THOMAS Cunningham, younger brother of Alex, certainly enjoyed his first taste of proper Start Fitness North Eastern Harrier League action on Saturday at Cardinal Hume School, Wrekenton, writes George Patterson.
He led Morpeth Harriers Under 13 Boys home to second place on the day and to a well-deserved team title for the season.
Cunningham, who had run all of his previous races in the Under 11 Try It Cross-Country events and had always finished prominently, was certainly undaunted as he finished fifth overall from the Slow Pack, and 21st-equal-fastest time in the field of 60 finishers, some of whom were nearly two years older than him, including his older brother, who also shared in the team count.
Ahead of the older Cunningham was Joe Dowd, who again proved outstanding, by clocking the day’s second-fastest time when finishing ninth, running from the Fast Pack, which gave 80 seconds’ start to Slow Pack runners.
Alex was obviously overjoyed to share team glory with his younger sibling, when he finished in 24th place from the Fast Pack and posting the day’s 10th-fastest time.
Other good efforts on the day for Morpeth Harriers in the Under 13 Boys’ event came from Cameron Dick (32nd, Fast Pack, 14th fastest), Daniel Dixon (34th, Fast Pack, 16th fastest) and Wilf Campbell (37th, Fast Pack, 19th fastest).
Amid the joy of the Under 13 Boys’ League win, there was also bitter disappointment for Morpeth Harriers, when their Senior Men lost out on a Division 1 title, mainly due to a lack of commitment from other Senior Men club members, who chose not to turn out on the day, to give support to the excellent efforts achieved throughout the season by some of the club’s more established A-team athletes, who were quite deservedly taking a weekend off after a very heavy programme of activity, involving some success at major championships.
Nevertheless, one of those A-team athletes, Carl Avery, was very hungry for action and success if he could manage it.
He led Morpeth Harriers to 10th place on the day, which unfortunately relegated them to third place overall for the season in Division One, behind winners Durham City, who were second on the day, with Tyne Bridge claiming second place, by virtue of third place on the day.
Winners on the day in Division One were Sunderland Harriers, who managed to escape relegation by virtue of the victory.
Avery, running from the Fast Pack, finished 23rd overall and was the fourth fastest on the day.
Further excellent Morpeth team support came from Mick Thomsen (76th, Medium Pack), Sam Hancox (135th, Fast Pack), Jim Alder (154th, Slow Pack), Geoff Whitman (196th, Medium Pack) and Rob Hancox (223rd, Medium Pack).
Also turning out on the day for the Morpeth Senior Men were Bill Tilley (284th, Slow Pack), Phillip Caldwell (285th, Fast Pack) and Andrew Stephenson (397th, Slow Pack).
Much credit goes to Sam Hancox, who has competed in all six Harrier League meetings, plus the Sherman Cup competition this season, in addition to North Eastern, Northern, English National, and UK Inter Counties Cross Country Championships, showing a true clubman spirit throughout all, a superb effort from one still so young.
Adam Weightman of Morpeth Harriers had an excellent win from the Slow Pack in the Under 17 Men’s event and he led his club to third team place on the day, with support coming from Phil Winkler (9th, Fast Pack), and Joe Elder (20th, Fast Pack).
That placing saw them finish second team in the Under 17 Men’s Grand Prix for the season.
Weightman and Winkler shared identical finishing times, both third fastest on the day out of 29 runners.
Fourth place on the day saw Morpeth Harriers Under 15 Boys finish as third cumulatively for the season.
They were led home by Jacob Hopkins, who certainly produced one of his best runs of the winter, when he finished in seventh place from the Fast Pack, posting the day’s fifth fastest overall time out of 33 on the course.
Not far behind, Jacob was his club colleague Kieran Hedley, who ran well to finish 10th from the Fast Pack, who posted the eighth-fastest time.
Closing the Morpeth Harriers scoring count was Sam Williams, who finished in 19th place from the Fast Pack and was 12th fastest overall.
Other Morpeth Harriers performers in the Under 15 Boys’ event were Adam Shewry (24th, Fast Pack), Lewis James (25th, Slow Pack), Josh Burton (31st, Fast Pack) and Alex Dunlop (32nd, Slow Pack).
Charlotte Jewell was Morpeth Harriers lone finisher in the combined Under 17/Under 20 Women’s event.
Jewell competed well from the Fast Pack, to finish in eighth place and as sixth fastest overall.
She was also fifth Under 17 finisher.
Morpeth Harriers placed as fourth team cumulatively for the season in this age group.
Running from the Slow Pack, Jessica Young-Rogers led Morpeth Harriers Under 13 Girls home to fourth team place on the day by finishing eighth.
Giving good team support were Holly Peck, who was returning to the scene of her excellent victory a few week’s previous and Gracie Hufton, in her second Harrier League outing in a Morpeth vest.
Peck finished 24th from the Fast Pack and was eighth fastest overall. Hufton finished 27th from the Slow Pack.
