopia, who clocked 27m27s and a loud cheer went up when Wallsend Harrier Yarod Hagos came home in fourth place in 27m38s. Although he is an Ethiopian, he is now firmly adopted into the local scene.
Fifth place saw another Kenyan in Milton Rotich, in a time of 27m42s.
Next home in sixth place was Morpeth Harrier Ian Hudspith, also a previous winner, who although eclipsed by Hagos as being the first local finisher was well pleased by his effort to clock 27m51s, and took the first Veteran Man’s title.
Morpeth Harriers were well supported on the team front, with Ian Harding, Michael Dawson and Andrew Lawrence finishing in 12th, 16th, and 26th places in respective times of 28m44s, 29m40s, and 30m17s.
There were also good efforts from the club further down the field, with Neil Gunstone, 17-year-old Jonnie Nisbet and Veteran athletes Paul Waterston and Phil Walker finishing 43rd, 57th, 60th, and 63rd in excellent respective times of 30m58s, 31m41s, 31m48s, and 31m56s.
The Ladies race was won by Lauren Howarth of Lancashire club Leigh AC, who finished a creditable 29th overall in 30m26s.
• There was good news for Morpeth Harrier Nick McCormick when he finished third in a relatively strong field in the Men’s 5000m at the Iberoamericano De Atletisimo meeting in Huelvo, Spain, on June 7.
Not only did he clock a new personal best, he had also set a new club record of 13m18.81s for the distance and in addition he had also finished within the required A standard for Olympic GB selection.
And there were three personal bests set by athletes from Morpeth Harriers at Saturday night’s BMC Grand Prix Meeting held at Watford.
In the Men’s 3000m Steeplechase A race, Jonathan Taylor set new figures of 8m38.05s, which was agonisingly just six seconds adrift of Dave Camp’s club record set at Crystal Palace in 1974.
However, in the case of Laura Weightman, although she only finished fourth she clocked a new personal best of 2m02.52s, which broke her own 800m club record.
The third personal best came in the Women’s 1500m for Ashley Gibson when she finished 12th in the B race in 4m22.90s.
In the Men’s 1500m events, Morpeth Harriers Matt Nicholson and Lewis Timmins finished fourth and 16th respectively in the E and F races, with clockings of 3m54.11s, and 3m56.79s.
• The annual Morpeth Fair Day Fun Run organised by Morpeth Harriers attracted a total of 74 finishers, who all received a certificate commemorating their run and had the added privilege of meeting up with and shaking hands with GB Paralympics star Stephen Miller of Cramlington, who acted as official starter on the day with assistance from his mother and coach Roz.
They also had the opportunity of meeting legendary Morpeth Harrier Jim Alder, who was celebrating his 72nd birthday on the day.
First home on the course – which started outside the Town Hall and routed down Bridge Street, across the footbridge into Castle Square, into Carlisle Park, along the promenade, then a right turn into Oldgate, to finish under the Clock Tower – was Meadowdale year 8 pupil Jacob Hopkins, a prominent member of the host club.
Jacob clocked 5m02s and was followed home in second place by his Morpeth Harriers clubmate and training partner Keiran Hedley, a year 7 pupil at GCSE School in Amble, who clocked an excellent 5m10s.
Third place went to another Morpeth Harrier in Ewan Jones, year 8 pupil at Newminster Middle School & Technology College, who clocked 5m20s.
First girl home was Chantry Middle School & Technology College year 6 pupil Kate Seymour, who finished 11th overall in 6m10s, and as she is not already a member of the Harriers, she was offered an introductory free membership of the club for her winning effort.
One second behind Kate came Amble Middle School year 7 pupil Teegan Dryden, who was second girl, and is already a member of Morpeth Harriers.
Third girl home, and thus emulating her elder brother Ewan’s effort, was Newminster year 6 pupil Ailsa Jones, who was 13th overall in 6m11s. Like her brother, Ailsa is also a member of Morpeth Harriers.
Organisers were very thankful that the threatened possibility of rain stayed away, and the event was able to take place unharmed. The final finisher managed to get round in 14m09s.
A full list of results will be appearing soon on Morpeth Harriers website – www.morpethharriers.freeservers.com