Cross country action resumed at Druridge Bay Country Park on Sunday with the second NEHL fixture.
Though hosted by Blyth Running Club and Alnwick Harriers, the event has always been very much a ‘home’ fixture for Morpeth and there was a good number of both Young and Senior athletes in action.
The previous week’s rain had made little impact on the surface, with a terrain that is more of a trail race than a traditional cross country fixture – indeed, the most challenging aspect was not the relatively brief climbs but the many ruts and potholes on some difficult ground which had been previously heavily grazed by cattle.
Unfortunate Morpeth Under 13 James Harrison came a cropper in his race and had to be taken to hospital, where x-rays revealed a chipped ankle. Well done to colleague Irwin Wilby who sacrificed his own race to stay by him until help arrived. The club sends best wishes to both. Thankfully, there were no other serious accidents despite several fallers.
Undoubtedly one of the highlights of the day for Morpeth was again the performance of veteran Jane Hodgson in the penultimate Women’s race. Showing no after-effects from last week’s Kielder Marathon, Jane put all her younger rivals to shame when coming through from Fast Pack with a 5 minute handicap to get up to 11th place, and in the process clocked the fastest time of the day for the two lap course of 25 minutes 11 seconds.
She was supported by Tayla Murdy, 15th (30:26) and Sarah Lawson, 16th (30:36), both from Slow Pack, with debutant Savannah Kelley completing the team count in 114th.
A good turn out once again by the Senior Women, which featured two first timers in addition to Savannah, saw the club finish fifth on the day and move up the league table to a joint 5th place overall. However, they should continue to climb the standings as other clubs see their slower runners move up a pack, as long as they can maintain the same numbers.
Other Morpeth finishers were: Jane Briggs, 115th, 31:12 from Medium; Eleanor Blackburn, 116th from Slow in 33:34; Claire Calverley, 134th from Medium in 31:34; Sarah Routledge, 176th from Slow in 34:57; Sue Smith, 196th from Slow in 35:22 and Louise Burt, 272nd from Slow in 37:32. Some 428 finished.
Biggest field of the day was once again the final Senior Men’s race with some 500 plus finishers.
Won by Lewis Roberts of Heaton Harriers in 35:46, U/20 Joe Anderson put his disappointment at Wrekenton a fortnight ago – where he had struggled in the heat – behind him, and this time produced an excellent race to come home in 2nd place in a time of 36:12 from Slow Pack.
Andy Lawrence was another Harrier showing no ill effects from a marathon, this time Berlin, as he ran the club’s fastest time of the day from Medium Pack (34:43) to finish next form the club in 6th in front of two generations of Lawrences watching on.
Connor Marshall was 17th (36:27) from Medium Pack and Lee Bennett 45th (37:38), with Bennett ensuring his move to Fast Pack from successive races, some achievement for an Over 50 and belying his earlier claim, ‘I won’t do much from Medium’.
Fifth club counter was Ali Douglas from Fast, 48th in 37:38, with the final scorer the ever reliable Jordan Scott, 58th in 35:24 from Fast.
Morpeth narrowly missed out on the team win, however, losing to Tyne Bridge Harriers with Sunderland Harriers in third. The club remains at the top of the early league table nevertheless in what looks to be very much a three-horse race this season.
There were fine runs further down the field also, with a return to competition after several years out by Phil Walker, now an Over 55 vet, and the annual cross country outing by Paul Banks, this time only a week after London.
Other finishers were: Mark Snowball, 84th from Fast in 36:09; Phil Walker, 103rd from Slow in 41:32; Paul Banks, 111st from Slow in 41:45; Andrew Hebden, 175th from Medium in 40:41; Eric Adams, 177th from Slow in 43:19; Dave Nicholson, just making the start and running from Slow in 43:39 for 199th; debutant Richard Glennie, 227th from Slow in 44:45; Paul Brown, 238th from Slow in 45:07; Andrew Dippie, 36oth from Slow in 48:49; Peter Scaife, 408th from Very Slow in 50:50, and Marius Van Aswegen, 502nd in 65:43.
Earlier races for young athletes did see several team victories. The U/17 boys, led by Ralph Robson in 5th, with James Tilley 6th and Sam Tate 11th, were 1st on the day. There were further supporting runs from Bertie Marr, 19th in 16:42, Matt Walton, 24th also from Fast in 17:01, Liam Roche, 25th in 17:15, all from Fast, and Adam Howliston, 22nd in 19:53. They comfortably sit at the top of the early league tables.
The combined U/17 Girls and U/20 Senior Women team also finished 1st team. Abi Leiper had a good race to finish 3rd in 20:16 from Slow with Millie Breese 4th in 19:08 from Fast and Kate Gaffing 8th from Slow in 20:28. Caitlin Flanagan was 22nd (22:45) and Sophia Cunningham 29th (25:32). The team is also now top of their division.
The club’s U/13 girls were 4th on the day with Molly Roche (15:15) the club’s fastest, supported by Emma Tomlinson, 19th in 14:45 from Fast and Charlotte Marshall, 21st in 16:32 from Slow, Megan Potrac, 39th in 18:04 and Rosie Heaton, 54th in 19:41. The team occupy 3rd place in their division.
