Briggs provides a home winner in Morpeth 10k
Morpeth Harriers were delighted with the successful return of their 10k race for 2021 at the weekend, which saw runners once again tackling the traditional two lap course through Tranwell Woods and Tranwell Village.
Sadly, if inevitably, cancelled like so many other sporting fixtures in 2020, this year’s event had had to be moved to a Sunday morning in September from its traditional slot on a midweek August evening.
With an understandable nervousness about returning to competition for many runners, and an unfortunate clash with the Druridge Bay Fun Run the same morning, numbers were clearly down on previous years.
“We knew the numbers taking part would be down from previous years and understand the concerns that many still have about returning to competition,” said Harriers Chairman David Swinburne, “but the priority for us was always about getting an event on this year.
"We haven’t been able to put on the New Year’s Day race for the last two years and lost the Summer 10k last year, so we felt it was paramount that we were able to offer something both for our own members and also members of the North East running community.”
The club was grateful too for the support of the many individuals and organisations who enabled the race to take place and have stood by it over the years: Ken Beattie and Morpeth Town, who provided the race HQ and post race presentation facilities; Pegasus RDA, who offered the use of their toilet facilities; Coca Cola, who provided the welcome post-race Smartwater; and long-term sponsors Stanton Hall Gardens and Phil Walker Wealth Management.
At the front of the race, a leading group composed of Conrad Franks from Gateshead Harriers, Matthew Briggs of Morpeth and 2018 winner Tom Straughan quickly established itself. The conclusion of the first lap of the race saw Straughan tail off.
In the end, a well-executed run by Briggs saw him get away from Franks as the route climbed up the Whalton Road so by the end the winning margin was some 20 seconds, Briggs finishing in an impressive time of 31:51 in front of his highly delighted coach, Jim Alder MBE. Straughan was third in 32:54.
There were two more noteworthy runs by athletes in blue and white vests in the women’s race, with an in form Cat Macdonald (who had set a new personal best for the same distance in Scotland the previous week) shaking off the attentions of Jane Hodgson, who has been first home on many occasions over the years, to win in a time of 36:37 with Hodgson second in 37:37. Imogen Bungay of Elswick was third home (39:53).
With three to count for the team prizes, it was no surprise to find that both Morpeth’s men’s and women’s teams had picked up the honours, with Over 50 Lee Bennett having another outstanding run to finish 7th overall (34:33) in support of Briggs and Straughan. The margin of victory in the women’s team race was closer, Cat Macdonald’s older sister Lorna third counter in 43:38, with Morpeth just squeezing out second team home, Elswick Harriers.