Ian eases home to claim Park crown

IN his first outing since a comprehensive New Year’s Day victory in his club’s annual Road Race, Morpeth Harrier Ian Harding managed an easy win in the Newcastle Park Run at Exhibition Park on Saturday.

Clocking 15m24s for the 5k circuit, although he was a good 14 seconds outside his best for the course, he still managed to come home 67 seconds clear of his closest rival.

Fellow Morpeth Harrier Thomas Straughan was second home from the club in ninth spot and agonisingly just four seconds adrift of his best with his time of 17m40s.

By contrast, John Butters managed a new personal best of 18m12s for the course when finishing 15th.

Finally, Marie Drosdowicz came home as ninth lady in 92nd place in 21m52s.

l FOLLOWING last weekend’s North of England Cross Country Championships at Pontefract, the North Eastern Cross Country selectors have had final discussions concerning the region’s squads to compete in the forthcoming UK Inter Counties Championships, at Cofton Park, Birmingham on Saturday, March 10.

The following Morpeth Harriers have been included in their final selections.

Senior Men: Matt Nicholson, Lewis Timmins, and Jonny Taylor. Under 17 Men: Jonnie Nisbet. Under 15 Boys: Philip Winkler and Elliot Kelly. Under 13 Boys: Jacob Hopkins and Kieran Hedley. Senior Women: Jane Hodgson. Under 20 Women: Ailsa McGregor and Hannah Rank

The following are currently selected as non travelling reserves: Peter Newton and Ross Floyd (Senior Men), Emma Pearson (Senior Women), and Alison Brown (Under 15 Girls).

l MONGOLIAN International Serod Batochir of Morpeth Harriers set brand new figures and a new club record when he finished second to Kenyan Harun Njoroge in Sunday’s Beppu-Oita Marathon in Japan.

Batochir’s 2hrs11m05s may have been no match for the rampant Njoroge, however, the new figures see an improvement of 30 seconds on his previous best, set in last year’s Flora London Marathon, for his second podium finish of the year in Japan.

It was also his fifth marathon in 10 months following the aforementioned London, the World Championships in Daegu, Bejing, and his recent victory in Hofu.

l THANKFULLY the threatened snowfall failed to live up to its full expectations, and organisers could breathe a sigh of relief as they managed to complete the eight event Northern Inter Counties Schools Cross Country Championships at Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria, before the worst conditions arrived.

That is not to say that the event went without its problems, as certain parts of the course were frozen and rutted and bordered on being dangerous to say the least – athletes were forced to be extra careful.

Nevertheless, the event went ahead as planned, and several athletes from Morpeth Harriers were among Northumberland Schools’ leading performers.

Ryan Green, who had won the area Championship at South Shields for Junior Boys, finished a good second to Cleveland’s Henry Johnson on this occasion, with only 19 seconds dividing the pair at the finish.

Fellow Morpeth Harriers Jacob Hopkins and Jared Lewis also competed well in this age group, when finishing in seventh and 15th places respectively, as fifth and seventh from the county.

In the Minor Boys, Morpeth Harrier Kieran Hedley led Northumberland home by placing third. Fourth counter home for the county was Philip Kirby, who finished 24th.

Jonnie Nisbet was another podium placed athlete, when finishing third and first for the county, behind Gateshead’s Barry Maskell in the Senior Boys’ event.

Phil Caldwell also ran well in this age group, to finish as fourth for Northumberland in 16th place overall.

One athlete not so lucky in the tricky conditions was Under 15 Boys’ North Eastern Champion Philip Winkler, who may well have prematurely ended his winter cross country campaign, when he took a heavy tumble when negotiating a rutted area, and may well have damaged ankle ligaments.

Thankfully a hospital examination afterwards revealed no break, however he did return home on crutches, and faces what is possibly a lengthy period of incapacity, which is likely to blight both his own, and his clubs immediate plans for success.

Winkler did, however, manage to hobble bravely to the finish line in order to complete as a very creditable second for Northumberland in eighth place overall.

Morpeth’s Elliot Kelly continued his excellent run of form, to come home in 19th place overall, as the county’s second counter.

Another Morpeth Harrier continuing an excellent run of form is Alison Brown, who has had a very tough season, and the Berwick based starlet certainly repaid her selectors, when finishing third for Northumberland, and 10th overall in the Intermediate Girls event.

Other Morpeth Harriers to feature in this event were Beth Wooley (31st; 8th North), Hannah Sheerin (41st; 11th North), Josie McReton (50th; 13th North), and Sarah Wilkes (53rd; 14th North).

In the Senior Girls’ event, Morpeth Harriers Ailsa McGregor and Hannah Rank finished 10th and 18th respectively, as third and fifth for Northumberland.

In the Minor Girls’ event, Morpeth’s Teegan Dryden finished 22nd, as fourth from the county. Chloe Robertson and Lizzie Rank finished 30th and 36th and were fifth and seventh from the county.

Finally, the Junior Girls’ event saw Morpeth Harriers Charlotte Jewell and Amber Cormack place 34th and 53rd as 11th and 14th for Northumberland.

At the time of going to press final team results are awaiting confirmation.

l NEWS from down under is that Morpeth Harrier Nick McCormick, currently on a training stint in Australia, finished an excellent third to Australian legend Collis Birmingham in a 5000m Open Track Race, at the Briggs Athletics Classic, in Hobart on February 4.

McCormick clocked a season’s best of 13m32.88, finishing six seconds ahead of fellow Brit, and current training partner Andy Vernon, of Aldershot and Farnham, who finished fifth.