A unique blend of young and old captured medals for Morpeth Harriers at the annual Royal Signals Road Relays, incorporating the North East Athletics Association Championships, held at a sunny but cold Hetton Lyons Country Park, Hetton Le Hole, County Durham on Saturday 17th February 2018.
In the Senior Men’s event, run over 6 Stages, each covering a distance of 2.2mile, Morpeth retained the winners title for the fourth consecutive year, courtesy of Kieran Hedley (10m58s), Karl Taylor (11m11s),
Sam Hancox (11m27s), Lewis Timmins (11m02s), Ian Harding (10m59s), and Thomas Straughan, who had run in Armagh in Ireland less than 48 hours previous, who clocked 11m00s, to bring the squad home nearly two minutes clear of second placed Tyne Bridge Harriers, with Tees-side based club New Marske taking the bronze medals,
a further 83 seconds adrift.
The Morpeth Harriers Senior Men’s B team, who finished 20th overall, and as 18th Senior Team, would not have finished at all, had Veteran Man Paul Brown not jumped off his administration stool at the last moment to ensure that they finished as a complete squad.
With little or no warm up, plus missing his actual start, he got around showing an individual time of 17m17s,
very much against a running clock, to support the earlier efforts of Under 17 athlete Taylor Glover (11m08s),
Alistair Douglass (11m29s), Andrew Hebden (12m49s), Andrew Lawrence (11m42s), and Mark Snowball (12m06s).
Morpeth’s Over 40 Veteran Men ran superbly to figure amongst the medals, finishing second to Sunderland Harriers in their category, courtesy of Rob Hancox (13m28s), Graeme Thorpe (12m35s), Paul Waterston (13m14s),
John Butters, a truly excellent fastest Veteran time of (11m26s), Tim Miley (13m25s), and Fergus Bates (12m36s).
They had also achieved this by using Over 50 Veterans Hancox, nursing a hamstring injury, and Waterston, plus Miley, who is an Over 55 Veteran, and all three had been willing to step down in age to compete with younger counterparts in the quest for medals.
The result had proved most positive, which delighted a much-beleaguered Morpeth Veteran Men’s Team Manager Peter Scaife, who had faced some last-minute dropouts from his original Over 50 line-ups,
which we shall report upon later in this article.
A mere nineteen seconds disappointingly robbed Morpeth Harriers Senior Women from retaining their North East title for the third successive year in their four-stage contest.
Despite excellent running by Holly Peck (13m30s), Catriona MacDonald (12m57s), Gracie Hufton(14m00s),
and Team Captain Emma Holt (12m24s), they just couldn’t quite match the later power of Jarrow and Hebburn.
It was however Peck’s very first run in a Senior competition, and for her and Hufton,
their very first sharing of Senior medals, albeit Silver on this occasion.
Holt was second fastest on the day behind seasoned International Aly Dixon,
who posted 11m53s for Sunderland Strollers, who were third placed Women’s Veteran team,
thus making Holt the fastest Senior.
In the Veteran Women’s event, Morpeth Harriers finished eighth, courtesy of Vicky Gibbs (14m23s),
who was making a competitive comeback, Jane Briggs (16m17s),
Helen King (14m40s), and Gemma Floyd (14m53s).
Morpeth Harriers also had some incomplete teams in action for their Over 50 Men,
which we referred to earlier in this article, along with an incomplete team in the Senior Women’s competition.
Due to last minute injury and illness dropouts, Peter Scaife only had Alistair MacDonald and Gavin Bayne to call into their line-up, which was very unfortunate, because with two more relatively strong team colleagues,
they may well have been possible medal contenders in the age group.
Meanwhile Alison Brown, Sue Smith, and Pam Woodcock lined up in an incomplete Senior Women’s squad.
Unfortunately the results from these were unavailable at the time of going to press.