This result sees Morpeth Harriers in 12th place cumulatively for the season in this age group.
Despite a recent heavy programme competitively, Morpeth Harrier Emma Holt turned out to defend her crown in the Senior Women’s Grand Prix with distinction.
Holt finished fourth from the Fast Pack, posting the day’s fastest time by some margin.
Also having a good run was her club colleague Jane Hodgson, who successfully posted the day’s third fastest time when finishing 14th from the Fast Pack.
Hodgson also finished fourth in the Senior Women’s individual Grand Prix for the season.
Once again, Abby Sheldon was Morpeth Harriers’ only athlete in the Under 15 Girls’ event.
Sheldon’s performance saw her finish 12th and she posted the eighth fastest time from the Fast Pack.
Finally, Morpeth Harriers had three competitors taking part in the Under 11’s Try It Cross Country event.
Finishing an excellent 16th in a field of 100 finishers, Rhiannon Hedley was third girl home.
Morpeth Harriers other finishers were Harry Hoggan, who placed 43rd, and Joshua Williams, who finished 63rd.
Several athletes from the club did well in the Individual Grand Prix standings for the season.
Not surprisingly, Joe Dowd has won the Under 13 Boys’ section. Alex Cunningham also did well by finishing ninth behind Dowd.
In the Under 15 Girls’ section, Abby Sheldon is seventh.
The club have two athletes with good performances cumulatively in the Under 15 Boys’ section. Kieran Hedley is sixth and Jacob Hopkins is eighth.
In the Under 17/Under 20 Women’s section, Charlotte Jewell is sixth and is either third or fourth Under 17, which is still to be confirmed.
Phillip Winkler and Ryan Green are third and fifth respectively in the Under 17 Men’s section and in the Senior Men’s section, Richard Morrell leads the performance table, with Ade Whitwam and Thomas Straughan in fifth and ninth places respectively.
REPRESENTING the North of England, Guildford-based Morpeth Harrier Ashley Gibson returned to the scene of her excellent English National Cross Country performance last month on Saturday, when she finished sixth in the Senior Women’s event at the Home Countries International Cross Country Championships, held at Wollaton Park, Nottingham.
Gibson finished just under a minute adrift of race winner Birchfield Harrier Catherine Blew, who was representing the Midlands, and she led the North to second team place behind an England select squad.
Also competing at the event was her Morpeth Harriers club colleague Ady Whitwam, who was representing the Army for a Combined Services Select Squad.
Finishing 21st overall, Whitwam was third counter for a squad which finished third behind an England select squad.
KELSO-based Morpeth Harrier Bob Marshall was easily the club’s best individual performer, when he secured an emphatic victory in the Over 65 Men’s 6k race at the British Masters Cross Country Championships, held at a very blustery Tollcross Park, in Glasgow on Saturday.
Marshall won with 37 seconds to spare over Oxford City’s former International Roy Treadwell, in an excellent finishing time of 24m09s.
Third place in the race went to Michael Mann of Dulwich Runners, who clocked 24m55s
Competing in the same race was Marshall’s Morpeth Harriers colleague Walter Ryder, who was very unlucky to miss out on medals by a few seconds, when he finished fifth in the Over 75 Men’s category in 30m36s.
There were also medals won by Morpeth Harriers in the Men’s 35 to 65 8k race.
Michael Thomsen, Phil Walker and Paul Waterston combined as A-team, which meant Walker and Waterston having to drop down an age category to compete against younger opposition
In doing so, they combined to win a set of bronze team medals for the club, with Thomsen leading them home as sixth in the Over 35 age group in 28m51s.
That performance itself may lead to Thomsen receiving another Scottish International call up, this being his second; his first was in the Veterans Home International in Cardiff at the end of last year.
Walker finished as 8th Over 45 Man in a time of 29m10s, and Waterston completed the count for bronze medals for Morpeth, when finishing as 10th Over 45 Veteran Man in 29m18s, four places exactly behind Walker.
Another Morpeth Harrier competing in this event was Archie Jenkins, who was 18th Over 60 finisher in a time of 35m37s.
A TRULY outstanding run in her very first Under 13 Girls’ North Eastern Harrier League appearance by Holly Peck at Wrekenton in early February, certainly caught the Morpeth Harriers judge’s eyes when they considered selections for the Benfield Motor Group Athlete of the Month for February 2014.
Running from the Slow Pack, with an 80-second handicap advantage over most of her rivals, Holly quite literally ran away from the rest of the field, to cross the finish line in first place and with a winning margin of 34 seconds over her closest rival.
Having only just become 11 in December, Holly was certainly the youngest in the 57-strong field of finishers and in some cases she was competing against girls nearly two years older than herself.
The added fact that she was fifth fastest overall in the race is further testimony to the excellent depth of her performance, and although the judges had other prominent athletes for consideration, they felt that Holly’s performance fully justified her being the chosen candidate.