SUNDAY’S second Start Fitness-sponsored North Eastern Harrier League, held at Jarrow’s Bedewell Park, again attracted large fields, despite other major events taking place both inside and outside the region over the weekend, writes George Patterson.
The Senior Men’s event, with 547 finishers, saw Morpeth achieve an inspired Division One team victory, which after two meetings puts them firmly in the hot seat at the head of the table.
Having five of their six required counters within the first 16 finishers certainly paved the way to a convincing victory, with Durham City 22 points adrift in second place, and Wallsend Harriers a further 32 points behind in third spot.
To the club’s ultimate credit, no less than four of those who ran in the previous day’s Norman Woodcock Road Race, turned out again on a much tougher terrain.
Leading the Morpeth Harriers charge was Andrew Lawrence, who celebrated his birthday by coming all the way home from his London base for the occasion, and to finish a very respectable second from the Slow Pack.
One place behind Andrew was his new clubmate Ade Whitwam, who having won the previous Harrier League race at Blaydon, saw himself promoted to the Medium Pack and he emerged as fourth fastest.
Finishing just behind Whitwam in fourth spot was John Butters, who was Morpeth Harriers’ third counter.
Fourth and fifth counters were Ross Floyd and Matthew Nicholson, who finished 14th and 16th respectively from the Fast Pack and second and third fastest in the race.
Closing the winning team score was Michael Thomsen, who finished 54th from the Medium Pack, one place ahead of club colleague Fergus Bates, also Medium Pack.
For the second meeting in a row, Morpeth’s Nathan Cox emerged as the fastest U17.
Cox, who had been promoted to the Fast Pack following his Blaydon victory, was certainly not daunted by having to give 160 seconds to most of the 33-strong field of finishers, as he battled his way through deep mud to finish fourth, as he led his club to second team place on the day behind Blyth Running Club, with further excellent supporting runs coming from Elliot Kelly (10th) (Fast Pack) (fourth fastest), and Ryan Green (14th) (Fast Pack). The other U17 Men’s performer was Joe Elder, who ran well to finish 19th from the Slow Pack.
There was also an excellent result achieved by Morpeth in the combined U17/U20 Women’s race, where they finished third behind winners Durham City, with Alnwick Harriers in second place.
They were led home by Amber Cormack, who from her Slow Pack start finished in sixth place overall. Morpeth’s second counter was Louise Brett, normally more of a sprinter; who was certainly pleased by placing 20th overall from her Slow Pack start.
Completing the scoring three was Alison Brown, who ran well to finish 23rd from the Fast Pack, one place ahead of clubmate Charlotte Jewell, also Fast Pack. Beth Woolley finished 28th from the Slow Pack in this event.
Third team was also achieved by Morpeth’s team of hard-working U13 Boys.
They were led home by the diminutive Ross Charlton, who finished 15th from the Slow Pack. Further excellent team support came from Fast Pack runners Will Sibson (18th) and Alex Cunningham (21st). Other good Morpeth runs came from Cameron Dick (24th) (Fast Pack), and Joe Dowd (30th) (Fast Pack).
Morpeth Harriers’ Senior and Veteran Women, led by Lorna MacDonald (11th) (Slow Pack), finished as seventh in Division Two.
Further team support came from Emma Holt (23rd) (Fast Pack), who was third fastest in the event, and Kate Chapman (49th) (Slow Pack).
A very much weakened Morpeth Harriers U15 Boys’ team, who were minus Kieran Hedley (injured) and Jacob Hopkins (unavailable), managed to at least muster a scoring three who finished seventh in their event. They were led home by Adam Shewry, who produced an excellent run to finish sixth from the Slow Pack. Further support came from Lewis James, who finished 28th from the Slow Pack, and Alex Dunlop (34th) (Slow Pack).
Abby Sheldon was Morpeth’s lone U15 Girl, finishing 28th from the Fast Pack.
Morpeth Harriers had three runners in the U11s event for boys and girls.
Bobby Stone and Rhiannon Hedley finished virtually neck and neck in 11th and 12th places, with only a mere second dividing them at the finish line.
Stone was ninth boy finisher and Hedley was third in the girls race.
The other Morpeth Harrier competing was Leah Ayres, who finished 84th in a total field of 132 finishers. She was also 39th Girl.
Harrier League action continues tomorrow (Saturday), when the third meeting takes place for the first time at Wallington Hall, Northumberland.
It also sees Morpeth Harriers playing host to the league in its present form for the first time and the club is looking forward to the opportunity of making the day a success.
Action begins at 12.15pm and the final showpiece – the three-lap race for Senior and Veteran Men, should get underway at 2.15pm.
Parking is £2, which includes entrance to the Hall’s facilities and grounds.