Despite icy cold conditions, around 41 brave young athletes from Morpeth Harriers battled their way round Temple Park, South Shields, last Tuesday, when competing in the 2018 renewal of the Northumberland Schools Cross Country Championships.
Most of them were representing East Northumberland, with some lining up for North Northumberland, Tynedale and Newcastle Schools.
The club provided seven medallists on the day, plus they will have no less than 27 athletes going through to compete at the forthcoming Northern Inter Counties Schools Competition on Saturday, February 3, at Barnard Castle.
Rory Leonard (Senior Boys) and Holly Peck (Intermediate Girls), representing East Northumberland, both secured well-earned gold medals, being the major highlights of the club’s athletes’ performances.
Leonard won with just over a minute to spare over his more senior club colleague Kieran Hedley (Newcastle), with another fellow Morpeth Harrier Taylor Glover (East) coming home in third place to secure a bronze medal and a superb one, two, three of medals for the club.
Not far behind Glover, and having a superb run of his own, was club colleague Matthew Waterfield (East), who finished fifth.
Peck, who is certainly maintaining an excellent run of form, won the Intermediate Girls event, and a much-prized gold medal, with 49 seconds to spare over Tynedale’s Susannah Fielding, who just outpaced area colleague Hannah Tumla, for the silver medal.
It was also Peck’s fourth successive Northumberland Schools cross country victory, having previously won the Minor Girls, Junior Girls (twice), and this Intermediate Girls Championship.
Finishing fourth just outside the medals was Morpeth Harrier Lily Heaton, who is certainly showing a welcome return to form.
She will also join Peck in Northumberland’s Inter Counties squad, along with Kirsty Duffin (East), who finished 14th.
The Intermediate Boys event saw the club provide another two on-the-day medallists in Ross Charlton (East) and Daniel Melling (Newcastle), who respectively secured silver and bronze medals.
Charlton and Melling will also be joined at the forthcoming Inter Counties competition by Daniel Dixon (East), who is just in the early stages of a competitive comeback following illness over Christmas.
Dixon finished fourth, and they will also be joined by two other Morpeth Harriers in the shape of Tom Balsdon (East) (8th) and Brad Brown (East), who ran well to finish 15th.
No fewer than five Morpeth Harriers qualified from the Junior Boys event, including Euan Duffin (East), who won himself a well-earned silver medal, just missing out on the gold by 16 seconds to Newcastle’s Ethan McGlen, who runs for Gateshead Harriers.
An excellent run saw Morpeth Harrier Gracie Hufton (East) finish just outside the medals, when finishing a well-earned fourth in the Senior Girls event.
Club colleague Kay Errington (Newcastle) will also be joining her in the Inter Counties competition after finishing 11th.
A trio of Morpeth Harriers progressed to the Inter Counties following excellent respective runs in the Minor Boys event.
Bertie Marr (North) finished seventh, and not far ahead of Joseph Hudspith (Newcastle) (9th), and Ryan Davies (East) (10th).
Morpeth had six athletes in action in the Junior Girls event. They were led home by Rhiannon Hedley (North), who finished 12th, and will line up in the Inter Counties.
Meanwhile, five athletes from Morpeth Harriers were in competitive action at the third Indoor Standards Meeting, held at Gateshead College.
U17 Man Sam Yates achieved the second fastest time for his age group in his first round 60m sprint, clocking a new personal best of 7.96s.
In his second-round run, Yates achieved even better by finishing a very close second, improving to 7.90s.
As expected, Amy Lott, of Morpeth, proved more than a match for her opposition in the 60m hurdles, making a modest improvement to her personal best with her clocking of 9.53s.
Her opposition included club colleague Alice Geoghegan, who also set new figures of 10.90s, as she finished as third fastest in the age group.
Both Lott and Geoghegan also competed in the flat 60m, where the former was fourth fastest with 8.65s, and the latter was ninth equal fastest with 8.85s.
Morpeth’s U13 Girl Olivia Gent also competed in both the 60m hurdles and flat 60m events, finishing fifth in the former in 13.20s, and 15th in the latter with 9.81s.
Ethan Stephenson was a double winner on the night, clearing 1.70m in the high jump, and produced 11.98m in the triple jump.
Finally, the heavy snowfall that hit the region put paid to the bulk of the area’s parkruns on Saturday, with the only exception being Newbiggin by the Sea, which surprisingly escaped the worst and managed to put on an event which attracted a total of 235 hardy finishers, who were led home by Morpeth Harrier Mark Snowball, posting a new best for the 5k circuit, of 17m51s.
Snowball finished four seconds ahead of Blyth Running Club’s Joe Wren, with Morpeth youngster Tom Balsdon, who had won the event the previous week, finishing third, also producing new figures of 18m11s.
Five seconds behind Tom in fourth place was club colleague Liam Marsh.