This weekend would have seen the annual British Masters Relays
take place in their now established home at Sutton Park, just north of Birmingham.
Sadly of course cancelled, the venue has been a happy hunting ground for Morpeth Harriers vets twice in the last ten years, so in the absence of competition now seems a good chance to go back and remember two memorable medal winning performances.
In 2011 the competition had moved to include the M35 category in accordance with IAAF rules and was
then an 8 stage event. A Morpeth team that included Phil Walker, Paul Waterston, Chris Waugh, Ian Hudspith, George Hall, Neil Wilkinson, Alan Shepherd and Terry Wall finished in 3rd place in a time of 2:09:11
behind Salford (2:07:38) and winners Cambuslang (2:08:45).
A flying Ian Hudspith’s remarkable time of 14:08 for the
3 mile leg still remains a course record, however.
Five years later when the competition had slimmed down to a 6 stage relay, there was a record breaking performance from what Athletics Weekly would memorably describe later as ‘another northern powerhouse’.
With Chris Smith (15:05) scrapping his way ahead of Birchfield Harriers on leg 1, the club set its stall out early and though Mickey Morris (16:06) slipped just one place behind the home town Birmimgham outfit on leg 2,
all changed when Peter Newton went out on the 3rd leg. In imperious form and running in his first
and only BMAF Championships, he recorded the fastest time of the day (14:31)
to open up a gap of well over a minute (Ian was later relieved to find his record still stood).
Thereafter it was almost a procession, with John Butters (16:06) on 4th, Ian Hudspith (14:40) on 5th and Ade Whitwam bringing it home on the final leg (15:27) for a finishing time of 1:31:55 and a new course record,
with a winning margin of well over two minutes. Newton, Hudspith and Smith in fact ran
the three fastest times of the day.
Since then, no one has got near Morpeth’s record which will be a tough act to beat for any club.
Sadly, the club hasn’t got back to Sutton Park over the last few years, a situation which
surely has to change in the near future. With the M45-55 and W35-45 requiring
only teams of four, and the W45, W55, M55 and M65 teams of three,
it must be time to get back into competitive action for Morpeth Harriers.
It’s a long day out, but a great chance to pit yourself against the best vets from
all over the UK, and an opportunity for one of the best medals that you may ever own!