Harriers line up against exalted company at Holyrood Park

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Nick Swinburn and Jonny Taylor of Morpeth Harriers were both included in the Great Britain squad who competed in the televised Senior Men’s 8k event at Saturday’s annual Great Winter Cross Country, held at Holyrood Park in Edinburgh.

Although the going was heavy, and there were flurries of sleet, there was no sign of the heavy snow that was being experienced further North.

Despite still suffering from a heavy cold that had been with him since his excellent run in Brussels slightly prior to Christmas, Swinburn could feel well pleased with his performance in finishing 12th of the 30 finishers, and also the final cog in Great Britain’s scoring six, who won a close team race by 11 points from a strong USA squad, who were led home by the race winner Garrett Heath, who managed to just outsprint double Olympic Champion Mo Farah to the line, to win by two seconds in 25m29s.

Farah himself was visibly delighted with the Great Britain team win, boosted by the added performances of long term leader Callum Hawkins (4th), Ross Millington (5th), Dewi Griffiths (6th), Andrew Butchart (7th), and Swinburn, who had always been in touch with the leaders until the final lap, and was only twenty two seconds adrift of a podium spot at the finish.

Taylor had also been up with the early pace, but seemed to fade after half way was reached, and ended up in seventeenth place, and just behind fellow Brit Jonathan Davies, making him eighth home for his country.

Two Morpeth Harriers competed in the earlier run 5k Road Race. Nathan Cox finished fourth, posting an excellent time of 16m52s.

Some 67 seconds and nine places behind him was fellow Morpeth Harrier Mark Snowball, who also could feel well pleased with his run.

The torrential rainstorms that hit the region after the New Year unfortunately forced the postponement of the fourth Start Fitness Harrier League meeting, scheduled to be held at Newcastle Town Moor on Sunday, January 10.

Although organisers had sought an alternative option at Wrekenton, Gateshead, those plans were also thwarted when that course was also found to be severely waterlogged.

It is now hoped to re-schedule the meeting for Saturday 13th February 2016, once again at the Newcastle Town Moor venue, hoping for better conditions.

With a blank weekend in the region on the Cross Country circuit several runners sought competition in the Saturday Morning Park Runs, and Morpeth Harriers had no less than four athletes as first finishers on the day.

In his first outing at Newcastle’s Exhibition Park, Kevin Calvert crossed the finish line of the 5k circuit in 15m50s.

Fifteen places and exactly three minutes behind him was fellow Morpeth Harrier Paul Banks.

Clocking five seconds faster than Calvert, Morpeth Harriers Under 20 athlete Joe Armstrong was easily first over the finish line at Albert Park in Middlesbrough.

Meanwhile, a few miles further south in York, Sarah Graham was first female over the finish line.In her first outing for several months, she clocked 20m25s.