Harriers quartet turn in top times

FOUR Morpeth Harriers finished prominently in respective top-class events at the weekend, writes George Patterson.

Jonny Taylor finished second to fellow Great Britain European Cross-Country representative Tom Farrell, of Border Harriers, in Sunday’s prestigious Alsager 5 Road Race in Staffordshire.

While Farrell, currently home from his University base in Oklahoma, won comfortably in 24m06s, Taylor can feel quite pleased that his efforts brought him a new personal best for the five-mile distance of 24m33s.

Following his excellent performance at last week’s Northern Athletics Cross Country at Knowsley, Nick Swinburn continued his superb run of form on a different terrain, when he finished a close fifth in a top-class field at the Dewsbury 10k Road Race in Yorkshire.

Although he was outside his personal best with his clocking of 30m43s, he was always in very close company with the leaders that included Northern and North East Cross-Country champion Dan Garbutt, who, on this occasion, had to settle for second place behind Altrincham import Mohammed Abu-Rezeq, albeit by one second.

Third and fourth places went to Holmfirth’s Mark Buckingham and Leeds City’s Tesfaye Debele, who were both given the same finishing time of 30m25s.

In Japan, Morpeth Harrier Serod Batochir completed his second marathon in six weeks, when he finished fourth in the 63rd Beppu-Oita Mainichi event.

He clocked 2hrs 10mins 59secs, which was around two minutes adrift of his personal best; however, he only missed out on a podium spot by 23 seconds.

The event was won by Uganda’s Abraham Kilimo in 2hrs 9mins 23secs.

Meanwhile, back on home soil, albeit mud, Morpeth Harrier Bob Marshall was easily the best athlete on show in his Over 65 age group, when he won his category with ease by all of three minutes at the Scottish Masters Cross Country Championships, held at Hawick on Saturday.

His time of 30m23s also beat the first Over 60 competitor by three seconds.

ATHLETES, including some from Morpeth Harriers, competed in the annual Northern Inter Counties Schools Cross Country Championships, held at Meadowfield Leisure Centre, near Durham on Saturday.

The competition which saw entrants from Northumberland, Durham, Cleveland, North Yorkshire, and Cumbria taking part, served also as a final hurdle for those wishing to gain qualification in the Senior, Intermediate and Junior age groups for the English Schools Championships, scheduled to be held at Castle Donnington in Leicestershire on Saturday, March 15.

Unfortunately, a strong, cold prevailing wind severely hindered athletes during the action, resulting in some disappointments.

Notable Morpeth Harriers performers were Alison Brown (Senior Girls), Charlotte Jewell (Intermediate Girls) and Kieran Hedley (Junior Boys).

Alison was second home for Northumberland in the Senior Girls’ event, by virtue of finishing sixth overall, one place and 18 seconds behind her team-mate Robyn Waugh.

In the Intermediate Girls event, Charlotte finished 13th and was third home for Northumberland.

Kieran was first home for Northumberland in the Junior Boys’ event, when he finished seventh overall.

As a result of these positive performances, Brown, Jewell, and Hedley, should all qualify for the English Schools Championships.

Morpeth Harrier Elliot Kelly can count himself a little unfortunate that he is now unable to represent Northumberland.

He finished a well-earned 12th in a hotly-contested Senior Boys’ event that was dominated by Durham Schools athletes.

Kelly is now being educated at Gateshead College, so is now having to compete for Durham and, although he finished in a prominent position, he had eight others from his new county in front of him. Had he still been competing for Northumberland, he would easily have made selection.

Another Morpeth Harrier competing in the Senior Boys’ event was Phillip Winkler, whose individual placing is still to be fully confirmed, however, he may well have done enough to warrant selection for Northumberland at the English Schools.

This also may apply to Nathan Cox, Ryan Green and Adam Weightman, who were all forced to sit out the Schools Inter Counties through respective injuries.

In addition to the aforementioned Kieran Hedley, Morpeth’s Joe Dowd may make the Junior Boys’ team.

Both Dowd and fellow clubmate Adam Shewry competed at Meadowfield, although their confirmed results are not known at time of going to press.

Other Morpeth Harriers who competed at Meadowfield with results still unconfirmed were: Jarod Lewis and Jacob Hopkins (Intermediate Boys), Daniel Dixon and Ross Charlton (Minor Boys), Beth Woolley and Alice Kelly (Senior Girls), Amber Cormack, Abby Sheldon, and Louise Brett (Intermediate Girls), and Kate Seymour and Lizzie Rank (Junior Girls).

It is hoped that these results will be fully confirmed at some future date.

COFTON Park, Birmingham, once again hosts the annual UK Inter Counties Cross Country Championships, which take place on Saturday, March 8.

As usual North Eastern Counties hope to be well represented, none more so than in their Senior Men, who triumphed ahead all other challengers in the 2013 contest.

The region’s selectors have now made their team choices and in the aforementioned age group, Morpeth Harriers have no less than six athletes lined up in their first-choice selections and two are among the stand-by reserves.

Following on from his excellent run in the Northern Championships, where he placed fourth, Nick Swinburn has won selection.

He lines up alongside his club colleagues Jonny Taylor, who won selection following his excellent performance in Seville, Spain, Matt Nicholson, Peter Newton and Lewis Timmins, who were all prominent North Eastern and Northern finishers, plus Richard Morrell.

On standby as reserves are Ross Floyd and, for the very first time, Andrew Lawrence, who produced an excellent performance in the Northern Championships, to be Morpeth Harriers sixth and final counter in their silver medal winning squad.

Also winning a first-time call-up is Sam Hancox, who has been chosen for the Junior Men’s squad.

North Eastern Counties Champion Nathan Cox and Elliot Kelly are included in the U17 Men’s squad and Adam Weightman, and Phil Winkler are on standby as reserves.

Although he missed the Northern Championships with illness, Joe Dowd has won the hearts of selectors for his fourth place in the U13 Boys’ North Eastern Championship. Alongside him in the squad is his Morpeth Harriers club colleague Will Sibson.

Both of these athletes will experience Inter Counties duties for the first time.

Two Morpeth Harriers are included as first-choice athletes in the Women’s events.

The Senior team sees Emma Holt in the North Eastern line-up.

Alison Brown has been selected to run in the U17 Women’s contest. Charlotte Jewell has been selected as one of the standby reserves for this event.

ASHLEY Gibson of Morpeth Harriers, now residing in the South of England was the first female home in Sunday’s Ashford 10k.

Making her debut over the distance, she finished eighth overall in a field of 600 runners, in an excellent time of 34m40s.