Despite missing a number of their leading performers, Morpeth Senior Men still managed to pull off an excellent team victory for the second year in succession at the annual Royal Signals North Eastern Road Relay Championships at the weekend.
Held at Hetton Lyons Park, in Hetton-le-Hole, County Durham, it was an excellent red letter day for the club, as their Senior Women also pulled of a very hard fought victory in their 4 Stage contest, beating off reigning champions Birtley AC by a twenty six second margin.
The Senior Men’s contest comprising of six stages, each of a 2.2mile distance, saw the lead change no less than on four occasions, with Morpeth eventually taking victory over Gateshead Harriers, after surrendering a lead to them momentarily midway in the contest.
It was Durham City who took an early lead on leg one, courtesy of Dan Jenkin, easily their fastest performer, and eventually second fastest on the day.
On the first leg, Morpeth Harriers A team came home in fourth place, courtesy of Kevin Calvert’s 11m02s.
Second leg saw Morpeth grab the lead for the first time, thanks to Ross Floyd’s excellent 10m58s, only a mere seven seconds ahead of Gateshead, who were also gradually beginning to impose themselves on proceedings.
Meanwhile, Durham City had slipped back to third, and close to 30 seconds adrift of the leading two.
At this point Morpeth had Ian Hudspith in action for them, up against Marc Elliot of Gateshead.
Hudspith, at the tender age of 46, managed to pull further clear with his superb clocking of 10m47s, and at halfway Morpeth had now built up a 22 second lead over their closest rivals.
On the fourth leg for Morpeth was Karl Taylor, who after a superb autumn had gone through a very indifferent period fighting off niggling injuries.
Whilst Taylor managed to hold on to the lead throughout the majority of his leg, he was eventually passed on his second lap by Gateshead’s Chris Parr, who clocked the days fastest time of 10m40s, which saw him take his club into a 12 second lead, as Taylor got round in 11m16s.
This lead was quickly extinguished, however, by Morpeth’s Carl Avery on the fifth and penultimate lap, as he turned the deficit into a 34 second lead, courtesy of 10m43s, which was very easily the fastest of the leg.
This was definitely the catalyst for an outstanding victory for Morpeth Harriers, and final leg runner Lewis certainly wasted no time in firming up a last leg advantage, as he got round in 11m04s, which eventually saw his club home with a total time over the six legs of 65m50s, which gave them a 71 second cushion over the still second placed Gateshead Harriers, with Sunderland Harriers just eclipsing New Marske for the bronze medals.
New Marske held onto fourth spot, however, they very nearly lost out on that placing to a very fast finishing Morpeth Harriers B team, who were fifth in 69m14s, courtesy of Robert Balmbra (11m35s), Taylor Glover (11m50s), Ryan Stephenson (11m18s), Sam Hancox (11m08s), Kieran Hedley (11m48s) and Jordan Scott (11m35s).
Morpeth Harriers Senior Men’s C team also competed well, however, lack of a sixth member robbed them of a prominent finish, as they ended the fifth leg in 14th place.
The team’s performances came from Mark Snowball (17th) 11m44s, James Young (17th) 12m15s, Jacob Hopkins (20th) 13m01s, Mark Cockburn (16th) 12m31s and David Swinburne (14th) 12m21s.