MORPETH Harriers’ Senior Men achieved an outstanding result in the Division One Grand Prix standings at the second Start Fitness North Eastern Harrier League fixture, writes George Patterson.
The club had nine finishers inside the top 80 of a 370-plus strong field at Farringdon College, Sunderland, on Saturday – including new signing Graeme Taylor, who was a non-counter on the day owing to his recent transfer from Jarrow and Hebburn.
Taylor is indeed a key signing for Morpeth, having established an early lead in the individual standings after his run at the first meeting at Cramlington, where he finished as fastest on the day in 23rd place.
On Saturday, he emerged as seventh fastest in 54th place overall from the Fast Pack. He was, however, behind five of his new clubmates, who all performed exceptionally.
First of those was Ian Harding, whose run from the Medium Pack, with a two-and-a-half minute handicap against the majority of the field, meant he came through the field to finish a well-accomplished fourth. He clocked the third fastest overall time of the day.
Second home for Morpeth Harriers was North of England 10,000m track champion Peter Newton, whose form continues to prosper with each run.
Newton’s run from the Fast Pack, giving five minutes to the majority of the field, saw him place an excellent 23rd and as second fastest on the day. His performance was only 13 places and 76 seconds adrift of the fastest man, the guesting Yarod Hagos of Bradford and Airedale.
Not far behind was the club’s third counter Chris Waugh, who was 42nd overall from the Slow Pack.
Fourth counter was Steven Bradley, who is showing great improvement since joining the club this summer, and his run to finish 45th from the Slow Pack clearly testifies to his blossoming abilities. Next home for Morpeth came Michael Dawson in 53rd place, coming through as sixth fastest on the day from the Fast Pack and one place ahead of the aforementioned Taylor.
This made Neil Gunstone the club’s closing counter, finishing in 67th place overall from the Slow Pack.
Other Morpeth Harriers who produced creditable runs on the day were John Woods, who finished one place behind Gunstone, also running from the Slow Pack, and the club’s Road and Cross Country Team Manager David Swinburne, who again put in one of his exemplary performances when finishing in 72nd place from the Fast Pack.
An excellent team-leading performance by Jarod Lewis saw Morpeth Harriers’ Under 15 Boys just lose out in the team race on the day to Gateshead Harriers.
Running from the Slow Pack, Lewis finished fourth overall and further team support came from excellent performances by James Heppell (seventh from Slow Pack) and Philip Winkler (14th from Fast Pack), who in turn was sixth fastest in the race. Morpeth’s other runner in this event was Hans Paulsen, who finished 46th from the Slow Pack.
Another good Morpeth Harriers result on the day came from their Under 13 Boys who finished third, only losing out for second on countback when on level points with Chester-le-Street.
They were led home by a buoyant Jacob Hopkins, who continues to impress, and his run from the Fast Pack to finish sixth overall was indeed something special as he was third fastest on the course.
Not far behind him in 11th place was Kieron Hedley, who also produced an excellent run from the Fast Pack that saw him finish as eighth fastest overall.
The Morpeth team count was closed by Samuel Williams, whose run from the Slow Pack saw him finish 17th overall.
Other Morpeth Harriers to finish in this age group were as follows: Euan Jones (32nd from Fast Pack), Philip Kirby (43rd from Fast Pack), Hamish Thomson (44th from Slow Pack) and Lewis James (53rd from Slow Pack).
Jonny Nisbet continued his splendid form to finish in fifth place overall in the Under 17 Men’s race.
Running from the Fast Pack, he emerged as easily the fastest on the course. Sadly there was no Morpeth Harriers team challenge, with the club’s only other competitor being Henrik Paulsen who finished 19th from the Slow Pack.
Jane Hodgson showed that her recent marathon has not taken its toll when she finished in 12th place in the Senior Women’s event. Running from the Fast Pack, she was the third fastest overall on the day. Morpeth Harriers’ other runner in this event was Emma Pearson, who also ran well from the Fast Pack to finish in 39th place out of a 153-strong field.
Unfortunately, the club could not turn out full teams in either the Under 13 or Under 15 Girls’ events.
In the Under 13 Girls, Florence Thomson ran very confidently from the Slow Pack to finish eighth overall and not far behind her was fellow Slow Packer Georgia Priest, who finished in 12th place.
Morpeth Harriers’ two Under 15 Girls, Charlotte Jewell and Sarah Wilkes, finished in 12th and 20th places respectively from the Slow Pack.
In the non-scoring Under 11s event, Morpeth Harriers Ailsa Jones and Harriet Priest finished in 15th and 40th places as sixth and 22nd females respectively.
l Morpeth Harrier Ian Hudspith travelled to Portsmouth on Sunday to compete in a quality filled Bupa Great South Run 10-mile Road Race.
He finished 29th in 51m39s, and clubmate Gary Jones also made the journey to finish 52nd in 55m49s.