Second Year Under 17 athlete Amy Lott of Morpeth Harriers, produced a massive lifetime personal best of 8.81s to win the Scottish 60m Hurdle title at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow on Sunday 26th January 2020.
Lott, coached by Dave Thomas, also exacted sweet revenge upon close rival Meg Corker of Stockport Triathlon, who had just pipped her in the Northern Championships at Sheffield two weeks ago.
Again, like Corker, Lott had managed to get through an earlier heat, plus a semi-final, and winning them both.
Going into the final, Lott was marginally the faster with 8.89s to Corker’s 8.90s,
but still below their ranked personal best’s.
In the final Corker did produce 8.83s, which is well below her Indoor best of 8.77s,
which she produced in her Semi Final at those Northern Championships at Sheffield.
However, on this occasion Lott proved to be more than a match for her very talented rival,
plus twenty-six other opponents in the competition.
This new personal best for Lott, makes her rise from fifth to third in the current year performance rankings behind Aldershot and Farnham’s Ella Manning, who tops the rankings with 8.74s, and Corker.
Another Morpeth Harrier, also coached by Thomas, and competing in Glasgow, and also getting through three rounds of competition, was first year Under 17 athlete Alice Geoghegan, who took part in the Indoor 300m event for the first time.
In her first-round heat, she posted a time of 43.11s, which saw her get through to a later run semi-final, by winning.
At this stage she had the second fastest qualifying time, and in her semi-final,
she finished second in the fourth fastest overall time of 42.84s.
In the final, she marginally improved her time to 42.74s, which saw her place fifth of six.
It was a superb effort, up against eighteen opponents from the off, and finishing in roughly the top third is an excellent achievement, plus a time that now ranks her in the Top 20 in the UK, and now takes her to number one regionally.
Two team bronze medals and three top ten individual finishes were the headline results for Morpeth Harriers at the North of England Cross Country Championships on Saturday 25th January 2020.
Held for the first time in the rural setting of the Camp Hill Estate in Bedale, North Yorkshire, although the various courses through the surrounding woods lacked any real hills they did more than make up for it with several sections of strength-sucking, ankle-deep mud.
Robyn Bennett’s 9th place finish in the Junior Women’s event 6.2 kilometre race was an early highlight. Finishing in a time of 23 minutes 42 seconds, Bennett was only 30 seconds off a medal with another well-judged and gutsy performance. Border Harrier Olivia Mason was a convincing winner overall.
Younger brother Rowan was able to go one better shortly afterwards in the Under 17 competition, not only finishing in 7th place but leading the U/17 team to a fine bronze medal behind winners Vale Royal AC and local rivals Houghton Harriers
Bennett was supported by Dylan Gooding in 35th, Dylan Davies in 51st and Tom Balsdon 57th,
all delighted to pick up a team bronze.
There was a matching medal in the U/15 boys. This time it was Joe Dixon, just outside the top ten in 11th position, who was first home, with supporting runs courtesy of Dylan’s younger brother Ryan (15th),
Sam Tate (46th) and Liam Roche (64th).
Missing out on a medal but also running well were William Owen (73rd), Matt Walton (93rd) and Bertie Marr (111th), with Marr determined to finish despite still feeling the adverse effects of an injury sustained at Temple Park two weeks ago. With all but two of this squad able to run in the same age group next year,
the future certainly looks bright for them as a group.
Clubs from the North West, Wirral AC and Sale Harriers, had a close fought race for 1st and 2nd,
with Wirral just edging it.
The club’s Junior Men’s squad were unfortunate in narrowly missing out on a 3rd medal, finishing in 4th place behind Preston Harriers, Chesterfield AC and Vale Royal. Ironically, had there been three and not four to count in this age category, the team would have picked up a silver medal.
Kieran Hedley, who has looked stronger with every race run over the last month, was back first for the club in 18th with Taylor Glover and Dan Melling 27th and 28th. Connor Marshall was also 63rd and Alex Cunningham 68th.
With two or three strong runners hopefully back for the National Cross Country in three weeks time,
the prospects for the squad as a whole also look promising.
Six other Morpeth Juniors raced, although these were disappointingly in incomplete teams.
Abi Leiper had a good run to finish in 33rd in the 4.3k U/15 girls race with Olivia Carruthers finishing 148th.
First club run of the day had been Holly Peck, already a veteran of these championships,
who ran with Kate Gaffing in the U/17 Women. Holly was 44th and Kate 84th in an exciting race
where the first three were only separated by some 12 seconds, with Sale’s Lara Crawford 1st home.
In the two 3k U/13 races, Morpeth’s sole representatives were Holly’s younger sister Kiera and Oliver Tomlinson, both taking part in their first ever Northerns and both at the bottom end of their age categories.
Kiera placed 166th and Oliver 58th.
