North East men make it three in a row at big county battle

Kieran Hedley is pictured receiving his certificate of achievement from Morpeth Harriers club chairman David Swinburne at their clubhouse on Mitford Road. Photograph courtesy of Hudson Stoker
Kieran Hedley is pictured receiving his certificate of achievement from Morpeth Harriers club chairman David Swinburne at their clubhouse on Mitford Road. Photograph courtesy of Hudson Stoker

FOR the ninth time, and for the third time in succession, the North East Counties Senior Men’s team triumphed over all of the country’s respective line-ups at the annual Inter Counties Cross Country Championships, which also included the World Trials, held at Cofton Park, near Birmingham, on Saturday, writes George Patterson.

Before the event, it had been expected that the region would mount a very serious challenge for honours in the Senior Men’s 12k event, however, what was not known was the landslide margin they would win by in both the six-man effort and the nine-man count.

Having all of their nine to run finishing within the top 70 of a near 300 finishers in the event, run over four laps of ever increasing mud, was no mean feat, and the North East squad are to be credited to a man for their superb efforts.

They were led home by Morpeth Harrier Jonny Taylor, who after a dog fight for an individual medal, finished fourth, just losing out to Hampshire’s Andy Vernon by eight seconds for bronze.

While Durham City’s Dan Garbutt, and Stockport’s former Sunderland Harrier Patrick Martin finished ninth and 15 respectively to make the region’s second and third counts, Morpeth Harriers Lewis Timmins (17th), Richard Morrell (24th), and Ryan Stephenson (39th), all battled well to finalise a winning six-man score.

Meanwhile, two more Morpeth Harriers, Matt Nicholson (57th), and Ross Floyd (60th), along with Stockport’s Jack Martin (65th), added to a tremendous North East counties’ overall squad result.

This all also meant that five of Morpeth Harriers’ winning English National Cross Country squad had managed to claim a second major title in the space of 14 days.

The region was also well-represented by their U13 boys, who superbly claimed bronze team medals in their 3k event.

Amongst their counters was Morpeth Harriers Kieran Hedley, who added this success to a very good tally of performances, which include North Eastern Cross Country, North of England and National Championships.

Hedley was third home from the region, in an excellent 23rd place, supporting Tynedale’s Max Pearson’s leading effort to finish eighth, and Middlesbrough Mandale’s Josh Cowperthwaite who placed 12th.

The bronze medal-winning count was completed by Darlington’s Bradley Davies finishing 59th.

Ashley Gibson, of Morpeth Harriers, was the region’s second finisher in the Senior Women’s 8k event when finishing 50th.

Rosie Smith, of Durham City, led the squad home in 13th place, with further support coming from Middlesbrough Mandale’s Josie Stone (63rd), Jarrow and Hebburn’s Alex Snook (71st), Middlesbrough Mandale’s Kerry Matthew (106th), and Durham City’s former Morpeth Harrier Aiveen Fox (114th).

Just outside the scoring six, but not far adrift, was Morpeth Harrier Emma Holt, who came through to finish 122nd.

Morpeth Harrier Alison Brown was seventh home from the region in 77th place in the U17 Women’s 5k event, where the North East was led home to sixth team place by Birtley’s Lydia Turner, who agonisingly just missed out on an individual bronze medal by three seconds, finishing fourth.

Charlotte Jewell, of Morpeth Harriers, marked her first Inter Counties opportunity by competing well to finish as seventh from the region, in 165th place in a field of 287 finishers in the U15 Girls’ 4k event, where the North East finished seventh.

Although not a counter, Ryan Green, of Morpeth Harriers, battled to finish 114th, and easily in the top half of the U15 Boys’ 4.5k field, where the region finished as ninth team.

Also outside the counters was Morpeth’s Phillip Winkler, who battled gamely to finish 175th in the U17 Men’s 6k event, where the region finished a lowly 20th.

There were no Morpeth Harriers involved in the remaining three events on the 10 race programme.

In the U20 Men’s 8k event the North East finished just outside the medals in fourth team place.

The North East U13 Girls’ 3k squad finished 13th, and their U20 Women’s 6k squad finished14th.

* The February Benfield Motor Group Morpeth Harriers Athlete of the Month Award has gone to U13 boy Phillip Kirby.

With Kieran Hedley having already won the award in September, Kirby won the award as second finisher to Hedley in the English National Cross Country Championships, and for doggedly still turning out when nursing an injury during the recent schools championships in addition to supporting his clubs competitive ambitions.

* Morpeth Harrier John Mooney, 33, currently residing and working in Germany, won Sunday’s Celler Wasa Lauf 10k Road race, in Celle, in an excellent time of 32m10s.

Mooney was a clear minute and five seconds ahead of his closest rival in a total field of 1,296 finishers.

* Morpeth Harriers had two Park Run wins on Saturday.

Ian Hudspith won the Newcastle Run in 15m39s, and Sarah Graham achieved success by being first woman home in the Leeds Roundhay Park Run in 21m05s for the 5k distance.

Other Morpeth Harriers competing at Newcastle were Gavin Bayne and Mike Steven, who finished 32nd and 63rd in respective times of 19m53s and 21m22s.