The 33rd running of the annual Leeds Abbey Dash on Sunday 4th November 2018,
saw over 8,000 athletes gathered in the centre of the city once again to pound the streets of the city of Leeds
and there were amongst them inevitably a good sprinkling of Morpeth vests.
The race, run in support of Age UK, was first run in 1986 and has steadily grown its numbers with runners attracted by the largely flat course, the excellent organisation and perhaps above all the high quality fields.
This year’s race included again an inter area match with athletes drawn from all round the UK
and also included the combined armed services championships with athletes representing
the Army, the Navy and the RAF.
The 2018 Dash was won by Adam Craig of Inverclyde and Scotland in a time of 29 minutes and 8 seconds
with Sunderland lad Jack Martin, now representing Stockport, in 2nd (29m 27s)
and Lucian Allison of Lincoln Wellington in 3rd (29m 33s).
In the women’s race, Morpeth’s Mhairi Maclennan, representing the Scotland team,
was narrowly second in a time of 33m 36s to Fionnuala Ross of Shettleston whose winning time
was only some six seconds faster. It was, nevertheless, a personal best time on the roads for Maclennan who,
while disappointed to be beaten into second place, was pleased overall with her run.
First Morpeth Harrier home on the day was Under 17 athlete Daniel Dixon who, in his first ever outing over the distance, managed to finish under the 32 minute mark in a time of 31 minutes 57 seconds for 72nd place,
with Andrew Lawrence, who regularly targets the race, just missing out on the top 100 (106th, in fact)
next in 32m 40s.
Having a good run behind them was Leeds University based Philip Winkler (155th in 33m 26s)
with Ali Douglas, who had opted for a very early start from the NE rather than an overnight stay, 178th in 33m 49s.
Three Harriers from the Chris Waugh stable recorded personal bests on the day:
Richard Johnson (231st in 34m 51s), Tom Innes (256th in 35m 8s)
and, having put the disappointment of watching Bradford City the day before behind him,
Andrew Hebden (329th in 36m 5s).
Matty Boyle, another regular visitor who had suffered a wretched night of hotel disturbance,
was 386th in 36m 59s and Rob Hancox 7th Over 50 veteran in 36m 48s.
Rachelle Falloon also comfortably slipped under the 40 minute mark by some 23 seconds.
Two athletes on their hopeful way back from injury made up the Morpeth count:
Helen King, 9th Over 40 in 41m 23s and Peter Scaife (43m 40s).
As a veteran of the race - holding the dubious distinction indeed of having run in the first ever one - it’s interesting for me to note that, despite the several pieces of tinkering to the course both at the start (for many years on the Leeds Headrow) and on the route itself (for the first twenty years of its life the route actually went round Kirkstall Abbey, believe it or not), the fastest times recorded still remain those of Mike Openshaw (28m 45s)
and Jill Hunter (32m 15s) from quite a long time ago.
Report by Peter Scaife