MORPETH Harriers were clearly a dominant club force at the 31st running of the annual Blaydon Race, writes George Patterson.
The club had 12 runners inside the first hundred out of the 4,000 finishers at the Start Fitness 5.9-mile event last Thursday, which started in Newcastle.
Nick Swinburn clearly meant business early on as he headed the field by 20 metres at the one mile point and extended it to 40 metres towards the two mile point.
But he was swallowed up by a chasing pack which included 2009 winner Ian Hudspith of Morpeth Harriers, Ryan McLeod of Tipton Harriers – son of the very first winner Mick – and athletes from Kenyan and Ethiopia.
As the leaders headed over the flyover that overlooked the finish area at Blaydon Shopping Precinct, McLeod was still slightly in front and had every reason to believe that the Men’s title was within his grasp.
However, that reality was soon snatched away from him as he was passed by the eventual winner Edwin Kipkorir, of Birchfield and Kenya, second-placed Tewodros Shiferaw of Ethiopia, and Victoria Park’s Edwin Kiptoo, also of Ethiopia, in third.
McLeod managed to cling on to fourth place, just nine seconds ahead of Hudspith who can feel well pleased to finish as first from Morpeth Harriers, first from a North East club, and as first Veteran Man in a superb time of 28m37s – only a mere 12 seconds adrift of winner Kipkorir.
Morpeth comfortably won the team title as Lewis Timmins, Peter Newton and Nick Swinburn all had decent runs.
Timmins, in finishing ninth in 29m36s, was second home from the region, Newton in tenth place in 29m43s was third from the region, and early leader Swinburn did well to finish 11th in 30m07s as fourth North East athlete.
The performances of Michael Dawson (17th) 30m53s and Ross Floyd (19th) 31m05s, were also contributory to the overall club success.
In fact, their B team finished second. Gary Jones spearheaded this placing when finishing 38th in 32m39s.
He was supported well in this by Andrew Lawrence, somewhat recovered from his recent Marathon Bike Ride across America, who had a superb run to come home in 40th place in 32m51s.
Further good support came from Paul Waterston (47th and third O/45) 33m15s, George Hall (53rd and fifth O/45) 33m36s and Mark Davies (65th) 34m04s.
Gavin Bayne was the first Over 55 athlete and 86th overall in a time of 35m07s.
In 111th place came Morpeth Harriers’ Under 17 athlete Tom Brookes, whose excellent performance saw him clock 35m51s and he was second in the Young Lads section of the event.
Fifth in this section was his Morpeth clubmate Sam Hancox, who did well to finish in 206th place overall in a time of 38m19s.
In the Ladies race, which was won by Clapham’s North East-bred Justina Heslop for the third year in succession, Morpeth Harrier Jane Hodgson (formerly Mooney) had to be content with 11th place in a time of 35m58s. She was also fifth home from a North East club.
Another Morpeth Harriers finisher was Kate Chapman, who was 26th Lady and sixth O/35 female competitor in 39m25s.
Other Morpeth Harriers finishers are as follows: John Butters (136th) 36m25s, Daniel House (234th and 33rd O/40) 38m47s, Hamish McCallister-Williams (247th and 36th O/45) 38m57s, Gordon Dixon (271st and 12th O/50) 39m15s, Rob Hancox (283rd and 43rd O/45) 39m28s, Eric Hurrell (339th and 52nd O/40) 40m12s, and Mike Steven (398th and 23rd O/50) 40m55s.
l Saturday’s Northumberland Schools Track and Field Championships, held in cool showery conditions at Gateshead International Stadium, saw several athletes from Morpeth Harriers produce performances that saw them through to the forthcoming Inter Area match – the next step to racing in the English Schools Championships.
Top performer was undoubtedly East Northumberland sprinter Joe Robertshaw, who won the Intermediate Boys 400m in a brand new personal best time of 51.6s.
Another winner for East Northumberland was Hannah Rank, who took the Senior Girls 3000m title in 11m38.8s.
