It was certainly Morpeth Harriers’ younger age group performances which caught the eye among the club’s efforts at the annual Heaton Harriers Memorial Road Races, held on Newcastle’s Town Moor, on Sunday, writes George Patterson.
On a day when their Senior athletes’ efforts were small by comparison, the club’s younger participants managed to win no less than three team titles.
Scott Beattie U17 Men, and Rhiannon Hedley U11 Girls each produced excellent individual wins . There were fine minor placings achieved by several others on a day where good weather prevailed throughout the five-event programme.
The combined U17/U20 Men’s 5k event saw an excellent win achieved by Scott Beattie in the U17 Men’s section in a time of 16m34s.
Finishing behind Scott in this age group for Morpeth Harriers were James Young (fifth) 17m43s, Jacob Hopkins (sixth) 17m51s and Jack Armstrong (eighth) 18m13s.
Sam Hancox had an excellent run when placing third in the U20 Men’s event in 16m17s.
Also running for Morpeth Harriers in the U20 Men’s section were Elliot Kelly (fifth) 16m37s and Phil Caldwell (sixth) 18m55s
The combined efforts of Hancox, Beattie and Kelly saw Morpeth Harriers finish second to Gateshead Harriers in the team competition, only losing out by one point.
Morpeth Harrier Rhiannon Hedley, managed to win from Alnwick’s Lauren Brown by a margin of three seconds, posting a time of 3m38s in the U11 Girls’ 1k event.
Having her first outing in a Morpeth vest, Ailidh Dick finished 10th in 4m06s.
Morpeth Harriers also saw some excellent performances being produced by their U11 Boy athletes.
Bobby Stone continued his superb progress in this age group when finishing second, only losing out by seven seconds to Chester-le-Street’s Chris Perkins, when clocking 3m29s for the 1k distance.
Fellow Morpeth Harriers Callum Rowell and James Tilley finished in seventh and ninth positions respectively, posting times of 3m47s and 4m03s.
Morpeth Harriers produced an excellent team victory in the combined U17/U20 Women’s 5k event.
Running her very first event in a Morpeth vest following her transfer from Blyth, Emma James had a superb run to finish second in the U17 section in 19m49s, and led the team home.
Excellent team support came from Alison Brown, who was a lone U20 Women’s competitor. She finished in 20m45s and the winning team count was completed by Abby Sheldon, who, despite recovering from a recent knee injury, finished in 22m27s and was third U17 Woman home.
Ross Charlton led a trio of Morpeth Harriers U13 Boys home, who all produced excellent individual efforts to produce a superb team win.
Charlton, clocking an excellent 10m53s for the 3k distance, finished only three seconds adrift of Gateshead’s Henry Johnson in third place, and 17 seconds adrift of Blyth winner Josh Fiddaman.
Thomas Cunningham finished seventh in 11m19.0s and, on his competitive debut for the club, Daniel Melling finished ninth in 11m43s, in a total field of 24 runners to close his club’s scoring count.
Morpeth Harriers had an excellent turnout in the U15 Boys event run over a 3k course, which also brought them a team victory.
They were without leading light Kieran Hedley; however, Adam Shewry produced one of his best runs to finish third in 10m30s, only a second adrift of second place, and 27 seconds adrift of the winner.
Further good performances from Morpeth Harriers in this event came from Joe Dowd (fifth) 10m54s, Connor Marshall (sixth) 10m56s, Alex Cunningham (eighth) 11m02s, and Jamie Duguid (ninth) 11m07s.
Shewry, Dowd, and Marshall were the victorious, scoring three for the club.
Lizzie Rank of Morpeth just missed out on a podium place in the U15 Girls’ 3k event, when she finished fourth in 11m50s.
The Town Moor 10k, the event’s feature race, which was for Senior and Veteran Men and Women, attracted a new record field of 571 finishers on the redesigned course, who were led home by Elswick’s Ethiopian import Tadele Geremew, which included five from the ranks of Morpeth Harriers.
