Harriers welcome return to roads and parkruns

With the easing of lockdown restrictions, road racing in its traditional form returned to the North East last Thursday with the running of the Sunderland 5k, hosted once again by Sunderland Harriers and incorporating this year both the NE and the NCAA Road Championships.

Monday, 26th July 2021, 12:45 pm
Morpeth Harriers all smiles after the Sunderland 5k, with fifth place Ross Floyd far right next to young Joe Dixon.

On a cloudy but humid evening the two lap course round the fishing lakes at the Silksworth Sports Complex again incorporated two separate events, the earlier Women’s and Men Over 50 race, followed half an hour later by the Senior Men and Over 40s.

Morpeth’s Cat Macdonald, now back in the North East after a few years resident in Scotland, recorded an excellent victory by some ten seconds in the women’s race with a time of 17 minutes 28 seconds for the 5k course. Sophie Cowper of Rotherham AC was 2nd in 17m 39s with Molly Pace of Jesmond Joggers 3rd in 18m.

Over 50 veteran Lee Bennett was 3rd overall in 16m 53s in a strong category, with the race won by Darlington Harrier John Clifford in 16m 12s. Behind Bennett, Alistair Macdonald had a good run to finish 28th in 18m 44s behind daughter Cat. Evergreen Over 65s Gavin Bayne and Dave Nicholson were 44th and 57th respectively with times of 19m 28s and 20m 29s.

The Senior Men’s race was won by Carl Smith of Tyne Bridge Harriers with a strong showing of 14m 42s with Sunderland Harrier Liam Taylor 2nd (14m 52s) and Dave Green of North Shields Polytechnic Harriers 3rd (14m 56s).

First home for Morpeth was Ross Floyd, 5th in 14m 58s, with Tom Straughan, in his first outing for a while, 12th in 15m 32s.

Straughan was chased every inch of the way by Year 11 KEVI student Joe Dixon, younger brother of triathlete Daniel, whose 15m 35s was a big personal best and left Joe with a deserved huge smile on his face.

There were some seven other Morpeth finishers, with Andy Lawrence the best of them in 21st (15m 47s).

Sixteen Morpeth Harriers took part in the fifth and penultimate North Eastern Grand Prix Meeting at Jarrow’s Monkton Stadium the previous evening. The majority of athletes competed in the 1500m events, and Morpeth very nearly produced a winner in Alistair Douglass, who lost out by just under two seconds to Blyth’s Josh Fiddaman in the fastest of the three- and three-quarter lap events.

Douglass, who two nights previously, had got under four minutes for the distance for the first time, managed to improve on his best by a further second, as he crossed in 3m58.23s.

Saturday saw the long anticipated return of popular Parkrun events nationally, with the 5k time trials back on at local spots in Newbiggin, Druridge Bay and Blyth.

As expected there were big numbers at all events, although the 225 finishers at the most popular local fixture at Druridge Bay couldn’t match the 500 who took part on the Town Moor in Newcastle or the 400 at Whitley Bay.

The Druridge Bay Parkrun saw Lancaster University based Morpeth Harrier Matty Briggs first home in 16m 34s with teenager Liam Roche next home in 17m 5s. Briggs’s first place was matched at Blyth, where Connor Marshall was first back in 15m 59s.