The rain relents for road relays

Morpeth Harriers round-up

Early morning torrential rain gave way to glorious sunshine in time for the start of the annual English Road Running Association National 6 and 4-Stage Road Relays, held respectively for Men and Women, at the traditional venue of Sutton Park, Sutton Coldfield, near Birmingham on Saturday, writes George Patterson.

Following the rain, the only obstacle that runners needed to master were the autumn leaves, which made certain parts of the course negotiable with care.

While Northern clubs were still out in force, it was a day very much dominated by the south, with Aldershot and Farnham enjoying the richest of the spoils by taking both championships on offer, and their Women taking the title for the eighth consecutive occasion.

Aldershot’s Women were boosted by the appearances of internationals Steph Twell, who ran the Women’s fastest time of 14m04s for their 4.315k leg, Lily Partridge and Emilia Gorecka, second and third fastest with 14m07s and 14m09s.

Among the fastest times in the Women’s event was Morpeth Harrier Ashley Gibson, who ran a superb fifth fastest 14m29s, which had her club in second place on the opening leg and only five seconds adrift of early leaders Windsor Slough and Eton.

Morpeth Harriers Women eventually finished 19th in 64m10s, with further legs being run by Delyth James (16m01s), Emma Holt (15m44s) and Under 20 athlete Alison Brown (17m56s).

They were also sixth Northern team and the first of the three North East clubs on show, with Birtley AC back in 34th place in 67m21s and North Shields Poly finishing 40th in 69m41s.

A total of 60 complete teams contested the Women’s event.

Morpeth Harriers had two teams competing in the Men’s 6 Stage contest run over a distance 0f 5.847k for each leg.

With a lot of their usual key runners missing, the Morpeth A-team performed very creditably to finish in 12th place overall and were third home from the Northern clubs behind third-placed Sale Harriers and fifth-placed Leeds City.

Sale Harriers were actually the North’s only medallists on a day of Southern dominance.

Morpeth Harriers were also first home of the four competing North East clubs, with Gateshead Harriers 37th, North Shields Poly 59th and Tyne Bridge 68th.

In fact, those other three North East squads were also beaten by the Morpeth Harriers B-team, who finished 35th overall, and were also fifth B-team in the contest.

The Morpeth Harriers A-team began excellently, with Andy Wiles making his national debut for them, following his transfer from New Marske, and he showed his class when finishing 13th, clocking 17m46s, which was to be the club’s fastest on the day.

Leg Two was the pressure leg and no one felt it more so than Morpeth’s Karl Taylor, having his first A-team appearance at national level, as he surrendered no less than 15 places, despite clocking 18m58s.

He was chased down by experienced faster runners around him; however, he did keep going without an ounce of panic and handed over to Morpeth’s third-leg runner Ian Hudspith, still in close contention with those in front of him.

The experience and running skills of the veteran Hudspith clearly played their part well as he chased his opponents down to claw back all of the places lost on the previous leg.

Morpeth’s fourth leg runner Lewis Timmins certainly made hay while the sun shone, as he took his club to their highest placing of the day of tenth, with his clocking of 18m07s.

Another national debutant for Morpeth Harriers was Kevin Calvert, formerly with Sunderland Harriers.

Calvert did his level best to stay in contention as he got round his fifth leg in 18m50s, although he did surrender a couple of places.

Nathan Shrubb, on the final leg for the Morpeth A-team, tried to get them back into the top ten, however he was forced to settle for the final placing of 12th, despite his enthusiastic clocking of 18m49s, which saw them finish with a total time of 110m19s, around three-and-a-half minutes adrift of winners Aldershot A and, ironically, only two-and-a-half minutes adrift of a medal placing.

Morpeth Harriers’ fastest B-team performer was Ady Whitwam, who clocked an excellent 18m22s on their second leg, which at that stage gave the squad their day’s highest placing of 33rd and placed the athlete inside the top 100 performers on the day, which obviously gave him some individual satisfaction on a day when medals were to prove elusive.

Other B team performances came from Ryan Stephenson (18m46s), Elliot Kelly (19m56s), Thomas Straughan (19m16s), Jordan Scott (20m09s) and Ian Harding (18m29s), which gave the squad a finishing time of 114m58s.

A total of 77 complete teams contested the Men’s event.

Afterwards, Morpeth Harriers Men’s Team Manager David Swinburne commented that he was very pleased with his squad’s dual efforts, especially those who had been called in at the last minute to replace some of his more experienced runners who had become unexpectedly unavailable.

In hindsight, he had recognised that one or two tactical changes could have brought a slightly better placing for the A-team, but still felt the result achieved on a day of high calibre competition was one to be justly pleased with, and very much proud of.

There was also competitive action at Sutton Park on Sunday, when the England Road Running Association held their annual Young Athletes Road Relays.

Morpeth Harriers’ sole representatives were their Under 17 Men, who placed 20th in their 3 x 3.81k event.

Nathan Cox got them off to a steady start, by coming home in 22nd place in 12m28s, which was only 48 seconds adrift of early leaders Birchfield Harriers, revelling on their home patch and only 36 seconds adrift of the medals.

Although Morpeth’s second-leg runner Adam Weightman dropped two places, he didn’t lose a lot of ground with his 13m15s clocking.

Third and final leg runner James Young, making his national debut for Morpeth Harriers following his transfer from Blyth Running Club ran an identical time to Weightman and took them to their final placing.

