Downpour fails to halt strong juniors

A TORRENTIAL downpour which prevailed throughout the first in the series of Start Fitness North Eastern Athletics fixtures, held at Monkton Stadium, Jarrow, on Wednesday, April 25, certainly dented the early season Track and Field aspirations for a great number of athletes, writes George Patterson.

It also forced organisers to cancel the programmed hurdle and steeplechase events, and a great deal of field events, which resulted in only the long jump managing to escape the force of the elements on the field.

Despite the poor conditions, there were at least five new personal bests achieved by athletes from Morpeth Harriers, three of them coming from the track.

One event that did survive thankfully, was the newly arranged North Eastern Counties 10,000metres Championship, which preceded the League programme, instead of being incorporated into the Main Championship, being held at Gateshead Stadium in two weeks’ time.

Five athletes toed the start line for this event, and they were led home by the pre-race favourite Peter Newton of Morpeth Harriers, whose last experience at the distance on the track had seen him take the Northern Championship last summer.

Newton successfully managed to lap the whole field twice within the 25-lap affair, and came home to a resounding victory in 30m27.3s, with his Morpeth Harriers clubmate Michael Dawson claiming the silver medal in 33m00.9s.

Third place and bronze medal went to Heaton Harrier’s Ian Robinson, who clocked 34m49.4s.

The other two competitors – Rob Hand (Durham City) and David Moir (Tyne Bridge) – clocked 35m50.8s, and 35m56s respectively, and it was quite remarkable that all five had managed to get under 36 minutes considering the conditions that prevailed, with wind adding a slight extra hazard.

On to the League programme, and Ryan Green of Morpeth Harriers added another season’s personal best to his tally in the U15 Boys 1500m, which he won in 4m31.8s.

Not far behind him in third place was club colleague Jared Lewis, who was slightly outside his personal best with 4m41.8s.

Having his first race on the track as an U15 Boy, Morpeth’s Jacob Hopkins ran well to finish fifth in 4m51.3s, again a personal best.

Also having his first race as an U15 Boy was Sam Williams, who did well to finish eleventh in 5m47.01s.

In the U13 Boys’ 1500m, Kieren Hedley finished second in 5m10.4s.

Fellow Morpeth Harriers Matthew Ingledew and Robbie Elder finished eighth and ninth respectively in 6m39s, and 6m42.6s.

The U13 Boys’ 100m saw victory come the way of Mitchell Green of Morpeth Harriers in 14.4s.

Another 100m victory on the night was achieved by Morpeth Harriers U15 Boy Alex Nesbitt, who clocked a new personal best of 12.3s. Nesbitt also went on to achieve a new personal best in a difficult long jump because of the conditions, with a best of 4.74m.

Another long jump personal best was achieved by Nesbitt’s Morpeth club colleague Ria Fairnington who managed 4.37m.

Jonny Nisbet was fourth U20 Man in the 1500m, where he clocked 4m19.1s.

Morpeth’s Joe Elder was sixth fastest U17 Man in his 1500m, in 5m05.1s.

In the U17 Womens’ 1500m, Beth Woolley was second in 5m41.6s.

Her Morpeth Harriers clubmate and training partner Alice Kelly was second in the U17 Womens’ 300m in 51.1s.

l SATURDAY, March 31, proved to provide Craig Dixon of Ashington with the experience of a lifetime.

Twenty-year-old Morpeth Harrier Craig was chosen in a prize draw, initiated by the National Lottery, to take part in a run around the Olympic Park in Stratford, East London.

After passing the host of iconic stadia, including the Basketball Arena, the Cycling Velodrome, the Riverbank Arena, The Copper Box, and the Aquatics Centre, he experienced the big finale, the Olympic Stadium itself.

In the event, he rubbed shoulders with the likes of Nell McAndrew, (who ended up as the first woman to cross the finish line), Fatima Whitbread, Roger Black, Mel C, and Sally Gunnell, plus HRH Princess Beatrice, (who Craig managed to pass during the run).

Holly Willoughby and Iwan Thomas hosted the event, with acts such as Escala and Flawless providing the pre-race entertainment.

On to Craig’s run itself, which was around five miles.

He managed to complete the run in 40m55s, which he was quite proud of, considering that he had only been running for just over a year, and the event clearly showed him that the area surrounding the venues has got the Olympic buzz, and this was months before the event fully gets underway.

Craig describes having butterflies in his stomach as he passed each stunning arena, and felt he just had to take a moment’s pause to take it all in.

A young lad from Loughborough was the first person to cross the finish line in the Olympic Stadium, a moment he would hopefully remember for the rest of his days.

Craig eventually entered the arena to the cheers of thousands spectating in the stadium, and felt fully encouraged to do some showboating, as you do, trying to encourage the crowd to scream louder, and at the end on the run-in he himself felt fully encouraged to do a customary Usain Bolt-esque sprint finish.

He also felt encouraged to mimic the Jamaican champion by executing a life-like salute, and donned his Morpeth Harriers vest for the momentous occasion.

Craig also received a commemorative medal to mark the event, along with a goody bag, with numerous treats.

Truly an experience to be treasured and remembered.

l ANTICIPATED fast times were hampered at the Gateshead Harriers Open Medal meeting, held at Gateshead International Stadium on Sunday.

However, several athletes from Morpeth Harriers managed to achieve some winning successes, and despite the rain-swept conditions, some personal bests were gained.

Most notable among the Morpeth Harriers’ performances came from U15 Boy Ryan Green, who achieved his third victory in succession in the new track season, when he won the 800m in fine style from Gateshead Harriers U13 Boys’ Inter-Counties Cross Country Champion Markhim Lonsdale, who was running his first event as a first-year U15.

Green certainly firmly put his older stamp on the event, as he won with a second to spare over the competitive Lonsdale, in a time of 2m08.55s, which was agonisingly just two seconds outside his personal best, set at Shildon seven days before.

Nevertheless, Green can take much satisfaction from the fact that after three events in less than ideal conditions, he remains unbeaten, and he can look forward to his club’s first Young Athletes League encounter, at Whitley Bay this weekend, with eager anticipation.

He has also set his stall out for perhaps his biggest challenge in two weeks’ time, a medal in the North East Counties Track and Field Championships, and he has certainly laid down a tough gauntlet for all potential opponents to follow.

It was also a good day for another of his Morpeth Harriers colleagues, and training partner, Kieran Hedley, who produced a personal best of 2m33.23s, when claiming his first track victory in the U13 Boys’ 800m. He won with a good 10 seconds to spare over his namesake Kieran Pinkney of Chester-le-Street.

Ryan Green’s younger brother Mitchell also gained a new personal best of 14.15s, when placing third in the U13 Boys’ 100m.

Alex Nesbitt of Morpeth Harriers finished third in both the U15 Boys’ 100m and 200m with respective clockings of 12.61s, and 25.82s.

A superb new personal best of 4.46m was achieved by Morpeth’s Ria Fairnington in the U15 Girls’ long jump.

She also claimed another victory in the high jump, with her best clearance of 1.30m.

In the Senior Field events, Morpeth’s Craig Pickup cut a lonely figure as he won the javelin with his best throw of 31.54m, which was a personal best for him, and he took second place in the shot with a best of 7.97m.