An absolutely superb front-running performance throughout gave Morpeth Harriers’ Senior Men a most emphatic victory at Saturday’s annual North Eastern Counties Road Relay Championships, held at Hetton Lyons Park, Hetton Le Hole, which saw them win the impressive Royal Signals Trophy.
After Lewis Timmins gave them an excellent start on leg one, when he clocked what was to emerge as the fastest time of the day of 10m33s for the two-lap 2.22-mile circuit.
He just held off the talented Ethiopian Wondiye Indelbu of Crook to gain an early lead, passing on to second-leg runner Thomas Straughan (11m11s), who also held off close attentions from Markhim Lonsdale, who was determined to maintain Crook’s early challenge.
Morpeth Harriers moved further ahead on leg three, courtesy of Nathan Shrubb (10m59s).
Their lead was maintained on leg four, when Ryan Stephenson marked his competitive comeback by clocking 11m14s.
Ian Hudspith certainly made an emphatic victory for Morpeth beyond all doubt on the penultimate fifth leg, when he got round the two laps in 10m52s.
Victory by nearly three minutes over Gateshead Harriers was sealed, when final-leg runner Nick Swinburn came home in a third fastest clocking of the day of 10m35s.
What was the icing on the cake for Morpeth Harriers was learning that they had beaten their own course record by three seconds.
Just over five minutes behind the Morpeth Senior Men’s A-team came their B-team in an excellent sixth place.
This was a very good performance indeed by a squad that included two U20, three U17 and Senior Man in their six-leg line-up.
Sam Hancox had the squad well placed, when he came home in 12th position, with his leg-one clocking of 11m47s.
Fellow U20 man Elliot Kelly certainly meant tough business when he climbed to seventh on leg two, when he clocked an excellent 11m42s.
The squad progressed a little further to sixth when U17 youngster Scott Beattie clocked the squad’s fastest time of 11m19s on the third leg.
Fellow U17 athlete Adam Gibbs tried to maintain this placing on leg four, however, he just slipped one place in the late stages, despite clocking 11m55s.
James Young slipped back to eighth on the penultimate fifth leg, when he clocked 12m29s, however, on his North Eastern Relay debut; Chris Smith ran a superb final leg to reach sixth position.
Another excellent Morpeth Harriers result was achieved by their Over 40 Veteran Men in their six-stage relay, in which they finished second to Tyne Bridge.
Fergus Bates got the squad off to a good start with his first leg clocking of 11m48s.
Further team support came from Paul Waterston (12m26s), Rob Hancox (12m38s), Phil Walker (12m50s), Steve Haswell (13m14s) and Mick Thomsen, making a long-awaited comeback after injury, who clocked 12m51s.
Other Veteran medal winners for Morpeth Harriers were their Over 50 Men, who finished third behind North Shields Poly in their four-stage relay, courtesy of Gavin Bayne (13m36s), Jim Alder (13m56s), Tim Miley (13m15s), on his relay debut, and Alistair MacDonald (13m28s).
An excellent Morpeth Harriers Over 50 Veteran Men’s B-team performance saw them finish ninth.
Peter Scaife clocked 14m09s on leg one, which was supported by the other three legs run by Richard Sill (15m25s), Hamish McAllister-Williams (14m53s), in his first relay event for the club, and Les Cavill (15m33s).
Morpeth Harriers’ Senior Women finished as eighth team behind a very strong Birtley squad, who retained their title.
The squad was certainly boosted by the appearance of international Laura Weightman, who took them up to third place on the second leg, when she clocked the fastest time of the day of 11m36.
Weightman, only just returned from warm-weather training in Kenya, certainly looked sharp, with the closest time behind her coming from Birtley’s Lydia Turner, producing 12m05s on their winning final leg.
Supporting Laura in the Morpeth effort were U17 athlete Abby Sheldon (15m01s) and U20 athletes Amber Cormack (15m00s) and Charlotte Jewell (14m54s), who all stepped up to the plate in a most competitive event.
Morpeth Harriers Senior Women’s B-team can also feel well pleased with their placing of 19th out of 40 competing teams.
U20 Woman Hannah Sheerin clocked 15m46s on leg one, handing over to fellow age-group athlete Alison Brown, who despite some niggling injury problems of late, managed to gain three places, with a clocking of 15m12s.
Veteran athlete Gwenda Cavill made further ground on the third and penultimate leg, and fellow Veteran Lesley Chapman took the squad to their final placing, clocking a time of 16m43s.
Mark Snowball, who had competed in the Druridge Bay Park Run earlier in the morning, where he had clocked a new personal best on the course of 18m06s, to come home in first place, also ran first leg here for an incomplete Morpeth Harriers Senior Men’s C-team, where he clocked 12m33s, coming home 24th overall.
Taking over on second leg from Mark was Nick O’Neill, who was having his first taste of competition since recently joining up with the club. Nick clocked 13m13s, coming home in 30th place.
Also having his first taste of competition for the Morpeth Harriers C-team was Joe Davison, who got round the 2.22miles in 14m24s, to finish in 32nd place.
Steve Garrett, formerly with Wallsend Harriers completed the fourth leg for the Morpeth Harriers C-team in 17m06s and signed off the squad’s effort in 40th place.
Morpeth Harrier Jack Hepple more than repaid the utmost faith, determination and hard work shown by his coach and mentor Eddie Hedley on Sunday afternoon, when he won a most deserved silver medal in the Senior Men’s 60m at the North Eastern Counties Indoor Track and Field Championships, held at the Gateshead Indoor Athletics facility.
After winning his heat in a new pb of 7.00secs, the talented sprinter certainly pulled out all of the strength that he could muster, to finish second behind Gateshead Harrier Christian Carson, furthering his best, when clocking 6.97s to Carson’s winning time of 6.87s.
He kept pace with the older Gateshead man for at least half of the event and only lost out in the dying strides for victory.
With the summer track campaign fast approaching, Hepple now finds himself working in an entirely new dimension, with this being the first occasion he has managed under seven seconds for the shorter track event and coach Hedley certainly believes that his athlete can rise to the occasion awaiting him, and he himself will work with him to help him achieve his ultimate goal of success.
Another Morpeth Harrier in action at the Track Championships was Over 40 Veteran Man Wayne Gedge, who finished as second in his category in the Veteran Men’s 60m, clocking 8.33s, securing a North East Masters silver medal.