Super second for Harrier Laura

MORPETH Harrier Laura Weightman produced a superb performance when finishing second in the Women’s 3000m at the first day of the European Athletics Team Championships, held at Gateshead’s International Stadium, at the weekend, writes George Patterson.

The Olympic 1500m finalist and current UK number one at the seven-and-a-half-lap distance always remained in contention and it was only approaching the bell that she was pressured by the eventual winner, Russian Elena Korobkina.

While Korobkina stole away to win in 9m01.45s, Weightman courageously stuck to the task in hand to command an excellent runners-up spot.

Running against a firm headwind in the home straight, it was local pride, plus brute strength that saw her cross the finish line to collect a much-welcome 11 points for Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

On a day where a fast time was out of the question because of the wind factor, Laura could be well pleased with her eventual clocking of 9m03.11s.

Third place went to Spain’s Iris Maria Fuentas-Pila in 9m03.20s, which was a personal best.

Afterwards, when interviewed by BBC’s Phil Jones, Weightman remained very upbeat about her performance, and thanked the Gateshead watching crowd for urging her through the vital moments.

To run on local soil was an obvious advantage, however she was very pleased and relieved to perform at her best for them.

Those factors were also echoed by Jones’s BBC colleague Steve Cram, also Weightman’s coach and mentor.

Laura can now look forward to the UK trials in Birmingham in a couple of weeks, which is where last year the seeds were well and truly sewn for her Olympic appearance.

Beyond that, Laura can also look forward to the World Championships in Moscow in August, where she intends to run in the 1500m, having already run the required qualifying time.

ALTHOUGH the Stan Long Mile, held in memory of the former Gateshead Harriers coach and legendary mentor of celebrated International Brendan Foster, was the main event at the third North Eastern Grand Prix meeting, held at Jarrow’s Monkton Stadium, on the evening of Wednesday, June 19, it was arguably a night when some exceptional sprint events caught the eye.

Among those sprint performances were no less than 10-point winning efforts by athletes from Morpeth Harriers.

The best of those belonged to Mitchell Gray (2nd, U17 Men’s 100m) 11.8s, Sean O’Hara (2nd, U15 Boys’ 100m) 12.2s, Hannah Brown (2nd, U13 Girls’ 100m), David Storey (3rd Senior Men’s 100m) 11.7s, and Megan Deakin (3rd, U17 Women’s 200m) 28.5s.

In the distance events, young Kate Seymour was obviously the star performer in the Morpeth Harriers camp, as she finished an excellent second in the U13 Girls’ 1500m in 5m35.7s.

Field events saw wins for Ryan Green (U17 Men’s high jump), 1.83m, and Craig Pickup (Senior Men’s shot putt), 8.67m.

Pickup also finished second in the javelin with a best of 31.67m.

Mitchell Green, younger brother of Ryan, finished second in the U15 Boys’ javelin with a best of 22.60m.

Euan Jones finished third in the U15 Boys’ long jump, with a best of 4.54m.

Megan Deakin added an excellent fourth in the U17 Women’s 100m, in 13.7s, to her aforementioned 200m performance.

Another good Morpeth Harriers double performer in the Women’s U17 age group was Kirsty Lang, who finished fifth in the 100m, in 14.0s, and fourth in the 200m in 28.8s.

In the U13 Boys’ 100m, Joe Dowd finished an excellent fourth in 14.0s.

Henrik Paulsen finished fourth in the Junior Men’s 200m in 25.7s.

In the U17 Men’s mile, Morpeth Harrier Elliot Kelly was fifth fastest in 4m45.3s.

Other Morpeth Harriers performances on the night, although not among the Grand Prix points scorers were as follows:

U13 Boys: Cameron Dick (1500m) 5m21.9s. U15 Boys: Alexander Dawson (100m) 13.7s, Declan Stoker (100m) 13.1s, Samuel Williams (1500m) 5m20.9s. U17 Men: Alex Nesbitt (100m) 12.3s, and (200m) 25.4s. Senior men: Chris Robinson (100m) 13.0s. U15 Girls: Naomi Arkle (100m) 13.9s, Grace Tighe (100m) 15.4s, and Stephanie Patten (1500m) 5m48.4s.

FOR the fourth successive year, a Morpeth Harrier took the honours at the annual Elswick Harriers Newburn River Run, which was held on Wednesday, June 19.

