Morpeth runners fly the flag for Britain in Turkey

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Lewis Timmins, Carl Avery, Ady Whitwam, Thomas Straughan, Ross Floyd, and Sam Hancox, can all hold their heads high after their superb performance for club and country at the weekend.

They were all competing in the European Clubs Cup Cross Country Championships, held in Kastamonu in Northern Turkey on Sunday.

The Morpeth Harriers sextet worked extremely well together as a squad, representing Great Britain, to pull off an excellent result by finishing seventh out of ten strong complete teams, only missing out by one point for sixth place to SG Wenden of Germany.

Lewis Timmins was the clubs first man home, completing the six and a half lap 10k course, which was covered in slushy snow which had fell by the bucketful the previous day, which eventually gave way to thick muddy patches, in a time of 34m38s, which gave him a placing of just inside the top half of the field of 25th.

In fact Timmins was only a mere ten seconds adrift of a top twenty finishing place, such was the quality of his performance, in what were very tricky, and largely unexpected conditions.

Not far behind Timmins was club colleague Carl Avery.

The North Eastern Cross Country bronze medallist was only two places and five seconds adrift of him.

Further good packing came from Ady Whitwam, the squads oldest head on show, excluding the supporting Team Coach Jim Alder of course, whose bellowing voice of encouragement was there to spur his beloved club to a successful end.

Whitwam finished 30th in a time of 35m06s, and it was not long before the fourth and closing counter Thomas Straughan crossed the finish line in 35th spot, and posting a time of 35m31s.

Not far behind Straughan were Ross Floyd and young Sam Hancox, the youngest competitor in the race, who won’t turn 21 till the end of March.

Floyd came home in 37th place in 36m03s, and Hancox finished 39th in 36m41s.

All in all, Morpeth Harriers as a unit produced a high quality performance against the toughest of opponents on a true International stage.

The individual medals on the day went to Bekir Karayel of Istanbul BBSK in Turkey (gold) 32m33s, Othmane El Goumrie Ales Cevennes of France 32m57s, and Romain Courcieres also of Ales Cevennes in France 33m01s.

Team champions were Ales Cevennes of France, team Silver medallists were Istanbul BBSK of Turkey, and the team bronze medals went to IK Tjalve of Norway.

The Morpeth squad did not have the best of preparations for the event, when the heavy snowfall on the previous day forced the cancellation of their planned flight from Istanbul to the event venue in Kastamonu, which resulted in them facing an alternative four to five hour bus journey, which left them feeling more tired than they would have wished.

It is certainly to their utmost credit that they persevered, and got on with the job in hand, knowing that the support of their club and country was firmly behind them, and the final result that they achieved was indeed highly commendable.