Simply the best by Joe in country pursuit

Morpeth Harrier Jarod Lewis was among the race winners at the Harrier League meeting in Alnwick on Saturday. Picture by HUDSON STOKER.
Morpeth Harrier Jarod Lewis was among the race winners at the Harrier League meeting in Alnwick on Saturday. Picture by HUDSON STOKER.
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JOE Dowd’s emphatic victory in the U13 Boys’ event, at the fifth and penultimate Start Fitness North Eastern Harrier League meeting at Alnwick on Saturday, must go down as not only Morpeth Harriers’ best performance on the day, but also ranks as one of the club’s best performances by one of their younger age-group athletes for some time, writes George Patterson.

Running from the fast pack and giving 80 seconds’ start to a good proportion of a 61-strong field of finishers, Dowd devoured all in front of him, as he got round the hilly circuit on the Pastures north of Alnwick Castle, to eventually take victory by four seconds over his closest rival.

He won a Harrier League gold medal on the day for his efforts and also led his club’s U13 Boys’ squad to an on-the-day team victory, which puts them in a very prominent position going into the final fixture later in March, which is being re-routed to Wrekenton.

Supporting Dowd in the Morpeth Harriers team victory on Saturday were Wilf Campbell (sixth, Slow Pack) and Ross Charlton (12th, Fast Pack).

In addition to the scoring three, Morpeth Harriers enjoyed seeing creditable performances from other U13 Boy athletes.

Not far behind the aforementioned Ross Charltoncame Daniel Dixon, who ran well from the Fast Pack to finish 15th and was 11th fastest on the course.

Twelfth fastest and finishing 19th overall was Alex Cunningham (Fast Pack).

Other Morpeth U13 Boys’ performances were as follows: Adam Kirby (31st, Slow Pack), Cameron Dick (32nd, Fast Pack), Robbie Dunlop (52nd, Slow Pack) and Robbie Elder (54th, Slow Pack).

Another team victory on the day for Morpeth was achieved by their U17 Men, which also saw an individual winner for the club in Jarod Lewis, who took victory by 15 seconds from the Slow Pack.

Jarod was supported in the team victory by a very much fit-again North Eastern U17 Men’s Cross Country Champion Nathan Cox, who finished fifth from the Fast Pack as third fastest overall, and Phillip Winkler (seventh, Fast Pack), who was fifth fastest.

Other Morpeth U17 Men running at Alnwick were: Ryan Green, who finished 11th from the Fast Pack and was seventh fastest on the course, and Joe Elder, who finished 29th from the Fast Pack.

Running from the Medium Pack and clocking the fifth fastest time overall, Carl Avery led the Morpeth Harriers Senior Men home for the second time in the Harrier League, when he came through to finish third overall.

Unfortunately on this occasion, Morpeth Harriers couldn’t clinch another team victory on the day in Division One, just being outrun by Tyne Bridge, however, they still remain on top respectively on the season.

Further team support came from Lewis Timmins (eighth, Fast Pack, second fastest), Richard Morrell (12th, Fast Pack, fourth fastest), Rob Hancox (34th, Slow Pack), David Steel (49th, Slow Pack), Mick Thomsen (76th, Medium Pack).

Although they were outside the scoring sextet, the following Morpeth Harriers battled hard throughout to gain very respectable placings in the Senior Men’s event, which had a total of 427 finishers on the day.

Phil Walker, who had led the club’s Veteran Men to gold medals at the British Masters 10-mile Championships at Maryport, Cumbria, the previous Sunday, ran well from the Medium Pack to finish 97th.

Not far behind him and also from the Medium Pack was Paul Waterston, who had also been a member of the winning team at Maryport, along with the aforementioned Mick Thomsen.

Paul finished in 104th place.

Jim Alder who had also competed well at Maryport, was next Morpeth Harrier home, finishing 119th from the Slow Pack.

Running from the Fast Pack, Sam Hancox battled hard throughout to finish in 123rd place.

Geoff Whitman, who was having his first run in the Medium Pack, did well to come through to 160th place.

Despite still carrying a shin injury, Richard Kirby battled through the pain barrier to finish in 258th place from the Slow Pack.

Having his first outing in a Morpeth vest, Andy Stephenson battled to finish 376th from the Slow Pack.

Emma Holt and Jane Hodgson of Morpeth Harriers, both produced excellent runs to finish third and sixth in the Senior Women’s event, and were fastest and third fastest in the race.

