ATHLETICS action at the weekend centred on the North of England Road Relay Championships, held at Leigh Sports Village in Lancashire on Saturday, writes George Patterson.
Morpeth Harriers were very much among the leading clubs in four of the eight competitions on offer and it was their Senior Men who achieved the perhaps most surprising, yet most welcome performance, finishing ninth out of around 115 starting teams in their competition and with a very much under-strength squad.
Second-leg runner Nathan Shrubb was their fastest performer, albeit 10 seconds faster than first-leg runner Lewis Timmins, whose 18m46s had the squad in a very handy 14th place as he handed over to the waiting Shrubb.
Shrubb’s run proved very profitable as he took Morpeth up to what was to be their highest placing on the day of eighth and still within sight of the leading protagonists, who were now being headed by Salford.
Next up for Morpeth Harriers was Under 20 athlete Jonny Nisbet, who was making his six-stage debut for the club. Although he did lose a few places to 11th, he still gave a creditable performance with his clocking of 19m37s.
Ross Floyd on leg four for Morpeth got the club back up to eighth with his clocking of 18m56s. At the front of the field was now eventual winners Liverpool Harriers.
While the leaders had definitely got away, Morpeth continued their fight in maintaining a top-10 position and Andrew Lawrence (19m55s) and another debutant Jordan Scott (19m47s) did their level best to achieve a final placing of ninth.
Moving on to bright hopes, and Morpeth Harriers can also take much pleasure and encouragement from the performances on the day produced by their three competing Young Athletes squads.
The Under 15 Boys finished 13th of 34 starting teams and their overall performance saw them finish only just over two-and-a-half minutes adrift of winners York Acorn in their three-leg contest.
The club’s fastest performer in this age group was Ryan Green, whose third-leg clocking of 10m13s was 14th fastest overall.
Earlier leg runners Jarod Lewis and Jacob Hopkins clocked 10m25s and 11m04 respectively, which were 46th and 56th fastest overall.
Thirteenth team place was also achieved by Morpeth Harriers’ Under 13 Boys squad in their three-leg relay, with Kieran Hedley achieving their fastest clocking of 11m13s.
It was quite remarkable that Hedley had made it to the championships, considering he had spent most of the early part of the week leading up to it in his sick bed with a very heavy cold.
Hedley’s clocking was 18th fastest in the competition and he was well supported by the efforts of Philip Kirby (11m49s – 44th fastest) and Joe Dowd (12m19s – 64th fastest for the championship debutant).
Morpeth Harriers’ Under 17 Women performed well to finish in 17th place out of 28 who faced the starter.
Alison Brown’s 12m40s run saw her finish eighth on the first leg, which gave the squad a very encouraging start.
Brown’s time was 18th fastest overall in the competition and she was supported in the Morpeth effort by Sarah Wilkes (14m47s) and Hannah Sheerin (13m47s).
• Thirteen Senior athletes from Morpeth Harriers travelled to Dumfries on Sunday for the annual half-marathon, and all of them managed to finish in the top 150 of 272 finishers.
After most of their individual achievements, the club could well be termed as the ‘Border Raiders’ as apart from a number of Veteran category winners, four new personal bests were posted for the distance.
First home for Morpeth, and also with a new personal best of 76m29s on a tough, hilly, out-and-back course, was Michael Thomsen, who finished fourth behind New Zealander Jon Carpenter of the Corstophine Club in Edinburgh (74m20s).
Next home for the club in sixth place was Paul Waterston, a previous winner of the event, who on this occasion was first Veteran Man and first Over 45 in a time of 77m39s.
Not far behind him in seventh place was Phil Walker, who was second Over 45 Veteran in 77m54s.
Another Morpeth Harriers Veteran category winner was Gordon Dixon, who finished 10th in 79m23s and took the Over 50 Men’s title.
Rob Hancox set new figures for himself of 84m11s when finishing 27th, and was sixth Over 45 Veteran Man. Another personal best on the day was achieved by Tony Lewis, who finished 39th in 86m59s.
Next Morpeth runner home was Charlotte Wilson, who finished 43rd and was second Lady, in a time of 87m41s.
One place behind her was club colleague Jim Alder (the younger one), who also set a new personal best for himself of 87m48s and was fourth Over 50 Veteran Man. Bob Sewell took the Veteran Men’s Over 55 title when finishing 60th in 72m44s.
Next home for Morpeth Harriers in close succession in 84th and 85th places were Steve Haswell and Hamish McCallister-Williams, with respective clockings of 97m20s, and 97m24s.
Lorna MacDonald finished as 16th Lady in 103rd place overall, in 100m24s, and last, but certainly not least, from the Morpeth Harriers camp was Pam Woodcock, who took the Over 60 Veteran Ladies title when finishing 145th in 109m22s.
Many thanks go to Phil Walker for organising a much-enjoyed trip as part of his Morpeth Harriers Grand Prix programme.
• Park Run performances on Saturday saw Morpeth Harrier Graeme Taylor break the course record at Gateshead’s Saltwell Park for the second week running, and in his first outing at the Whitley Bay venue, clubmate and Under 17 athlete Elliot Kelly set new figures for 5k when finishing second in 17m22s, only 20 seconds adrift of winner Scott Ellis of North Shields Poly.
Taylor’s new clocking was an impressive 16m15s, a new personal best.
Morpeth Harrier Nick Swinburn finished 15th in Sunday’s prestigious Swansea Bay 10k in a time of 31m19s.
• Despite the torrential downpour that hit the Morpeth area on Monday, 32 Young Athletes from Morpeth Harriers braved the elements to complete the first in their series of club Road Championships on the one-and-three-eighth-mile circuit of Lancaster Park.
The first event was for Under 13 age group athletes and Kieran Hedley was the first home in the Boys’ race in 8m42s. Eight seconds behind him was Philip Kirby, with Alex Cunningham getting third spot in 8m57s.
In the Girls’ event, which had 10 competitors, Ailsa Jones won in 9m43s – a time which would have seen her finish fifth in the Boys’ event.
Second place went to Teegan Dryden in 10m27s, with Kate Seymour third in 10m33s.
Further results are as follows:
UNDER 13 BOYS
4th Joe Dowd (9m18s), 5th Louis Stripp (9m56s), 6th Adam Shewry (10m11s), 7th David Johnson (10m13s), 8th Matthew Dodds (10m31s), 9th Tom Colvin (10m34s), 10th Matthew Ingledew (10m37s), 11th Alex Colvin (10m49s), 12th James Colvin (10m53s), 13th Cameron Kirk (10m57s), 14th Henry McGrady (11m03s), 15th Mitchell Green (11m07s), 16th Robbie Elder (11m08s), 17th Edward Barry (11m09s), 18th Andrew Whittle (11m14s), 19th Lewis James (11m15s), 20th Callum Morrison (15m47s), 21st Callum Dickie (15m48s) and 22nd Dylan Swarbrick (16m05s).
UNDER 13 GIRLS
4th Natasha Hart (10m51s), 5th Lauren Bailey (10m54s), 6th Frances Bell (12m01s), 7th Olivia Dungait (12m27s), 8th Sarah Williams (12m40s), 9th Lucy Huddleston (12m41s), and 10th Eve Smith (12m45s).