Six Morpeth Harriers were certainly captivated by a true spirit of adventure,
and a longing for fresh country air, when they headed for Thrunton Woods
in wildest Northumberland on Sunday 27th March 2016,
to take part in the “Thriller” Fell Races,
run over trails in the Cheviots, North of Wooler.
There were two events on offer, one a shorter course of approx 10k distance,
the other a slightly more gruelling Half Marathon.
Two of the six chose to run the longer event, and Richard Kirby was the first of those to finish,
posting a time of 2hrs15mins, to finish seventh.
Posting a time of 2hrs31mins, Gary Mason came home in 16th place out of 82 finishers.
Fell Running Champion John Butters, who had competed in the Elswick Road Races on Good Friday,
certainly showed his prowess in the 10k, which he won in 63mins.
Three minutes behind him in second place was club colleague Karl Taylor,
who had also run on the Friday at Elswick.
Completing the Morpeth Harriers quartet in the 10k event were Andrew Richardson,
who finished ninth in 84mins, and Jacinta Wake, another Morpeth athlete
who had competed on the Good Friday, who finished 32nd in 112mins.
This event is a very enjoyable one despite the tough terrain, a one where runners,
who have time, can take in the splendour of spectacular and dramatic views
as they wend their way through trails, perfectly set by the county’s Forestry Commission,
many thanks go to the safety provision in attendance on the day.
We managed to enter an impressive 5 teams at the
Good Friday Senior Women Relays at Newburn.
Is that a first for the Morpeth women ?
The weather was glorious although unexpectedly hot to run in.
It's quite early in the year to strip down to vest and shorts.
The Venue was well organised although the 2 mile walk which became
a sprint for first leg runners ( next year I want to be leg 3)
was not enjoyable but all the same a good warm up.
Well done to the Senior Ladies who took second place
and an impressive run from Laura Weightman (11.08).
It was also good to see Sarah Wilkinson return
after a years absence due to a foot injury (12.45).
Congratulations to first time relay runner Jane Kirby
who was the fastest Morpeth Vet (15.37).
A nice turnout from the Ranks as well, Shuna with her two daughters
Lizzie and Hannah an impressive family outing.
Posting a new personal best time of 33m38s, Morpeth Harrier Mark Snowball was a very prominent finisher behind reigning champion Tadele Geremew of Elswick Harriers, who also enjoyed his third win, in the annual North Tyneside 10k,
on Sunday 27th March.
Snowball eventually finished a superb third, after managing to pass North Shields Poly’s Graham Crammond after half way, taking full advantage of
a strong coastal tailwind to guide him to the finish line,
close to St Mary’s Lighthouse, at Whitley Bay.
Other good Morpeth Harriers performances
in the event came from Matthew Boyle,
who finished 22nd overall in 36m15s,
and Catriona MacDonald, who finished 97th overall,
and was fourth Woman finisher behind reigning champion Justina Heslop of Elswick Harriers,
also partner of Geremew, posting a new personal best of 40m00s,
which was around four minutes adrift of the winner, and MacDonald
was also third Senior Woman finisher, as Heslop is now ranked as a Veteran.
Morpeth Harriers had another nine finishers in the event,
which had been set off from the Parks Leisure Centre in North Shields,
by the elected Mayor of North Tyneside Norma Redfern,
and was been held for the twelfth time, having first been run in 2005.
Further Morpeth performances were as follows
Paul Banks (133rd) (30th O/40 Man) 41m04s, Peter Scaife (159th) (4th O/55 Man) 41m53s,
Paul Willis (193rd) 42m47s, Mike Steven (254th) (10th O/55 Man) 44m05s,
Mark Crosby (289th) (21st O/50 Man) 44m55s, Carol Parry (535th) (5th O/45 Lady) 49m13s,
Susan Smith (624th) (11th O45 Lady) 50m35s, Jane Blackett (1,183rd) (18th O/50 Lady) 59m28s,
and Lesley Gemmell (1,193rd) (19th O/50 Lady) 59m32s.
The event had a total of 1,779 finishers, who all received a goody bag,
including a souvenir T Shirt, courtesy of the organisers along with Start Fitness,
who also assisted with Prize Vouchers for the successful athletes.
Morpeth Harriers were well to the fore amongst the honours in the
annual Elswick Harriers Good Friday Road Races,
held on the Newburn Riverside Business Park.
Despite a stiff breeze, runners efforts were blessed
with warm early spring sunshine,
which made conditions good for relatively fast times.
The club’s athletes excelled in achieving no less than three individual course records,
and two team victories, and two second team places on hotly contested day.
However Morpeth Harriers five year hold on the Senior Men’s
team trophy was finally broken by Gateshead Harriers,
who needed sterling team performance on the day to
break down a usual superb club effort by them.