With winners and seconds automatically through to the Inter Area qualification match, other Morpeth Harriers scheduled to run following Saturday’s efforts are Philip Winkler, Ailsa McGregor, Jonnie Nisbet, and Joe Elder.
Winkler crowned what has been a tremendous spell of form by running close to his personal best when he finished second in the Junior Boys 800m in 2m11.3s.
McGregor clocked 2m30.9s when finishing second in the Senior Girls 800m.
After giving his club’s Young Athletes fixture a timely miss on the previous Sunday, Jonnie Nisbet bounced back to run an excellent 2m05.7s when finishing second in the Intermediate Boys 800m.
A superb personal best by six seconds gave Joe Elder his place at the Inter Area competition, when he finished second in the Junior Boys 1500m in a time of 4m38.4s.
Alison Brown will have to await a selectors decision to see if she will claim her place at the match after finishing third in the Junior Girls 1500m in 5m31.0s.
Fellow Morpeth Harrier Beth Woolley finished eighth in this event in a time of 6m10.3s.
The ever improving Molly McDonald produced an excellent new personal best of 2m37.3s when finishing fifth in the Junior Girls 800m, taking a whole seven seconds off her old figures.
Sarah Wilks finished tenth in this event, in a time of 2m45.3s.
l Morpeth Harrier Gavin Bayne completed a very busy, yet successful night of athletics activity at the third Veterans Athletics Association North East Track and Field meeting, held at Jarrow’s Monkton Stadium on Monday, June 6.
He won the Over 55 Mile in a time of 5m27.6s and also tested himself vigorously over the 200m and 400m distances, where he placed fifth in both events in respective times of 32.9s and 71.5s.
l Two Morpeth Harriers were in action at the BMC regional 1500m events held at Jarrow’s Monkton Stadium on Monday, June 6.
Fresh from Young Athletes competition at the same venue the previous day, Philip Winkler clearly excelled on his first taste at this level when he set a new personal best of 4m27.7s in finishing third in a mixed B race.
It was also pleasing to see Laura Weightman back in action after a minor leg operation and she can feel well pleased by a steady 4m17.5s, which saw her finish eighth as the only female in a fast A race.
l Running from lane one, Morpeth Harrier Nick McCormick was fractionally away from his personal best when clocking 1m48.68s for sixth place in the 800m B race at the talent filled BMC Grand Prix meeting held at Watford on Saturday night.
At the same meeting, club colleague Matt Nicholson can feel well pleased with his season’s best of 3m50.67s when finishing tenth in the 1500m D race, which was agonisingly just two seconds adrift of his lifetime best.
l Morpeth Harrier Phil Walker clocked a new personal best for the Newcastle 5k Park Run course on Saturday when he finished fourth in 16m38s.
Other Morpeth Harriers taking part were Graeme Leathard (23rd) 19m21s, Adam Sample (30th) 19m41s and Les Cavill (48th) 20m33s.
While visiting Hertfordshire, Kevin Bray of Morpeth Harriers took part in the Bushy Park event and finished 36th in a race won by fellow North Easterner Andrew Wiles of New Marske.
l Two Morpeth Harriers competed in Sunday’s Redcar Half Marathon.
Gary Jones ran a time of 75m50s when finishing in eighth place. Jane Blackett also made the journey to Cleveland and finished in a time of 126m37s.
She was 868th overall, 191st female finisher and 30th in the Over 45 Veteran Lady category.
MORPETH Harriers have now announced their Benfield Motors (Morpeth) Athlete of the Month award for April 2011.
After making some great strides over the winter months as an Under 17, which ultimately led to some excellent performances during the month of March including both the English Schools Cross Country Championships and the North Eastern Harrier League, Ailsa McGregor further progressed both on the road and on the track during April and brought some success both to her club and herself in the process.
This all culminated in an excellent performance in the 1500m at the first North Eastern Athletics League meeting held at Jarrow on April 27 when she created new figures of 4m58.5s.
Her previous best at this distance during 2010 was 5m13.4s, which is a very clear measure of her outstanding form and all round improvement.