Meanwhile the U/15 boys went a couple of places better and placed 2nd to Blaydon Harriers. Not put out by the previous day’s exertions, Oli Calvert was 10th in 11:50 and Joe Close 12th in 11:59, both from Fast and not showing after effects from their runs at Sutton Park, with Stephen Craske in 20th making up the team count. Dan Burrow was 29th. Even better, they also now top their league table.
Tabby Robson was the club’s sole representative in the U/15 girls, 6th in 13:55 while Ewan Line was able to put his misdirection at Wrekenton behind him when finishing in a much better 6th in the U/11s.
The early season tables show Morpeth at the top of no less than four out of the seven team divisions, an excellent start to the season which will get tougher, however, with both more challenging courses and winter weather to come.
The delayed Redcar Running Festival, another rescheduled fixture from earlier in the year saw 5k, 10k and half marathon events all taking place on the seafront over much of the same course that had been used for the Northern Relays.
Lindsey Quinn was 2nd in the 5k with a time of 21 minutes and 1 second, only losing out to Ella Towers of home club New Marske. In the Men’s race, won by NSP’s Dave Green in 15:33, Anthony Janetta was 8th in 18:18 with O/45 Graeme Thorpe one place behind in 18:31. Alistair Mac was 12th in 19:24.
Laura Shaw and Margaret Macdonald both ran in the 10k. Laura was 45th in 49:04 and Margaret 120th in 58:42. Tom Danby was 1st home in 34:45 and NSP’s Carla Maley 1st female finisher in 41:28.
Best performance of the afternoon came from the in form Cat Macdonald, who won the Women’s half marathon event, which incorporated the NE Championships, in a time of 1 hour 23 minutes and 46 seconds and was actually 9th overall. First finisher was Greg Jayasuriya in 1:08:56. Some 322 finished.
Saturday’s ERRA National Relays took place once again at Sutton Park in the Midlands with the six stage Senior Men’s race held over a 5.84 km hilly loop while the three stage Young Athletes races covered some 3.88 km.
Having qualified comfortably in the Northern Road Relays last month, the club’s Under 15 and Under 17 boys teams both took the next step onto the national stage and, while missing out on medals, could come away with their heads held high after strong performances.
First in action were the U/15s who finished in 7th place with a cumulative time of 39 minutes 54 seconds, with the race won by Birchfield Harriers in a time of 38:50.
On first leg Oliver Calvert had the team in 5th place with a time of 13 minutes 3 seconds, but Oliver Tomlinson got them into 2nd with 13:23 on leg 2. Joe Close on last leg ran 13:26 with the team finishing as third team from the North of England and comfortably inside the top ten.
They were followed by the U/17s who managed to go one better when finishing in 6th. Will de Vere Owen ran the team’s fastest time of the day (and the 9th fastest overall) when clocking 11:55 on leg 1 for 4th place, with Ryan Davies on leg 2 going out to 6th (12:36). Last leg runner Bertie Marr’s clocking of 12:21 saw the team maintain this position, although they were somewhat unhappy to finish behind fellow North Easterners Gosforth Harriers in 5th.
The team’s cumulative time was 36:52 with the race won by the very strong Wirral AC outfit who had also won in the Northern Relays, in a time of 35:34. The Morpeth team do have the satisfaction of knowing, however, that they have another year at this age group and can return to challenge in 2022.
The Men’s 6 stage was a very keenly contested competition with Aldershot and Farnham AC, for whom Luke Rowe ran the fastest time of the day (16:33), winning in 1:42:44 ahead of Leeds City AC (1:43:47) and Shaftesbury Barnet (1:44:06).
Morpeth’s team, which featured several runners returning to competition in the blue and white, were all close to each other in terms of leg times and, after leg 2, never outside the top ten, but were unable to challenge for the honours on this occasion.
Cameron Boyek on the as expected very fierce leg 1 ran 17:35 and came home in 20th place. Joe Armstrong (17:51) had the club upto 16th on leg 2 and George Rudman moved them into the top ten with his 17:37 for 9th on 3rd.
The team’s fastest leg of the day was recorded by Finn Brodie on leg 4 with his 17:21 moving them into 7th, and though they slipped one place on George Lowry’s leg 5 (18:03), Alex Brown ran 17:29, the club’s 2nd fastest time, to get them back into a final placing of 7th with a cumulative time of 1 hour 45 minutes and 56 seconds.
They did have the satisfaction of being 2nd team from the North of England behind Leeds City AC and ahead of all the clubs from the North West.
The only negative note would surely be that poor Liam Roarty was left on his own to run 17:51 on leg 1 for an incomplete B team. Surely a club with such a strong Senior Men’s set-up should be capable of filling at least one other team, as many other clubs on show did?
Rescheduled from April, the 67th Three Peaks Race, also known as ‘The Marathon with Mountains’ was held last Saturday in pretty grim weather.
