Nearly 1,200 determined athletes descended on wildest rural Northumberland last weekend for the third in the series of Start Fitness North Eastern Harrier League meetings.
It was a return for the league to the normally splendid setting of Wallington Hall. However, the heavy rain that had prevailed during the previous days meant heavy going for all, including the ever-willing marshalls and helpers from host club Morpeth Harriers.
They managed to work throughout the murky afternoon to ensure the 10-event programme was completed before dusk really set in.
The club also achieved some good results from the competitive angle, with the best of those mainly coming from their male contingent.
An excellent team result for Morpeth came from their Under 13 Boys, who were first team on the day, winning by ten points from local rivals Alnwick Harriers.
They were led home by Ross Charlton, who defied his Fast pack 100 second handicap to finish fourth overall and second fastest on the day, one place ahead of clubmate Daniel Dixon, who was third fastest overall.
Completing the excellent Morpeth winning tally was Thomas Cunningham, who was 14th from the fast pack and eighth fastest on the day.
Another Morpeth Harrier finisher in this event was Adam Kirby, who was 47th from the slow pack.
A good Morpeth Harriers team result came courtesy of their Under 15 Boys, who managed to finish second behind a very strong Tynedale Harriers performance. They were led home by Cameron Kirk (4th, fast pack).
Second home from the club was Taylor Glover, who unfortunately is still a couple of days away from eligibility following his recent transfer from Blyth. He finished sixth from the fast pack, posting the second fastest time overall.
Third fastest was Morpeth’s Kieran Hedley, who was the club’s second official counter, finishing in ninth place from the fast pack.
Completing the Morpeth scoring count was Jamie Duguid, who finished 16th from the slow pack.
Other finishers for Morpeth in this event were Jordan Hedgecock (21st, slow pack), Adam Shewry (25th, fast pack), Cameron Dick (31st, slow pack), Joe Dowd (33rd, fast pack), Connor Marshall (37th, fast pack), Alex Cunningham (39th, fast pack), Josh Burton (43rd, fast pack), Lewis James (45th, slow pack) and Philip Kirby (46th, fast pack).
Morpeth Harrier Scott Beattie clocked the fastest time for his excellent individual win in the Under 17 Men’s two-lap event.
Clubmate James Young finished in 16th place from the fast pack.
There was strong competition in the Division One section of the Senior Men’s event and Morpeth Harriers could only manage to finish as sixth team on the day, despite having an excellent turnout of 18 runners, including their six required for team count.
On the plus side, however, the individual performances of Carl Avery and Ross Floyd are to be applauded as they managed to finish seventh and 14th respectively from the fast pack, posting the day’s first and second fastest times, having given two-and-a-half and five minutes start to the majority of the field, on a very tough and demanding three-lap course.
Unfortunately, on this occasion, the supporting scoring Morpeth performances behind Avery and Floyd came from slightly further down the field, courtesy of Paul Waterston (110th, medium pack), Sam Hancox (117th, fast pack), Mike Winter (125th, slow pack), and Alistair MacDonald (130th, slow pack).
Other Morpeth Harriers Senior Men in action were Steve Haswell (137th, slow pack), Geoff Whitman (146th, medium pack), Rob Hancox (156th, medium pack), Phil Walker (158th, medium pack), Mark Snowball (160th, medium pack), Peter Scaife (230th, slow pack), Richard Kirby (253rd, slow pack), Andrew Richardson (336th, slow pack), James McFetrich (365th, slow pack), Paul Bellingham (381st, slow pack), Richard Sill (384th, slow pack) and Mark Crosby (415th, slow pack).
Making her Harrier League debut for Morpeth Harriers in the Senior Women’s event, Jo Carruthers managed to secure herself an individual bronze medal for finishing third overall from the slow pack.
She led her club to third team place in Division Two behind Alnwick and Wallsend, with further team support coming from Emma Holt, who once again posted the Fastest Senior Women’s time of the day when finishing sixth from the fast pack.
Jane Briggs was third counter for the club in 77th place from the medium pack and the club’s scoring count was completed by Kate Chapman, who finished in 80th place from the medium pack.