With most of the club’s Juniors having run competitively at Temple Park on the preceding Tuesday in the North East Schools’ Championships, all those who turned out only a matter of days later in some tough conditions deserve great credit.
Longest and final race of the day was the Senior Men’s 12.3k over three laps and through several sections that would have been a challenge to walk, let alone run, through.
An early group of four that featured last year’s champion, Morpeth’s Carl Avery, along with Joe Steward of East Cheshire Harriers, Linton Taylor of Leeds City and Gateshead’s Calum Johnson, quickly formed at the front and it was clear that the medals would be between these four, with the lead changing hands several times.
It was only on the last lap that Johnson - who Avery had beaten convincingly at Alnwick before Christmas, but who was perhaps finding the conditions more to his liking - finally made the decisive move. He pulled away to win by a margin of some 16 seconds from Steward and Taylor, with Avery (who had struggled with a virus in the week before the race) left in perhaps the worst position to finish of 4th.
Some seven other Morpeth men ran. Next home were Adam Pratt and Phil Winkler who both ran very consistent races to finish in 60th and 64th.
Liam Roarty, in his first major championships for the club, was in 100th place. The club’s final two counters were Ali Douglas (134th) and Tom Innes (164th), both of whom ran with clenched teeth for the last lap knowing they were team counters.
Two veterans also finished for the club with very respectable runs: both O/50 Lee Bennett (216th) and 0/65 Dave Nicholson (370th) left many younger men behind them.
The team finished in a very creditable 7th place despite the absence of a significant number of male athletes, but would have surely been close to the medals with a bigger turn-out – a lesson for the National perhaps.
The team race was a close one between teams from the North West, with Sale and Salford Harriers finishing in 1st and 2nd, and Leeds City perhaps surprisingly only 3rd. Morpeth were again leading NE club with Tyne Bridge just making the top ten and Gateshead 14th.
In the women’s race which had immediately preceded the men’s, Jess Judd again showed herself to be a class act as she ran away from last year’s winner and ex-Morpeth Harrier Mhairi Maclennan, now with Preston,
who finished 3rd and Sale’s Georgia Taylor-Brown.
Unsurprisingly, Leeds City dominated the team race with Sale and Ribble Valley 2nd and 3rd.
All photos courtesy of Adrian Royle
Several Morpeth Harriers were in competitive action at the annual Northumberland Schools Cross Country Championships, held at Temple Park, South Shields on Tuesday 21st January 2020.
Relatively ideal conditions were faced by all, with the odd muddy patch here and there to be encountered, but as a relief, and by way of change, not a trace of frost or ice in sight, and only a whisper of a slight cool breeze in existence, as a total of just under 480 runners faced the Starter over the eight programmed events.
With the leading sixteen from each event being selected to take part in the annual Northern Schools Inter Counties event, which is being held in Cumbria in February, as a result of this, no fewer than twenty four of the clubs athletes see themselves with places, in a competition, where apart from those in the Minor age group, may have an opportunity to progress to the annual English Schools competition, being held at Sefton Park in Liverpool on Saturday 14th March.
For some, perhaps a tall order, but there are also some with very high hopes, particularly those who managed to win themselves individual medals on the day, of which Morpeth Harriers were responsible for no less than ten, three being of Gold colour, five being Silver, and two being Bronze.
Ross Charlton (East Northumberland), was always in control of matters in the Senior Boys event, and eventually stole away to win by two seconds from Newcastle’s Charlie McMillan, who led his team to victory.
It was an excellent scalp however for Charlton, having finished fourth to the Gateshead Harrier in December’s North Eastern Championships at Alnwick.
Only a few paces behind McMillan in third place, and taking the Bronze medal, was Charlton’s Morpeth club colleague Daniel Dixon, also competing for East Northumberland.
In fourth place, but also a good minute adrift of Dixon, was fellow Morpeth Harrier Daniel Melling, who was second home for the winning Newcastle squad led by McMillan.
Running for North Northumberland was Oliver Telfer, who trains with Morpeth Harriers on a second claim basis, being linked with Alnwick Harriers as a first claim athlete.
Telfer finished eighth.
Joe Dixon (East), of Morpeth Harriers, comfortably won the Junior Boys event, ahead of club colleague Ryan Davies (East), who took the Silver medal.
The pair led East Northumberland to a fine team victory, one of only two on the day, with further excellent supporting runs coming from fellow Morpeth Harriers in Bertie Marr (5th), Liam Roche (6th), William De Vere Owen (7th), and Harry Brown (30th).
East Northumberland B team finished as seventh team, with George Tweedie (35th), and Alfie Laskey (50th) figuring in the six counters.
The other team victory for East Northumberland came in the Intermediate Boys event, who were well led home by Morpeth Harrier Dylan Gooding, who finished an excellent second to Tynedale’s Charlie Daley.
Gooding finished seven seconds adrift of Daley to take a Silver medal.