That placing saw them as ninth from the North, behind City of Sheffield, who placed fourth.

At the end, Morpeth Harriers’ Under 17 Men were two minutes and 53 seconds adrift of a possible medal.

Forty-eight complete teams took part in the Under 17 Men’s event, and the club’s fastest performer Nathan Cox was 39th equal fastest in the event.

Morpeth Harriers Mongolian International Serod Batochir, just missed out on a podium placing in the Men’s Marathon at the Asian Championships, held in Incheon, South Korea last week.

Batochir was always up with the leaders until he reached around two mile from home. At that point, he felt unwell, dropped off the pace somewhat and was forced to struggle to the finish line in 2hrs13m21s.

Although he collapsed at the finish line, he eventually came round following medical attention, clearly disappointed he had missed out on a medal.

A total of 36 runners took part in the second in the series of Morpeth Harriers Young Athletes Road Championships for Under 13 Boys and Girls, which took place on the 1.33mile circuit round Lancaster Park on the evening of Monday 29th September 2014.

Once again, organisers and runners alike were blessed with excellent conditions, as the late summer mild weather continued its welcome stay.

Ross Charlton and Holly Peck certainly made the most of those conditions in their respective Championship victories.

Charlton won with 37 seconds to spare in the Boys’ race, as he got round the circuit in an excellent 7m54s, thus continuing his present good run of form, which saw him achieve a much-prized podium place in the Junior Great North Run earlier in the month.

For Peck, in the Girls’ race, her victory was equally impressive, as she clocked 8m49s, a time that would have seen her finish as third in the Boys’ event, winning by a margin of 63 seconds over her closest rival.

Silver medals in the Boys’ and Girls’ events went to Daniel Dixon (8m31s) and Isabelle McCormack (9m52s).

The bronze medals went to Sam Bradley (8m55s), who just managed to out-sprint fourth-placed Josh Nelson in the Boys’ race, and Lily Heaton (9m59s) in the Girls’ race.

Other results as follows:-

Boys: Louis Eke (5th) 9m37s, Robert Eadington (6th) 9m40s, Ollie Waddington (7th) 10m03s, Jake Lloyd (8th) 10m08s, Kyle Hawkins (9th) 10m10s, Finlay Deakin (11th) 10m20s, Callum Woodcock (12th) 10m29s, Sam Ray (13th) 10m32s, Luke Haxell (14th) 10m43s, Josh Gair (15th) 10m55s, Angus Stout (16th) 11m00s, Dan Lloyd (17th) 11m15s, Adam Ormston (18th) 11m34s, Angus Winton (19th) 12m05s, Craig Fairbairn (20th) 12m19s.

Girls: Amy Duggan (4th) 10m50s, Kirsty Davison (5th) 10m52s, Faye Smith (6th) 11m13s, Grace Bathgate (7th) 11m16s, Lauren Goose (8th) 11m37s, Charlotte Bruce (9th) 11m44s, Megan Watson (10th) 11m46s. Nicole Teasdale (11th) 11m52s, Lottie Dwyer (12th) 11m59s, Breeanne Moody (13th) 12m10s, Emma Watson (14th) 12m11s, Ella Maley (15th) 12m17s, Jennie Bennett (16th) 13m56s.

Seven athletes from the youngest age groups from Morpeth Harriers took part in the annual Minors Cross Country events held at Bedewell Park, Hebburn, on Saturday, which were splendidly organised by Jarrow and Hebburn AC.

Dylan Davies was the club’s best performer on the day. He finished third in the Year 6 Boys’ event, only five seconds adrift of victory.

Other good performances from Morpeth Harriers in this age group came from Bobby Stone (6th) and Elliot Cummings (12th).

In the Year 6 Girls’ event, Rhiannon Hedley of Morpeth finished eleventh and club-mate Amy Lott was just behind in 13th place.

The Year 5 Boys’ event saw Morpeth Harriers Callum Rowell and James Tilley finish in eighth and 18th places respectively.

Recently signed from Wallsend Harriers, Paul Brown made his debut in a blue and white vest on Sunday, when he finished 25th in the 1,200-plus strong field at the annual Great Cumbrian Run Half Marathon in Carlisle.

Brown clocked a time of 84m18s and was sixth in the Over 40 Veteran Men’s category.

Three Morpeth Harriers took part in the annual Kielder 10k Road Race on Saturday, which had a record number of more than 800 participants.

First home from the club was Mark Snowball, who finished in an excellent 14th place in 39m17s.

He was followed home by clubmates Andrew Flatman and Graeme Leathard, who finished in 47th and 89th places with respective times of 43m54s and 46m44s.

Andrew was 47th in the Over 40 Men’s category, and Graeme was 79th in the Over 50 Men’s section.

Seven Morpeth Harriers also took part in the following day’s Kielder Marathon, which attracted over 1,000 runners.

Hamish McAllister-Williams was the first of those to cross the finish line, when he placed 71st in a time of 3hrs37m22s.

Second home from the club was Craig Gair, who finished 96th in 3hrs43m48s.

Other finishers from the club were as follows: Andrew Richardson (165th) 3hrs58m35s, James McFetrich (182nd) 4hrs01m31s, Andrew Stephenson (199th) 4hrs04m09s, Jane Briggs (261st) 4hrs13m04s and Andrew Davidson (335th) 4hrs27m16s .

For Andrew Stephenson, this was his second marathon within seven days, having competed also in the Baxter’s sponsored Loch Ness event the previous week.