Geremew clocked a winning time of 30m55s, which was outside the course record.
First to cross the finish line from Morpeth Harriers was Jordan Scott, who finished 20th in 39m49s.
Next home from Morpeth was Paul Banks, who finished 89th and was 17th in the Over 40 Veteran Men’s section, posting a finishing time of 39m35s.
Peter Scaife was third home from the club, finishing 117th in 40m50s, and was ninth Over 50 Man.
Finishing 220th overall, Mark Crosby was the clubs fourth finisher.
Posting a finishing time of 43m49s, he was 15th Over 50 Man.
Morpeth Harriers’ sole female finisher Jill Sandeman was fifth home from the club, when she finished 361st overall in a time of 49m41s and seventh Over 40 Veteran Lady.
Thanks go to officials and helpers at Heaton Harriers for once again organising a splendid event.
Druridge Bay Park Run had another new first finisher on Saturday, when Morpeth Harrier Matthew Boyle clocked 17m57s in his very first run at the venue.
Not far behind him was his club colleague Rob Hancox, who finished second in18m08s.
Other prominent finishers from the club in the event were Andrew Richardson (seventh) 19m40s, Larry Clarke (17th) 21m39s and Scott Wilkes (20th), who set new figures on the course with his clocking of 22m35s.
While former Morpeth Harrier and current UK Performance Director Neil Black may have provoked new controversies last week, when announcing the sports 2015 World Class Funding Lists, he certainly delighted Commonwealth and European medallist Laura Weightman, by including her in the Olympic podium section, as a direct result of her summer track successes at 1500m.
Somewhat surprisingly, big names such as Andy Vernon, Goldie Sayers and Jo Pavey have all missed out, however, Weightman very much met with Black’s favour and can look forward to some very valued monetary assistance, as she prepares in the hope of further medal success in major championships over the next year or so.
In that light, Black defends his choice for funding, with the emphasis on medals and the potential to win medals, and Weightman, under the constant guidance of her coach and mentor Steve Cram, certainly fits the bill, especially after her double success in the summer and the Olympics in Rio in 2016 on the horizon.
Nevertheless, endless debate over Black’s ultimate choices, will no doubt rage on in athletic circles in forthcoming weeks. However, in Weightman’s case, the Morpeth Harrier can afford a much-deserved and definite smile.
Pre-race entry is now being accepted for the annual Morpeth Road Race, supported by Start Fitness, to be held on Thursday, January 1, 2015, at 1pm.
This is an early chance to run in Historic Northumberland on New Year’s Day and blow away a few Hogmanay cobwebs.
The course over an approximate distance of 11k, follows its traditional route, commencing on Mitford Road, out to Mitford, up to Mitford Steads, returning to Morpeth via the Whalton Road, past the Morpeth Golf Club, Sun Inn and into Carlisle Park, along the Promenade, finishing on the Stanners.
Pre-race entry is at a cost of £5 to club runners (no team fees), £7 for unattached runners, cheques payable to Morpeth Harriers & AC and to be sent to Kevin Bray, 3 Dene View Court, Pottery Bank, Morpeth, Northumberland, NE61 1SH (tel no 01670 505953).
All race numbers are to be collected on the day from race headquarters at Morpeth Rugby Club, at Grange House Field, Mitford Road, Morpeth, from 11.30am.
Changing facilities are available at Morpeth Harriers Clubhouse (next door to Rugby Club).
Late entries will also be accepted on the day, at a cost of £8 and £10 respectively and will still be eligible for prizes.
The prize list will be modified as required, so as to include more individual prizes, including various veteran categories, both male and female.
All entrants must be at least 17 on the day of the race; veteran athletes must state date of birth on entry.
For entry forms and late details of race-day conditions, see Morpeth Harriers website on www.morpethharriers.freeservers.com