Harriers retain title thanks to Lewis and co

MORPETH 11k Road Race winner Lewis Timmins continued his excellent 2011 form on Saturday, by cruising to a convincing victory in the Senior Men’s event, and led Morpeth Harriers to a successful retention of the title that they have held for the last three years, at the rearranged 2010 North Eastern Counties Cross Country Championships, held at Temple Park, South Shields, writes George Patterson.

Timmins was also adding individual gold success to the U17 Men’s title that he won at Darlington in 2003, when he was running for Gosforth Harriers.

History was also created by Morpeth Harriers on Saturday, when their Senior Ladies team took a Championship title for the very first time, being led home by a very much on fire Jane Mooney, who also managed to claim an individual bronze medal, adding to the silver that she won in 2009, at the expense of her own clubmate Morag Stead, whom she outsprinted in the finishing straight.

Timmins won with 42 seconds to spare over his closest rival, who just happened to be his Morpeth Harriers clubmate Peter Newton, who deservedly took the silver medal place after a thrilling battle with eventual bronze medallist Dan Garbutt of Durham City.

Newton stole away in the closing stages to create a 25 second window between him and his rival.

Ross Floyd of Morpeth Harriers also continued his impressive athletics career by finishing in 10th place, and just one place ahead of his team manager David Swinburne, who was also having his best race for some time.

With four counters inside the top 12, it was no wonder that Morpeth Harriers had hopes of retaining the Senior Men’s title for the fourth consecutive time and when veteran athlete Paul Waterston came home in 21st place, the chances became even higher.

A Morpeth Harriers Senior Men’s team win was very firmly confirmed when another club veteran Gordon Dixon came home in 57th place and gave them a 58 point marginal victory over Gateshead Harriers, with Sunderland Harriers well back in third place.

In addition to that, despite his many years with Morpeth Harriers, Dixon was also claiming his first ever Senior Championship medal.

Morpeth Harriers’ other senior man competing in the event was Ben Groves and he had a very good run to finish 108th, out of a total field of 231 finishers.

The superb performance by Morpeth Harriers’ Senior Women, led home by the aforementioned Jane Mooney and Morag Stead, with only one second dividing them, that saw them win the North East title for the very first time, was further confirmed by Carolyn Dickie.

She finished 10th in her first North East Championship since returning to the region and, added to that, Sarah Graham also produced a superb run to finish in 13th place.

With previous title holders Chester le Street unable to turn out a full squad, Morpeth Harriers won by eight points over their closest rivals Heaton Harriers, with Durham City a further 13 points adrift in third place.

Unfortunately on the day, Morpeth Harriers’ only medals came from the aforementioned Senior Men and Senior Women’s efforts, however, they did emerge as second-best club performers overall in the Championships behind Gateshead Harriers.

This was as a result of genuine efforts in some of the other age groups, especially the club’s U15 Girls, who just lost out for bronze team medals by one point.

They were led home by Alison Brown, who gave a very valiant fight in finishing in 10th place.

Further team support came from Jessica Morrison, Sarah Wilkes, and Beth Wooley, who finished in 14th, 20th and 21st places respectively. Unfortunately, an injury to Molly McDonald ruled her out of the Championship, and possible medals.

Morpeth Harriers only other team result came in the U13 Boys, who finished seventh of 10 competing squads.

They were led home by Ryan Green, who finished 18th, with further supporting runs coming from Andrew Allan (22nd), Euan Jones (33rd), and Jacob Hopkins (40th).

Morpeth Harriers U17 Men were blighted by ill-luck when Philip Caldwell picked up an injury in his warm-up, which left them with only Jonnie Nisbet and Sam Hancox being able to run.

2009 U15 Boys’ Champion Nisbet, did his level best to do battle with mainly older boys in his first year run at U17 level and can feel well pleased with his efforts in placing seventh against strong opposition.

Sam Hancox finished in 25th place.

Another blow for Morpeth Harriers came in the U15 Boys’ race, where 2009 U13 Boys’ silver medallist Philip Winkler pulled up injured during the event, which rendered him unable to continue.

Joe Elder and Henrik Paulsen finished 36th and 40th respectively for Morpeth Harriers in this event.

Snowy conditions certainly did not suit Morpeth Harrier Nick McCormick, when he finished a disappointing 14th, and nearly a minute down on the winner of the Men’s 4k event, at the annual Great Edinburgh Cross Country, held at Edinburgh’s Holyrood Park on Saturday.

He was also seventh home for Great Britain.

Running in the first year of her age group, Morpeth Harrier Kirsty Lang gave a good performance at the second day of the North Eastern Indoor Track and Field Championships on Sunday, when she finished fourth in her heat in the U15 Girls’ 60m in 9.33s and then went on to finish fourth in the B Final, and improved her personal time to 9.28s, which made her 10th best performer overall, in very experienced company.

Morpeth Harriers were at last able to present the award for the Benfield Motors Athlete of the Month for November 2010 at their clubhouse at Mitford Road on Monday Night.

The award went to U15 Girl athlete Molly McDonald for some improved performances, that were highlighted by her effort at the Heaton Road Races, where after taking a hefty tumble on some ice, she picked herself up to continue, and achieved a position that enabled the club and her illustrious team-mates to pick up awards for first U15 Girls team.

Molly is pictured receiving her certificate from Morpeth Harriers club chairman Bill Woods, and her name now goes into the melting pot alongside fellow club colleagues Joe Robertshaw, Patrick Booth, Jonnie Nisbet, and Alison Brown, for the possibility of a more prestigious award later this year.

In addition Molly has also recently received an award for being the most improved club athlete during 2010.