In December, Daley had finished fifth, and Gooding had finished ninth in the North Eastern Counties Championships, with around twenty-seven seconds parting them.
Further good team support for East Northumberland and Gooding, came from fellow Morpeth Harriers Euan Duffin (4th), Dylan Davies (5th), Ben Walker (12th), and Sam Tate (14th).
Another good Morpeth Harrier performer in this event was Matthew Walton, who unfortunately looks to have narrowly lost out on a place on the bus to Cumbria for the Inter Counties by finishing seventeenth.
Morpeth’s third individual Gold Medal winner on the day was Kate Kennedy, who won the Junior Girls event by a margin of eight seconds.
She led East Northumberland to seventh team place.
Other prominent Morpeth performers in this event were Zara Naughton (Tynedale) (10th),
Caitlin Flanagan (Newcastle) (22nd), who is transferring from North Shields, and Sophia Cunningham (East) (23rd).
Moving back to the Boys events, where in the Minors, Oliver Calvert (Newcastle) just lost out for a Gold Medal by three seconds to North Tyneside’s Zak Brannon.
Zak, who runs for North Shields Poly is the son of prominent North East runner Tommy Brannon.
Not far behind Calvert in third place, and taking the Bronze Medal, was his Morpeth Harriers club colleague Oliver Tomlinson, who led East Northumberland to fifth team place.
There was a hint of irony, and most definitely a touch of sadness attached to Morpeth Harrier Holly Peck’s performance in the Senior Girls race, where there were no complete teams to be found in the field of thirteen competitors.
Peck is clearly down on her form at present; however, she bravely battled her way around the course to finish second to Newcastle’s Chloe Wellings, who won by a margin of forty-six seconds.
It effectively ended the East Northumberland star performers reign as a County Champion.
Peck has reigned supreme through all the age groups since 2015, winning five successive titles, one Minor Girls, two Junior Girls, and two Intermediate Girls.
Unfortunately, a sixth successive title, and a new one, eluded her, a factor she gracefully accepted, as a very much in form Wellings strode to victory.
Peck’s unique record stands however, and cannot be taken away, and she should be proud of those achievements, and whilst sharing her current disappointment, her club equally share her past glories.
Hopefully Peck will move on to greater heights, she certainly has the
outstanding ability and potential for achievement.
Other excellent performances by athletes from Morpeth Harriers in the Senior Girls events came from Ella Duffield (North Northumberland) (6th), and Kirsty Duffin (East) (7th).
The Intermediate Girls event was won by Gateshead Harrier Ines Curran, running for Newcastle, who won by eighteen seconds from North Northumberland athlete Millie Breeze, who has a second claim association with Morpeth Harriers for training, being a first claim runner competitively with Alnwick Harriers, who took Silver Medal placing.
Fifth place went to Tynedale’s Abi Leiper of Morpeth Harriers, who led her squad home to fourth team place.
Other prominent Morpeth Harriers finishers in this event were Sophie Coaker (16th), who was second counter for a fifth place East Northumberland squad, Kate Gaffing (20th), who was third counter, and Olivia Carruthers (21st), who was sixth home for a second placed Newcastle squad.
Newcastle Schools were the outstanding area, who took the Gill Mooney Trophy for their efforts.
Tynedale finished third, East Northumberland placed fourth, and North Northumberland were given the proverbial “Wooden Spoon,” for finishing fifth.
North Tyneside finished second.
Successful Athletes can now look forward to the Schools Inter Counties competition,
which is being held at Lowther Castle Estate, near Penrith, on Saturday 8th February.
Leading veteran Gavin Bayne achieved his goal of selection for the England Athletics Masters’ half marathon team
when completing the Essar Four Villages Half Marathon in Cheshire on Sunday 19th January 2019.
A popular road race on rural roads around Helsby, the race is in its 37th year and was voted Best Half Marathon in the North in this year's Challenge Awards, and was chosen as a qualifying race for England Masters.
Picking up in the fine form in which he had finished the year but in foggy conditions Gavin himself described as ‘bloody freezing’, and over quite a hilly course that involves nearly 100m of climbing, he ran a time of 1hour 26 minutes 43 seconds and placed 4th in the Over 60 category (although he in fact turns 65 later in the year).
His time qualifies him for the Fleet half-marathon in March, which incorporates the England vs Celtic nations race.
Also taking part in the race was Michelle Thompson, who ran a time of 1:29:23 and was 8th female Over 35.
The annual cross country relays held at Lord Lawson of Beamish Academy in Birtley on Sunday morning were again a happy hunting ground for Morpeth Harriers, with the club retaining the Senior Men’s trophy they won last year and finishing second in the Senior Women’s.
With the competition incorporating once the North East Masters Athletics Association relays,
there were also team medals in the Over 55 and Over 45 men’s races.
