Morpeth Harriers field nine teams in Woodcock Relays
Morpeth Harriers put out no less than nine teams – more than any of its North East rivals – in the Norman Woodcock Relays on a blustery Saturday lunchtime in Gosforth Park.
Hosted by Elswick Harriers, there were some 76 teams entered on this occasion, with Morpeth the existing holders from the competition’s last staging in 2018.
The hard fought first leg saw a terrific run by Ponteland High School student Joe Anderson, who led most of the way and was only pipped over the last hundred yards by runners from Sunderland Harriers and finishing in a time of 8:06..
For Morpeth, Anderson was followed home by KEVI teenager Ryan Davies in 8:24 with A team Senior Mark Snowball a few seconds behind (8:32) and B team lead off Anthony Janetta chasing him home.
The placings changed on the second leg however, with most clubs choosing to put out their female runner on the second leg.Cat Macdonald clocked 8:59 was the fastest time set by a female and moved the A team back into contention. Behind Macdonald, Abi Leiper’s 9:35 also moved the B team into a strong position.
Tynedale’s Harry Courtney took the lead in the race half way through the final lap, and although he was chased hard all the way by Morpeth’s Tom Innes, his time of 8:10 proved just good enough to stay ahead, Tynedale winning in a combined time of 25:34 . Innes had to settle for second place, his 8:15 clocking meaning the A team finished some 12 seconds behind.
Behind Innes, there was a tremendous performance by an in form Conor Marshall, whose 7:58 was the fastest run of the day and moved the B team into fifth position in 26:22.
There was some compensation however with victory for the club in both the O40’s and O60’s categories. Guy Bracken (8:41), Jane Hodgson (9:26, the fastest Over 40 time of the day) and Lee Bennett (8:52) placed 7th overall in the race and were out of sight of their nearest competitors by the end, with the team’s 26:59 only a minute and a half behind the winners.
It was a little closer in the O60s, with Dave Nicholson (10:16), Pam Woodcock (13:12) and Neil Macanany (9:56) holding off the challenge from Elswick’s squad.
The club placed no less than five of its nine teams in the top 20, and with wins in two of the four competitions, second and fifth overall places and the day’s two fastest times by male and female runners, there was perhaps more than adequate compensation for the loss of the trophy itself.
Sunday saw the 69th running of the annual Brampton to Carlisle race, in which Morpeth Harriers have always had a keen interest.
Won this year by Andrew Heyes of Hallamshire in 48:42 with Leeds City’s Heather Townsend winning the women’s race in 56:50, there were only four Morpeth entrants.
Rachelle Falloon clocked 1:01:12 and was 3rd Senior Woman. Evergreen O65 Gavin Bayne was 1st in his age category, his 1:03:33 making him the second fastest O65 nationally this year. Just ahead of Bayne, Graeme Thorpe was 119th in 1:03:06 and 17th O/45, and Matthew Boyle 174th in 1:08:20.