Matt Nicholson led a field of 350 finisher’s home on a warm evening on the multi-terrain route from Newburn Leisure Centre to Wylam Bridge and back, in a time of 34m06s.

Clubmate Ian Harding had won the race in 2010, 2011 and 2012, however, on this occasion he was unable to take his place on the start line, as he is currently recovering from a hernia operation.

Nicholson won with 16 seconds to spare over Tyne Bridge Harrier Mark Fenwick, with Nicholson’s Morpeth clubmate Nick Swinburn taking third place in 34m34s.

Other Morpeth Harriers among the leading finishers were Sam Hancox (12th, 37m44s), Michael Thomsen (15th, 38m54s), Chris Waugh (20th and first O/50 Man, 39m19s), Matthew Forster (21st, 39m20s) and Paul Waterston (26th and fourth O/45 Man, 40m14s).

In the Women’s race, Morpeth’s Joanne Brown was fifth female home and was first Over 40, when she finished 84th overall in 44m17s.

Other Morpeth Harriers results were as follows:

Rob Hancox (32nd and sixth O/45 Man, 40m33s), Mike Winter (60th and fifth O/40 Man, 42m51s), Jim Alder (64th and fifth O/50 Man, 43m03s), Jane Briggs (108th and second Over 40 Lady, 46m19s), Nick Armstrong (111th and 18th O/45 Man, 46m32s), Alan Hyde (121st and 20th O/45 Man, 46m53s), Norman Clark (155th and fourth O/60 Man, 49m04s), Geoff Calder (248th and ninth O/55 Man, 54m48s), Susan Smith (250th and 15th O/45 Woman, 54m54s) and Jane Blackett (256th and fifth O/50 Woman, 55m30s).

SUPER-FIT Morpeth Harrier Andrew Lawrence, who in 2011 cycled across America, from Los Angeles to New York in the name of charity, certainly showed yet another act of physical and mental toughness when he competed in the recently held Blaydon Race.

For immediately prior to the event, he completed a journey that lasted seven days from June 1 with another three friends. They reached Europe’s highest mountain Mineralnye Vody 18,510ft (5,642m) in southern Russia’s North Caucasus, climbed it then made the journey back to London in time to catch a train up to Newcastle, arriving just two hours before the start time at 3pm, then ran with the rest of the 4,500-plus, finishing in 38th position overall.

Andrew describes his experience as very similar to serious altitude training; however, a few hours of jet lag and seven days of calorie-deficiency were certainly not conducive to producing a fast time on the day.

He is very much drawn by the traditions of the Blaydon Race, so much that barring injury he will certainly be on the start line in 2014, however he hopes to have a quieter build-up.

PRE-RACE entries can now be taken for the annual Morpeth 10k Road Race, which is scheduled to be held on its normal two-lap course round Tranwell Woods, to the South West of Morpeth, on Tuesday, August 6, at 7.30pm.

The event is being sponsored by Benfield Motor Group, with additional sponsorship coming from Phil Walker, Chartered Financial Planner (01670 517938) and Chris Dentice, of Stanton Hall Gardens (01670 772641).

Further support is coming from Start Fitness and Piramal Care, who are providing race parking at their Whalton Road premises, and all competitors are urged to use this facility, from which directions will be given regarding race headquarters on the night, which are approximately a quarter-of-a-mile from the parking area.

Please note, there will be no parking allowed near the start or finish areas.

There are prizes for men down to eighth place, then first three in Male Over 40, 45 and 50, the first two in the Men’s Over 55 and 60, and first Over 65 Male.

Women’s prizes go down to fifth place, then first three in Over 35 Women, then first place for Over 40,45, 50, 55, and 60 Women.

Pre-race entries cost £8 for UK Club Members and £10 for unattached athletes and are to be sent either by cheque or postal order made payable to Morpeth Harriers & AC to Mrs VM Gill, 104, Ringwood Drive, Cramlington, Northumberland, NE23 1NP.

Advance entries will close on Monday, July 22. Minimum age for entry is 15 on day of race.

Please note, race numbers are to be collected from race headquarters on the night from 6pm until 7.15pm, along with entry on the night, which will be available at rates of £11 and £13 respectively.

Race drinks will be available en-route and at the finish.

Official race entry forms giving full details are on downloadable pdfs from the club’s website – www.morpethharriers.freeservers.com