Formerly held for many years in more scenic surroundings by the River Wear in Durham, the past three years had seen an uneasy compromise when the event moved to Maiden Castle Sports Centre with the course not really fulfilling the challenges of a traditional cross country.
Now hosted by Birtley AC, the new course manages to include many of the more challenging features of cross country including numerous tight bends and four lung-bursting short hill climbs over each leg, with each runner completing two laps of the one mile circuit.
Perhaps the most exciting of the day’s three races was the final Senior Men’s,
which saw a very close competition between teams from Morpeth and Tyne Bridge.
Joe Armstrong had got the club’s B team off to a flying start with what proved to be the 2nd fastest time of the day, 9 minutes 55 seconds, giving the team an early lead over a chasing group of runners from Tyne Bridge, Sunderland, Gateshead Harriers and the club’s own A team, for whom Taylor Glover ran 10:14.
On the second leg, Kieran Hedley, steadily working his way back to full competitive fitness, ran a measured leg of 10:16 to keep the B team in the lead. Behind him, however, the chasing group had been whittled down to Tyne Bridge and Morpeth A, with Ross Floyd, another athlete on the way back, running a fine 10:06, the day’s 4th fastest time, narrowing the gap.
It was certainly a baptism of fire then for Morpeth’s latest recruit, Liam Roarty in his first real outing for the club, as he went out on last leg for the B team.
Watched by his appreciative and ever vocal coach Jim Alder, Roarty stuck gamely to his task as the gap behind him progressively got narrower with Carl Smith for Tyne Bridge straining every sinew to catch him.
This was helpful for Morpeth’s A team runner, Alex Brown, who had stuck to Smith like glue and,
when Roarty was finally caught just before the start of the second lap, Brown was able to then push on
and establish a lead over Smith, who clearly lacked full race fitness.
Brown’s final clocking of 9:47 proved to be the fastest time of the day, with Brown and Armstrong the only athletes to break the 10 minute barrier. In the event, the margin of victory over Tyne Bridge was some 15 seconds.
Roarty, meanwhile, had done well to hang on for an excellent 3rd place team finish.
The NEMAA Men’s Masters relays (for teams of three in ten year age categories) had got proceedings underway, with the night’s bitter cold slowly giving way to a still and bright morning.
Won by Gateshead Harriers A team, headed once again by the redoubtable Conrad Franks, who also ran the fastest Masters time of the day (10 minutes 19 seconds), Morpeth’s Over 45 A team of Jamie Johnson (12:11), Jason Dawson (12:23) and Lee Bennett (11:41) picked up a bronze medal behind Birtley AC and Tynedale and were 13th overall. Bennett’s time was the 4th fastest Over 50 run of the day and Johnson’s the 5th Over 45.
The O/45 B team finished in 23rd place overall and 6th in their category with the runs
of Paul Brown (13:31), Phil Walker (12:17) and Paul Waterston (12:58).
The Over 55 Men’s team were once again victorious for the third year running in their category,
claiming a team gold thanks to the efforts of Tim Miley (12:32), Paul Bellingham (13:18) and Neil Macanany (12:57). Miley’s was the 5th fastest O/55 and Bellingham’s the 3rd fastest O/60.
Leading Over 65 Dave Nicholson was unfortunate not to have a team in his category around him, meanwhile, but did have the consolation of running the fastest category time of the day (12:31). With Bill Tilley (13:39) and Andrew Dippie (14:19), both competing in their first Masters Relays, the B team finished in 36th place.
Second race of the day was the Senior and Veteran Women’s race, and an early lead was taken by Elswick with fastest leg of the day by Amy Fuller (11:47). She was chased all the way by Morpeth’s young Robyn Bennett in 2nd place after leg 1 with a clocking of 12:05, the 5th fastest of the day.
Lindsay Quinn (13:13) soon took the lead for Morpeth on leg 2, but she was hunted down by one of two young Birtley AC runners who put the host club into pole position at the end of the leg
It was down to O/35 veteran Jane Hodgson to try and reel her in on the last leg, as she had done successfully last year. Despite clocking the day’s 2nd fastest time of the day (11:51), the gap was just too great however and the team had to settle for a commendable silver.
The club’s veteran women’s team of Sue Smith (15:34), Frances Naylor (17:54) and Jill Bennett (16:01) placed 44th and 8th O/45 team in a masters competition won by Gateshead Harriers, who were also 6th overall.
A special mention should be made of Fran Naylor, however, who was first on the scene when a male veteran collapsed near the start of the day’s first race with a heart attack. Administering CPR and supported by others, she was able to help keep the Derwent Valley runner alive. He was later taken to the Freeman Hospital by Air Ambulance and is hopefully on the way to recovery.
Extraordinarily, Fran then ran her own leg in the next race.
This was truly a heroic effort which the club is proud to salute: well done Fran!