A quiet corner of Manchester certainly became very much alive on Sunday, when the diminutive frame of Dylan Davies brought Morpeth Harriers U15 Boys home to an excellent set of gold team medals in their 3 x 3.1k Relay, in the annual Northern Athletics Autumn Road Relay Championships.
An excellent first leg clocking of 11m33s by Ben Waterfield, saw him sitting in eighth spot, however he was only a mere ten seconds adrift of a medal placing, and only eighteen seconds adrift of early leaders, and local North Eastern rivals North Shields Poly, courtesy of Josh Blevins, who clocked what was eventually to emerge as the second fastest time of the day.
This mattered nothing to Morpeth’s second leg runner Euan Duffin however, as he quickly set about clawing back any deficits, to eventually grab an eleven second margin of lead, over newly second placed Wirral, with a fastest of the leg clocking of 11m19s, which was eventually to emerge as third fastest overall on the day.
Duffin, who is his clubs’ newly crowned Under 15 Boys Road Champion, handed over to final leg runner Davies, who managed to fend off a new threat from Horwich and Salford, as Wirral slipped back to fourth, by clocking a sixth fastest leg time of 11m42s, to take a very satisfying victory by a margin of seven seconds.
Morpeth could also take much pleasure from seeing their U15 Boys B team finish 25th of 43 teams that started the race, posting a total time of 39m00s, four minutes and 26 seconds adrift of their winning A team colleagues, courtesy of an excellent first leg run by Dylan Gooding (11m57s), and very competent performances by Jonny Kidd (13m45s), and Ben Walker (13m18s).
In addition to the medal winning performance, the club enjoyed no fewer than four further top ten performances on the day.
The next best came from their U13 Boys squad, who finished fifth, and only a mere 37 seconds adrift of winners City of Sheffield & Dearne, who were retaining the title they won in 2017. They were actually closer to the bronze medals, as only a mere six seconds separated them from Sale Harriers.
Joseph Hudspith began a strong Morpeth three-man effort, when coming home in 11th place, posting a time of 13m08s. Second leg runner Ryan Davies got them up to fourth with his second leg clocking of 12m18s, which was seventh fastest on the day, and Bertie Marr clocked an eighth fastest of the day 12m19s on the final leg, only just losing out to fellow North East rivals Darlington Harriers in the final strides.
In 2017, Morpeth Harriers Under 17 Men’s squad had won the gold medals at the Championships. On Sunday, with only Daniel Melling remaining from the successful trio this time round, they finished seventh, missing out on medals by just around a minute.
Melling ran the first leg, posting a time of 12m10s, as he came home in eleventh place.
Second leg runner Rowan Bennett, enjoying his first Northern Championship for Morpeth, following his early summer transfer from Elswick Harriers, very skilfully moved the squad up a further two places on leg two, producing the legs sixth fastest time of 12m23s.
Unfortunately, the faster finishers at the head of the field in the final third leg proved just a little too far ahead for Morpeth’s Tom Balsdon. His efforts, however, saw him take the squad up to a final placing of seventh, and only a minute adrift of the minor medals, with his eighth fastest clocking of the leg of 11m57s, making him his squads fastest performer.
Although they are going through some rebuilding processes at the moment, Morpeth Harriers Senior Men’s squad still managed to produce some excellent performances in their six-stage Relay, with each leg being a distance of approximately 6.4k.
Their A team finished an excellent seventh of the 140 teams who faced the starter, and their B team were 25th, which means that both teams effectively finished amongst the qualifiers for the English National Relays, due to be held on the usual course at Sutton Coldfield in two weeks’ time.
Whether the club decide two send two teams remains to be decided, and Team Manager David Swinburne will make his decision based upon the likely strengths of squads likely to be at his disposal.
On Sunday things went well, especially after a very good first leg by the A team’s fastest performer Sam Hancox, who posted an individual time of 19m46s, which saw him finish fourth, and only a mere 16 seconds adrift of eventual bronze medallists, and early leaders Liverpool Harriers, boosted by the day’s fastest performer, former English National Cross-Country Champion Charlie Hulson, formerly with Sale Harriers.
Hancox, showed in his performance that he is more than a match for some of the North’s best athletes, and has a great future in the sport.
Meanwhile Morpeth Harriers Senior Men’s B team were led off well by Ross Floyd, who had his club in 28th place overall with his clocking of 21m11s, and as third amongst a large number of B teams.
The excellent start, although saw the Morpeth A team slip back to seventh on the second leg courtesy of Taylor Glover’s 21m20s, still saw them not far adrift of the medals.