The course is 23.3 miles with 5,279ft of climbing over the Yorkshire 3 Peaks of Pen-Y-Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough.
Heavy wet air led to low cloud over the hills and slippery underfoot conditions but that proved no problem to our own Matthew Briggs who finished in a superb 18th position and 3rd under 23 in 3.28.03.
He was followed home by John Butters who was having an ‘easy’ run out after his two races at Kielder the previous weekend. John ‘cruised’ round in 3.50 and looked really comfortable.
Next in was Mike Steven closely followed by Gwenda Cavill (who yarked her knee on the last descent) but unfortunately Gary Mason got pulled at the last time check.
The race has a long history detailed on its website and it is a massive logistical operation to get it on. It’s a really big deal in the Yorkshire Dales and the number of spectators and support out on the course is fantastic.
The organisation is superb but I suspect the organisers are a little disappointed with turnout this year – 800-plus entries yielded only 460 starters and 417 finishers, probably a result of a lot of events being crammed into this post-lockdown period and turnout down all over the place.
If you fancy a challenge next April, have a look at the website above for entry qualification – lots of the route is runnable so you need to have miles in your legs but also strength for some steep climbs – the leaders powering up Whernside was really impressive.
Well done to the five Morpeth Harriers who took part and commiserations to Rich Kirby (who put his back out the day before the race) and Steve Haswell who missed out due to a long bout of Plantar Fasciitis – hope you are both back running soon.
The weekend’s athletics action was dominated by marathons, with the annual Kielder Marathon weekend taking place in the west of our county while Sunday saw the return of the Virgin Money London Marathon to the capital.
The Kielder Marathon weekend has steadily grown in scale and now offers a wide range of different sporting challenges, with an individual and team Run – Bike – Run event on the Saturday along with a 10 kilometre race which has grown in popularity. Sunday sees both Half and Full Marathon events take place, as well as Junior races.
Autumn announced its arrival in no uncertain terms on Saturday, with some atrocious conditions and outbursts of torrential rain that dogged the 600 plus field in the 10k race.
The weather couldn’t deter Morpeth’s Mark Snowball, however, who took a fine victory with a time of 35 minutes 45 seconds. Snowball’s nearest challenge came ironically from his twin brother Chris, the ex Ashington Hirst runner, now competing for Wakefield AC, chasing him all the way with a time of 36m 37s. Over 45 John Butters confessed to struggling with the cold but still came home in 4th in 38:18. .
Finishing 6th overall, Claire Duck of Leeds City AC made her journey north worthwhile as first female finisher with a very decent time in the circumstances of 38m 32s. Morpeth’s Laura Mclean was 128th and 32nd female finisher in 54m 41s.
Sunday’s runners were grateful that conditions had improved a little for the day’s Half and Full Marathon events. Remarkably, after his previous day’s exertions, John Butters put himself on the start line once again and this time had a much better outing, coming home in 2nd place overall in a time of 1 hour 18 minutes, some 33 seconds behind race winner David Holmes who clocked 1:16:39. The field of 634 proved the half marathon to be the most popular event.
Low Fell’s Anna Mclean was first woman home in 1:38:31 and Louise Burt Morpeth’s only representative, 214th and 50th female finisher, just outside the two hour mark in 2:00:10.
The full marathon was won by a runner from Keswick AC, Russell Maddams, who made it back in under three hours with a time of 2:54:25. Regular participant Morpeth’s Andrew Hebden, though very short of training, still managed to finish in 13th place overall in 3:16:45. The first female finisher was Jo Ballantyne, 33rd in 3:35:08.
Further down the field, 2011 race winner Jane Hodgson trotted round with her brother and ex Morpeth RUFC first team skipper Paul Mooney, the two finishing together in 4:39:52.
Meanwhile there was another winner for Morpeth Harriers, with Sophie Pledger coming home first in the Under 11 1.5 km event in a time of 5:06.
There were some 36,000 finishers in Sunday’s London Marathon, moved this year from its traditional slot in April after having been cancelled altogether in 2020, and run this year under fine, dry and cool conditions which were ideal for fast times.
Ethiopian Sisa Lemma ran the 6th fastest ever time on the course when winning in 2:04:31 while Ethiopian Joyciline Jepkosgei took the women’s race in 2:17:43.
There were only two Morpeth Harriers who took part this year, experienced Over 40 Gary Jones some way off full fitness but still easily breaking the three hour mark in 2:52:33 for 1211th place, and Paul Banks (O/50), 2426th in 3:03:10.
Three of Morpeth’s talented young athletes were also chosen to run for the North East in the British Road Racing Championships event for young athletes. An inter-area competition, this is held at the same time as the London Borough Challenge and run over a much shorter distance of 2.6 miles on the final section of the course from Temple Place to the Mall, which enables youngsters to get a feel for the big city occasion.
Will de Vere Owen was 25th and third counter for the NE in the U17 men in a time of 7m 41s. An under the weather Millie Breese was 40th and 4th counter for the matching U17 women in 9:05 and Joe Close 51st and 4th counter in 8:39 in the U15 boys race.