Other Morpeth Harriers Senior Women’s performers were Lindsay Turnbull (93rd, medium pack), Lorna MacDonald (94th, fast pack) and Claire Bruce (225th, slow pack).
For the second week running, Morpeth Harriers’ very own little dynamo Holly Peck produced easily the fastest time in the Under 13 Girls’ event.
Running from the fast pack, she again worked her way through the masses in the 54-strong field, to finish fourth, again having given 100 seconds start to over 50 per cent of the field.
Also running for Morpeth in this event was relative newcomer Nicole Teasdale, who gave very good account for herself in finishing 10th from the slow pack. This performance sees her promoted to the fast pack for the rest of the forthcoming season.
Unfortunately, Peck and Teasdale’s excellent efforts were unsupported team-wise for their club.
Another unsupported effort for Morpeth Harriers was that of Gracie Hufton, who was the club’s lone finisher in the Under 15 Girls’ event, where she placed 19th from the slow pack.
Morpeth Harriers did manage to muster a team, however, for the Under 17/Under 20 Women’s event, run over the medium and large-lap sections of the course.
They finished as fourth of four complete teams, being led home by Under 20 athlete Alison Brown, who finished 16th from the fast pack, posting the 11th fastest overall time of the day.
Good supporting team counts came from Charlotte Jewell (21st, fast pack) and Abby Sheldon (25th, fast pack).
They were 15th and 16th fastest overall in a total field of 32 finishing athletes that also included Morpeth’s Amber Cormack and Louise Brett, who finished in 28th and 29th places respectively from the fast pack.
In the non-scoring Under 11 Boys’ and Girls’ events, once again respectively, it was Bobby Stone and Rhiannon Hedley who led the Morpeth Harriers contingent.
Stone finished fifth in the Boys’ event, however was very nearly caught by clubmate Dylan Davies, who performed superbly to finish sixth.
Next home for Morpeth Harriers was another Dylan, this time bearing the surname of Gooding, who finished an excellent eighth.
Callum Rowell finished in 13th place, followed by James Tilley, who came home in 24th spot.
Completing a hat-trick of Dylan’s for Morpeth Harriers was Dylan Walker, who finished in 30th place, and rounding off the club’s Boys’ results was Aaron Haldane, who finished 38th.
Rhiannon Hedley was Morpeth’s first home in the Girls’ event, finishing fifth overall in a total field of 49.
Also running well for Morpeth Harriers in the Under 11 Girls’ event was Amy Lott, who finished in 21st place.
On behalf of the North Eastern Harrier League, Morpeth Harriers would wish to thank the National Trust and all of the willing staff at Wallington Hall for their outstanding assistance in both the preparation and execution of the event on the day.
Also many thanks to the marshalls and course preparers for their time in ensuring the event went well.
Last but not least, many thanks go to Clerk of Course Kevin Bray and Course Planner Kevin Flannery for their excellent expertise in pulling together the whole operation on behalf of Morpeth Harriers.
Five athletes from Morpeth Harriers made the journey to Liverpool on Saturday to compete in the first meeting of the British Cross Challenge Series, which also included the European Trials for the forthcoming Championships, being held in Bulgaria on Saturday, December 13.
Unfortunately, none of those athletes will figure among the selector’s final decisions, despite some good performances in the trying and testing conditions faced at Sefton Park.
In the Senior Men’s event, won by Kilbarchan’s Callum Hawkins, Jonny Taylor eventually finished in 10th place, only 20 seconds adrift of the winner and after showing some early prominence.
Also prominent in the early stages was Taylor’s Morpeth club colleague Nick Swinburn. However, Swinburn eventually faded from the picture to finish 39th.
Morpeth Harriers third male athlete in action was Richard Morrell. Again after a prominent start, he eventually finished in 55th place.
There were 520 finishers in the Senior Men’s event.
Morpeth’s Laura Weightman was one who was tipped to have an outside chance of a European place going into this contest. However, in a very tough race, she could only finish 12th in a 225-strong Senior Women’s field.
Laura’s club colleague Ashley Gibson showed some early promise in the event; however, an unfortunate ankle injury sustained during proceedings severely curtailed her chances, as she struggled home in 20th place.
The Senior Women were led home by Charnwood’s Gemma Steel.