Unfortunately, the club could not muster a third supporting team counter on the day, which has more than likely ruled out any promotion chances from Division Two.

Morpeth Harriers two U15 Girls, Lizzie Rank and Abby Sheldon, both performed well in their event.

While Lizzie stuck to the task in hand by finishing fourth from the Slow Pack, Abby finished 11th overall from the Fast Pack, posting the eighth fastest time on the day, which sees her looking prominent in the season’s Grand Prix standings.

It was good to see Morpeth Harriers with a finishing team, which placed eighth in the U13 Girls’ event.

They were led home by Kate Seymour, who finished 19th overall from the Fast Pack, and was eighth fastest.

Two places behind her was Holly Peck, who was promoted for her first run in the Fast Pack, following her outstanding victory in the previous meeting at Wrekenton.

Holly was ninth fastest in the race.

Completing the scoring trio was club newcomer Gracie Hutton, recently transferred from Blyth Running Club, who, despite losing a shoe, rallied through to finish in 42nd place from the Slow Pack.

Morpeth Harriers U15 Boys’ squad finished fourth, being led home by Kieran Hedley (10th, Fast Pack), closely followed home by Jacob Hopkins (11th, Fast Pack), with Sam Williams (19th, Fast Pack) completing the scoring trio.

This squad did well in terms of turnout, as in addition to the scoring three, they also saw creditable runs from Adam Shewry (25th, Fast Pack), Josh Burton (27th, Fast Pack), Lewis James (33rd, Slow Pack) and Alex Dunlop (36th, Slow Pack).

Having just been made aware of her selection as a late replacement in the North East’s U17 Women’s team for this weekend’s Inter Counties Cross Country Championships, being held at Cofton Park, in Birmingham, Morpeth Harrier Charlotte Jewell celebrated by finishing eighth in her race from the Fast Pack, coming home as seventh fastest in the event.

The U11s non-scoring Try It Cross Country saw Morpeth Harriers field nine athletes among the 114 finishers.

Leading performers were Thomas Cunningham (fifth, fifth Boy), Bobby Stone (eighth, eighth Boy) and Rhiannon Hedley (17th, fourth Girl).

Other Morpeth performances came from Dylan Gooding (31st), Josh Gair (35th), Edward Kirby (39th), Callum Rowell (54th), Joshua Williams (59th) and Jordan Bowling-Mowatt (67th) and Owen Bowling-Mowatt (87th).

The event was held in sunshine with very little wind to trouble competitors and, although there were some muddy patches, the majority of the course was relatively dry.

Thanks must go to Jim Lillico and Sue Bolam and their team at Alnwick Harriers for hosting a successful event on behalf of the North Eastern Harrier League.

The nine-race programme was enjoyed by a total of 1,012 finishers.

A VERY competitive field took part in Sunday’s richly-prized Mizuno Half Marathon in Reading, Berkshire.

The Senior Men’s line-up included Morpeth Harriers’ leading finisher from the previous week’s English National Cross Country Championships, Nick Swinburn, who was expecting to continue his recent rich vein of form on an altogether different terrain.

Obviously still feeling the exertions from his excellent run the previous week, Swinburn had to be content with a placing of 12th in 66m47s, a good two minutes adrift of race winner, GB Marathon International Scott Overall of Blackheath and Bromley.

Fellow North Easterners Ryan McLeod of Tipton and Jack Martin of Stockport finished in eighth and 13th places respectively.

It is hoped that Swinburn will still be able to make himself available for selection for his club for the Northern Athletics 12-Stage Road Relays, scheduled to be held at Heaton Park, Manchester, in two weeks’ time.

LAST week’s Herald reported on the achievements of three athletes from Morpeth Harriers, who collectively won team gold medals for their club at the Netherhall 10-Mile Road Race, held on Sunday, February 23, in Maryport, Cumbria, along with prominent Veteran category placings, in the incorporated British Masters Championships.

In addition to those excellent performances by Mick Thomsen, Phil Walker, and Paul Waterston, we can also report that Jim Alder finished fifth in the Over 50 Men’s category, Mike Winter finished 10th in what was a very competitive Over 40 Men’s category and last, but certainly not least, Bob Wells finished second in the Over 65 Men’s category.

Also, conditions for all were not ideal, with 35mph winds prevailing throughout the event over a very tough hilly course.