Returning Harrier Jonny impresses in 4k run

IN his first competitive outing of 2014, Morpeth Harrier Jonny Taylor certainly impressed in front of a television audience, writes George Patterson.

The former UK Men’s 3000m steeplechase champion competed well to finish a much-deserved seventh in Saturday’s Men’s Invitation 4k event at the Bupa Great Winter Run Festival, held at a soft and very churned-up Holyrood Park, in Edinburgh.

He was always prominent in a top-class field that included world talents such as Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia and Asbel Kiprop of Kenya.

However, it was Garret Heath of the USA who eventually won in a time of 11m51s, just holding off Ethiopian junior champion Meresa Kersay.

Kiprop finished third, just ahead of fellow Kenyan James Magut.

Bekele eventually moved into fifth place, just ahead of Great Britain’s Chris Thompson, who in turn just out-sprinted Taylor.

Taylor had led the field for half of the second of two laps, having taken over the leader’s mantle from fellow Brit Jonathan Davies, whose youthful exuberance got the better of him.

Other Morpeth Harriers in Edinburgh took part in the Elite and Masses event, which was held on a road circuit.

North Eastern Counties U17 Men’s cross-country champion Nathan Cox was the pick of these, when he finished an excellent third to the more senior Andrew Nixon of Stockport Harriers, only losing out for victory by a margin of 36 seconds.

Jim Alder and Alison Brown of Morpeth Harriers were also well-placed in the large field. They finished 47th and 95th respectively.

Alison was seventh woman finisher in the large field.

In one of the earlier short junior events, Morpeth’s Adam Shewry finished 12th in 7m56s.

ALTHOUGH runners faced a cold and frosty start on Sunday morning for the 30th renewal of the Durham Cathedral Relays, held at the Durham University sports ground, by the time the Senior Men got into gear in their 3x3k relay event, the action was indeed hot.

Defending their title for the third consecutive year, Morpeth Harriers retained their composure throughout, and eventually came through to carve out a well-deserved victory by a margin of 16 seconds over hosts Durham City.

Morpeth New Year’s Day Road Race winner Lewis Timmins, was well up on leading protagonists Cameron Boyek (Shildon), North East Cross Champion Dan Garbutt (Durham City) and Chris Parr (Gateshead Harriers) on the first of three legs and came home a very fast and close fourth in a time of 9m13s.

Nick Swinburn made excellent strides on leg two, when he clocked 9m17s to finish second.

This gave Matt Nicholson the ideal stage to clinch victory on the final leg and he quickly passed Durham City on entering the second lap and went on to a glorious win.

Also competing well were the Morpeth Harriers Senior Men’s B-team, who finished fifth in 29m37s, courtesy of Michael Dawson (9m42s), Ryan Green (10m17s) and Ryan Stephenson (9m38s).

It was also Green’s first outing in a senior relay and he competed well, still being an U17.

Unfortunately, the Morpeth Senior Men’s C-team could not field a third runner, as they were lying in 13th, courtesy of Thomas Straughan (9m48s) and Sam Hancox (10m51s).

Morpeth Harriers Senior Women’s A-team finished fifth in their three=leg relay.

They were lying second on leg one courtesy of Emma Holt’s 11m16s.

Lorna MacDonald battled well against stern opposition on leg two, where she finished fifth with a personal clocking of 12m52s.

Jane Hodgson showed much determination as she maintained fifth place on the final leg, where she got round in 11m55s.

Running her second race in two days, Alison Brown got the Morpeth B-team off to a very good start, when she finished 16th on the first leg with her clocking of 12m27s.

Claire Walker’s second leg clocking of 14m48s saw her finish in 31st place.

Kate Chapman rose to 30th with her final-leg clocking of 13m55s.

Morpeth Harriers Senior Women’s C-team finished well by placing 34th and were well rewarded by third place in the incorporated Over 45 Women’s Veterans Championship, being achieved by Gwenda Cavill (13m25s), birthday girl Lesley Chapman (14m47s) and Jane Briggs (13m29s).

In the Men’s Veterans Championships, Morpeth Harriers A-team collected bronze medals in the Over 35 age group courtesy of Fergus Bates (10m45s), Geoff Whitman (11m14s) and John Butters (10m51s), who combined well to place fifth overall.

Despite finishing 11th overall, courtesy of Paul Waterston (11m15s), Rob Hancox (11m32s) and Phil Walker (11m07s), Morpeth Harriers Veteran Men’s B-team could not quite make the medal podium in the Over 45 age group.

The club’s C-team did, however, win medals in the Over 55 Men’s category, when they won silver courtesy of Les Cavill (12m47s), Archie Jenkins (13m08s) and Gavin Bayne (12m08s), who all combined well to finish 43rd overall.

MORPETH Harrier Nathan Cox followed up his excellent Great Winter Run performance in Edinburgh on Saturday by convincingly winning the Under 17 Men’s event at the Scottish Borders Cross Country League meeting at Paxton House, near Berwick, on Sunday.

Clocking a time of 9m10s, he won with plenty to spare over his closest rival Kobe Stevens of Moorfoot AC .

Fellow Morpeth Harrier Bob Marshall also competed in the longer mixed Senior event and finished 43rd in a large field. He also placed as second in the Over 60 Men’s category.