Scott Beattie’s sixth place was the highlight for Morpeth Harriers at Saturday’s English Schools Cross Country Championships, held at Witton Park, Blackburn, writes George Patterson.
Beattie’s excellent run in the Intermediate Boys’ race has earned him a place in the English Schools team for the Home Countries International match in Dublin next weekend.
Next home for Northumberland in the Intermediate Boys’ team was Kieran Hedley in 46th place, a good performance by an athlete with another year in the age group, and, with Adam Shewry 263rd and Jacob Hopkins 299th, Morpeth had four of the six Northumberland counters in this age group, the team finishing 28th.
Best Morpeth performance in the Senior Boys’ race was Elliot Kelly in 63rd place who, as he attends Gateshead College, was representing Durham Schools. However, the club still featured strongly in the Northumberland team which finished 20th, with James Young 165th, Adam Gibbs 189th and Phil Winkler 198th.
Taylor Glover in 35th place led home the Junior Boys’ team, with Joe Dowd (246th) also counting towards the county’s 31st place, while young Ross Charlton in 260th will have benefited from the experience.
Best of the Northumberland teams were the Senior Girls, who placed 10th of the 44 competing counties. The team featured four Morpeth girls. Charlotte Jewell was the highest placed of these, finishing 118th, while Alison Brown fully justified her late inclusion in the team by placing 165th as sixth counter for the team.
Emma James, recovering from illness, ran a solid race to finish 182nd and Louise Brett responded well to a last-minute call-up into the team to place 280th.
Abby Sheldon was the club’s only representative in the Intermediate Girls’ team and she battled bravely against the effects of a recent injury to come home in 305th place.
Morpeth Harrier Ady Whitwam was crowned the new M35 Champion, courtesy of a superb performance at the British Masters Cross Country Championships, held in Ruthin, Wales, on Saturday.
He won with 10 seconds to spare over Leicester Coritanians Mark Powell in a time of 28m58s, with former winner Phil Hinch of Tipton Harriers, a further six seconds adrift in third place.
Catterick based Whitwam has maintained excellent form since being part of his clubs Northern Championship success, and seeks to be an integral part of their Spring Relay challenges in the forthcoming weeks.
Morpeth Harrier Lewis Timmins’ selection to run for the North of England at Saturday’s Home International held in Antrim in Ireland, certainly proved to be well deserved, when he finished 15th out of 43 finishers in the Senior Men’s event in a time of 34m21s, which proved to be almost three minutes adrift of race winner Thomas Ayeko of Uganda.
He was also second counter for the north of England, who finished third in the event behind winners England, with second place going to the south of England.
Dry but very cold conditions awaited athletes taking part in the final Start Fitness-sponsored North Eastern Harriers League meeting, held at Cardinal Hume School, Wrekenton, Gateshead.
Some of the younger age group events had reduced fields, due to some athletes competing for Northumberland and Durham at the English Schools Cross Country Championships, which were being held at Witton Park, Blackburn, some of them leading performers from the ranks of Morpeth Harriers.
However, the Senior events still attracted large fields and, in the Men’s race, Morpeth Harriers signed off the season with a very tasty team victory, which sees them finish in a very respectable second place in Division One, behind runaway winners Tyne Bridge, who finished second, only seven points adrift, which confirmed them as League Champions.
Morpeth Harriers were led home by Karl Taylor, who had dusted himself down following an early morning Park Run at Druridge Bay, where he had won by a fair margin, posting a time of 16m25s, which was 10 seconds adrift of his personal best on the 5k course.
Taylor certainly found the Wrekenton course to his liking also, as he hurtled his way round the three laps to finish in 31m48s, from his medium-pack start, which made him sixth fastest on the day.
The added fact that Morpeth Harriers Senior Men also saw their required six counters, including Taylor, all finish in the top 100 of the 502-strong field, confirmed their superiority.
Also having a good run was Mick Thomsen, who finished as the club’s second counter in seventh place from the slow pack.
