A week of heavy rain which had barely abated come Saturday morning made for some treacherous and challenging conditions, the worst indeed in memory, at the 33rd Saucony English Cross Country Relays at Berry Park, Mansfield.
With 10 events on the programme, from Under 13 girls and boys through to Senior Women and Men, over 1000 team entries were recorded for this year, with the younger age groups and women running laps of 2k and the Seniors up to 5k.
Up against the best of the rest of the country, headline results for Morpeth included two top ten and two top 20 finishes.
First up for Morpeth were the club’s two teams of Junior Men. A strong ‘A’ team featuring modern pentathlon specialist Ross Charlton on leg 1, triathlete Daniel Dixon on leg 2 and GB international Rory Leonard on leg 3 finished in 8th position in a time of 28 minutes 13.75 seconds, less than a minute off a medal. Charlton’s clocking of 9:31 on the slightly shorter first leg had the team in 31st place, with Dixon moving them up nine places to 22nd in 9:31 and Leonard’s 9:10, the 5th fastest of the leg, getting them into the top ten.
The ‘B’ team of Dan Melling (9:46), Connor Marshall (10:44) and Alex Cunningham (10:22) gained valuable experience when finishing in 35th place.
The Under 15 Boys team finished just outside the top ten – but again, less than a minute off a medal in a keenly contested race. Ryan Davies had the club in 29th on leg 1 (7:08) with Joe Dixon’s 7:17, 8th fastest of the leg, moving them up to 16th. Last leg runner Bertie Marr ran 7:34 to get the team to a respectable 12th place. A young team with a super team spirit can only gain from the difficult day.
Two teams again competed in the U/17 Men’s race. The A team of Tom Balsdon (10:04), Rohan Bennett (9:59) and Euan Duffin (9:59) placed in a respectable top twenty position out of over 80 clubs running, although some time was lost when Bennett unfortunately came a cropper in the treacherous mud. Thankfully, he was able to pick himself up and continue. Meanwhile the B team had their own misfortunes, with Ben Waterfield on leg 1 missing the start and losing over a minute. The team of Dylan Gooding (10:43) and Dylan Davies (10:42) did well to recover to 59th.