Harrier Ali misses out in defence of trophy
With no mass participation events allowed at present and much media coverage of whether weekly Parkruns will resume nationally in June, athletics action has focussed largely on Track and Field meetings where competitors are aware of the timetable of events in advance and reduced numbers help facilitate social distancing.
Last Wednesday’s North East Grand Prix meeting at Monkton Stadium, Jarrow featured the annual running of the Jimmy Hedley Trophy. Won by Morpeth’s Ali Douglas in 2020, a strong field of ten runners assembled, headed by Chris Perkins of Birtley AC. Running a new personal best, U17 Perkins won in a time of 1m 54.88s but was chased all the way from the bell by Douglas who was determined not to give up his title easily. Morpeth teenager Ben Waterfield, in his first serious outing of the year, was 10th.
Earlier heats of the 800m saw brother and sister Ralph and Tabbie Robson both run new personal bests in their respective races, with Joe Dixon 3rd taking a new pb of 2:14:81 in his.
Perhaps the most notable performance of the night for Morpeth was by Under 23 athlete Connor Marshall in the 3000m. Winning in a time of 9:09:41, all of 52 seconds faster than he had previously run, Marshall was chased home by colleague Will DeVere-Owen who took some 7 seconds off his own previous best time. It was a Morpeth one-two-three when Joe Anderson placed third.
Senior Woman Tayla Murdy knocked a whole 12 seconds off her previous best 3000m performance in her race and Millie Breese ran the second fastest time of the night for an Under 17 Woman in hers.
The fastest 3000m heat of the night was won by Gateshead’s National Cross Country Champion of 2020 Calum Johnson, who lined up against no less than five Morpeth Harriers. Sam Hancox was the fastest of the five, placing 5th in 8:36:84 with four Harriers next in: Ross Floyd in 9th, Bertie Marr 10th, Ryan Davies 11th and Andrew Lawrence 12h.
The previous weekend had seen the first round of this year’s North East Youth Development League for Young Athletes. Division 1 Champions in 2019, it was clear that a full year without competition has left its mark, with few of the championship squad remaining and a good number of athletes testing themselves in Track and Field action for the first time.
Morpeth were only able to finish fifth of the six competing teams. A strong Harrogate squad laid down early markers for the remaining two fixtures, winning by over 112 points from runners-up North Shields Polytechnic Harriers.
All credit then to those who did take part, with victories by U/17s Will De Vere-Owen and Liam Roche in the 800m matched by Bertie Marr and Ryan Davies in the 1500m, Ed Gardiner winning both the Hammer and Discus, and Martha Hiscox the B string 800m. In the U/15s, Joe Close and Finn Tilmouth were double winners in the 800m. The U/13 girls and boys were new to an event of this nature, but the handful taking part – notably shot putt winners Molly Roche and Megan Potrac – kept Morpeth in contention.