Third finisher from the club was Tony Lewis, who finished in 12th place from the slow pack.
Running from the fast pack, and clearly the best Morpeth Senior Men’s performer, was Robert Balmbra, who finished 21st overall, clocking the fourth fastest overall time of the day.
Another good Morpeth performer from the fast pack was Chris Smith, who finished 29th.
Completing Morpeth Harriers winning count was Steve Haswell, who finished 91st from the slow pack.
Other Senior Men in action from the club were Sam Hancox (119th, fast pack), Rob Hancox (129th, medium pack), Peter Scaife (248th, slow pack), Paul Bellingham (404th, slow pack), and Joe Davison (430th, slow pack).
Morpeth Harrier Holly Peck signed off her truly excellent Cross Country season well, by finishing third from the fast pack in the U13 Girls event, where she clocked easily the fastest time, and also confirmed her win in the age group Grand Prix.
The club’ s other performer in this event Jewels Simpson finished 33rd from the slow pack.
Adam Weightman of Morpeth Harriers was a very clear winner in a very small field of 13 that took part in the U17 Men’s event.
He won with 40 seconds to spare over his closest rival, posting the fastest overall time from the fast pack.
Former Morpeth Harriers Commonwealth Games Marathon bronze medallist Mark Hudspith looked on very proudly as his son Andrew made a winning debut in the U13 Boys event.
Running from the slow pack, he posted a time of 9m54s, which saw him take victory by a margin of 22 seconds, and also saw him lead his club to an on the day second team placing behind Gateshead Harriers, with further support coming from Findlay Deakin (10th, slow pack) and Thomas Cunningham (26th, fast pack).
Morpeth Harriers’ other participants in this event were Daniel Melling and Sam Bradley, who finished 40th and 45th respectively from the fast pack.
Finishing an excellent second from the slow pack, Jamie Duguid led Morpeth Harriers U15 Boys home to second team place behind Tynedale Harriers, with further support coming from Matthew Waterfield (17th, fast pack), and Connor Marshall (26th, fast pack).
Other Morpeth Harriers performances in this event came from Alex Cunningham (28th, fast pack), Lewis James (29th, slow pack) and Josh Burton (32nd, fast pack).
Again it was Gracie Hufton flying a lone Morpeth Harriers flag in the U15 Girls’ event. She finished 29th from the fast pack.
Morpeth Harriers Senior Women who had prior to the final meeting been in line for possible promotion to Division One, unfortunately missed out by finishing a lowly 13th on the day, which put them in a final position of third, with South Shields and Alnwick Harriers ahead of them, both going up for next season.
On the day, Morpeth were led home by an excellent performer in Vicky Gibbs, who gained a bronze medal from the medium pack, posting the ninth fastest time overall.
Further team support came from Lesley Chapman (101st, slow pack), Carol Parry (177th, slow pack) and Sue Smith (219th, slow pack).
Morpeth Harriers’ only other Senior Women’s performer was Kate Chapman, whose medium pack start saw her finish 237th in field of 319 finishers.
In the U11s Try it Cross Country events, Morpeth Harriers had a total of eight athletes in action.
The Boys’ race saw Ben Walker finish in an excellent third spot and he was followed home by fellow club-mates Dylan Davies (sixth), James Tilley (18th), Callum Rowell (20th), Alex Porteous (30th), Aaron Haldane (38th) and Reece Garrett (42nd). Amy Lott finished 14th in the Girls’ event.
Next week’s athletics report will contain further information regarding individual Start Fitness North Eastern Harrier League Grand Prix performances by Morpeth Harriers, once they have been confirmed.
A top-class competitive field assembled for the annual Trafford 10k Road Race in Manchester, on Sunday, March 8, including Morpeth Harriers Andy Wiles and Robert Balmbra.
The event was won Reading’s Welsh International Jonathan Davies, who clocked a very impressive 29m18s when taking victory.
Wiles finished 30th in 30m41s and Balmbra finished 109th in a new personal-best time for the distance, clocking 33m52s.