Morpeth Harriers were in action at the 38th running of the Blaydon Races, when over 8,500 athletes competed.
Unlike last year’s race, brought forward to a rather sticky Saturday afternoon because of Ed Sheeran’s later appearance at St. James’ Park, there were no competing events to factor in this year, and the race started at the very civilised time of 7.15 pm when the day had mostly cooled off, although runners did report bright sun on the Scotswood Road.
Largely following the same route laid out in Geordie Ridley’s celebrated anthem of 1862, runners again assembled in Grey Street before being moved down to gather on Collingwood Street outside the Cathedral, then followed the route past the Centre for Life and on to Scotswood Road and over the Chain Bridge. A slightly different finish this year – outside Morrisons in Blaydon – meant the race was a touch shorter, some 5.4 miles in total, than in previous years.
A leading group of some fifteen runners quickly established itself with Morpeth Harriers Carl Avery, second last year, and a returning Nick Swinburn prominent, along with Graham Rush of Leeds City, Dom Shaw of New Marske and Charlie Hulse of Liverpool. With the group slowly whittling itself down as the pace cranked up, in the end it was a straight fight between Avery and Rush, with the Leeds man winning out in the end by a margin of no more than twenty metres. Rush was credited with 25 minutes 33 seconds and Avery had once again to settle for second in 25m 37s, with Hulse in third (25m 45s).
Leading Morpeth finishers thereafter were Nick Swinburn, 5th in 26m 17s, Sam Hancox, 11th in 27m 2s, Tom Straughan, 14th in 27m 37s, John Butters, 19th and 3rd Over 40 male in 28m 8s and Adam Pratt, 24th in 28m 15s.
Other notable achievements were Dan Melling, 30th overall in his first Blaydon, who achieved the distinction of being 1st Under 19 in 28m 31s, and Lee Bennett, 44th but 1st Over 50 in 29m 20s.
With team prizes not presented on the night, Morpeth look to have won both the Senior Men’s and the Veteran Men’s titles.