Morpeth Harriers U13 and U15 Boys were in dominant form at the annual Birtley AC Young Athletes Multi Terrain Relays, held at the Lord Lawson of Beamish Academy in Birtley, near Gateshead on Sunday.
Conditions were cold, wet and windy, however despite that, the brave youngsters battled to win two respective titles quite convincingly.
The U13 Boys won by a very clear margin of 42 seconds from second-placed Durham City, with third-placed Gateshead Harriers a further 43 seconds adrift.
Joseph Hudspith had the squad placed fourth on the opening leg of three of a distance of 1.65k, as he posted a time of 6.04s, which would eventually emerge as the tenth fastest leg of the day.
He handed over to second-leg runner Bertie Marr, who quickly set about gaining a lead, by clocking what was to be the fastest Morpeth U13 Boy time of 5.34s.
Marr handed over to Ryan Davies, who had competed for the North East at the previous day’s Inter Counties Cross Country.
That factor certainly bore no factor on the Morpeth youngster, as he built upon the lead created by Marr, getting around the circuit in a time of 5m37s, the second fastest time of the day, to reward his club with a handsome set of gold team medals.
Just under an hour later, Morpeth Harriers were enjoying their second team triumph of the morning, as their Under 15 Boys also took gold medals in their 3 x 2.5k event.
In fact, the squad led consistently throughout the contest to win by a margin of 31 seconds from Gosforth Harriers, with Houghton Harriers a further 29 seconds adrift in third place.
First-leg duty fell to Ben Waterfield, who clocked a time of 9m07s. Second-leg runner Dylan Gooding maintained the lead, as he got around the circuit in 9m25s.
Final and glory leg runner Dylan Davies, older brother of Ryan, quietly maintained his lead, as he came home with an individual clocking of 9m21s.
* Several Morpeth Harriers were in action at the annual UK Inter Counties Cross Country Championships, held a Prestwold Hall, near Loughborough, Leicestershire, on Saturday.
A heavy morning downpour left the ground heavier than anticipated and strong crosswinds made conditions difficult to master on a day of vital competition for some.
The event not only included the final of the annual UK Cross Challenge, it also acted as a selection event for Senior and Under 20 athletes of both genders for the forthcoming World Cross Country Championships, due to be held in Aarhus, Denmark, on Saturday, March 30.
Two Morpeth Harriers who may see themselves on the start-line in Denmark following their respective performances, are U20 male Rory Leonard, and Senior Woman Mhairi MacLennan.
Leonard is definitely the more certain of the two, after finishing a close second to Welsh Champion Matt Willis of North Wales in the Under 20 Men’s 8k event.
The English National Champion only lost out for a gold medal victory by a mere 12 seconds, beating fellow North Easterner Josh Cowperthwaite of Middlesbrough AC, the North East Champion in the process, who took the bronze medal. Leonard and Cowperthwaite led the North East to silver team medals, with Morpeth’s Kieran Hedley being the third counter in 23rd place.
Meanwhile, MacLennan ran superbly to finish third in the Senior Women’s 10k, a distance that they were running for the first time in the competition.
While MacLennan will feel pleased to take the bronze medal, she must wait for the selectors’ verdicts as to whether she will be included in the Worlds, as only the first two Jenny Nesbitt (Worcestershire) and Jess Piasecki (formerly Coulson; Greater Manchester), were being guaranteed selection. Mhairi was competing for her native Scotland East, who were incomplete, only having three finishers.
Meanwhile, the North East finished as third team behind Yorkshire and Essex, who took the respective gold and silver team medals.
Finishing 58th and 107th, Emma Holt and Catriona MacDonald were the region’s fifth and sixth counters.
The North East’s English National winner at Harewood House two weeks ago, Sam Charlton of Wallsend Harriers, certainly repeated his form, as he added the Inter Counties title in the Under 17 Men’s 6k event, winning by a slender six seconds from Hamish Armitt of Scotland West, with Yorkshire’s Josh Dickinson securing the bronze medal, two seconds further adrift.
He led the North East to fourth team place, although they may well have finished third if their squad had included Morpeth’s Daniel Melling, who had an excellent run to finish 24th, and ahead of the rest of the region’s team. Melling was running independently as a Morpeth Harrier participating in the UK Cross Challenge.
India Pentland, of Darlington Harriers, was the region’s other individual gold medallist on the day, winning the U17 Women’s 5k event, leading the NE home to fifth team place, with further team support including Morpeth’s Holly Peck, who performed superbly to finish 25th, and was second counter.
The region’s U13 Boys finished as fifth team, with Morpeth’s Ryan Davies producing an excellent run to finish as third counter in 30th place.
Morpeth’s English National bronze medallist Carl Avery led the NE Senior Men home to sixth team spot, when finishing seventh.
Also competing in the Senior Men’s 10k event was Morpeth’s Jordan Scott, who finished 158th in a 293-strong field.
Other Morpeth Harriers in action in the championships were Ben Walker, who finished 269th in the 313 strong U15 Boys’ field and ran a distance of 4k, and Gracie Hufton, who finished 121st, in a 152-strong U20 Women’s 6k event.