Gateshead were no doubt boosted by Chris Parr’s course record breaking effort of 10m07s
over the 2.2mile course on leg three of four, which restored their earlier lead.
After a very steady first leg start by Kevin Calvert’s 10m45s, which had them in fifth place,
Morpeth took a second leg lead courtesy of Lewis Timmins’s 10m26s.
Ian Hudspith tried to maintain this lead on Leg Three as he got round in 10m13s,
which was the second fastest clocking of the day.
Third equal fastest of the day was Morpeth’s fourth and final leg runner Carl Avery,
who clocked 10m16s, only equalled by Gateshead’s final leg runner Callum Johnson,
who sealed a three second margin of victory over Morpeth at the finish line.
Morpeth Harriers really proved their dominance on the Senior Men’s event,
by having their B and C teams in fourth and fifth team places.
Sam Hancox ran the fastest leg time for their B team, posting
a clocking of 10m37s, which second fastest on the first leg.
Karl Taylor slipped to fourth on the second leg with his clocking of 10m54s,
and they remained in this position during the third and fourth legs,
courtesy of Jordan Scott (11m14s), and Robert Balmbra (11m25s)
The Morpeth C team were eleven seconds adrift of the B team,
courtesy of Chris Smith (10m57s), Mark Snowball (11m26s),
Matt Nicholson, making a competitive comeback after almost an 18 month layoff (11m13s),
and Ian Harding (10m45s).
After Elliot Kelly, making a welcome comeback after illness,
had the Morpeth Harriers Senior Men’s D team in 20th place
with his clocking of 11m38s, they eventually finished in 23rd place,
with further efforts coming from Neil Gunstone (12m52s),
Steve Patterson (12m26s), and Mark Brown (12m27s),
who was making a fleeting competitive comeback,
midst his current coaching career with the club.
It certainly didn’t take long for the Senior Women’s course record to be broken.
European and Commonwealth medallist Laura Weightman soon saw to that,
as with her first leg posting of 11m08s, she was indeed thirteen seconds inside the old record,
previously set by Sunderland Stroller’s International Alyson Dixon three years ago.
Weightman was also the only Senior Woman to get below
12 minutes on the course, which definitely put her a class apart.
Josie Cram took over for Morpeth on second leg, and despite running hard during the first
mile of her 2.2mile leg, she was eventually caught by Birtley AC’s Tracy Millmore.
Cram battled again after being caught, and she bravely managed to keep the margin down
to eleven seconds as she handed over to third and final leg runner Gemma Floyd.
Floyd also battled hard, but couldn’t quite match the pace of the very much younger Sophie Burnett of Birtley,
who went on to take the title with just over a minute to spare, as Floyd got round in a very respectable 13m11s,
to maintain second place spot ahead of Gateshead.
Meanwhile the Morpeth Harriers Senior Women’s B team finished a very respectable seventh,
courtesy of Abby Sheldon (14m25s), Catriona MacDonald (13m42s),
and another competitive comeback athlete Sarah Wilkinson,
who is also the Morpeth Women’s Team Manager (12m45s),
and who certainly led by example with this performance.
Morpeth Harriers also had a Women’s C team competing,
who finished 22nd out of the 52 teams, courtesy of Hannah Rank (14m12s),
Lizzie Rank (15m05s), and Jess Swindells (15m01s).
A very strong performance by Morpeth Harriers Veteran Men,
saw them take the winners title by a twenty six second margin,
ahead of second placed Tyne Bridge Harriers, who made an excellent start,
and led throughout the first two of four 2.2mile legs.
Fergus Bates had Morpeth well placed on leg one,
when he came home in third place in 11m18s,
only fourteen seconds adrift of the leaders.
Mick Thomsen battled hard to maintain a top three position on second leg,
but slipped back to fourth despite his clocking of 12m15s.
All was to change however on leg three, as Michael Morris,
another Morpeth Harrier making a competitive comeback,
moved his club into a five second lead with his clocking of 11m10s,
as he handed over to final leg runner John Butters.
Butters, the current Veteran Men’s course record holder
got round in an identical time to Morris,
to clinch an excellent team victory.
Morpeth Harriers Veteran Men’s B team
finished in seventh place out of 47 complete teams,
which also included a Morpeth C team,
who finished in 28th place overall.
The Morpeth B team consisted of Rob Hancox (12m15s),
Alistair MacDonald (12m36s), Tim Miley (12m31s),
and Paul Waterston (12m24s).
Meanwhile the Morpeth C team saw Jim Alder (13m39s),
Steve Garrett (16m51s), David Nicholson (13m30s),
and Michael Winter (13m25s) in competitive action.
Morpeth Harriers two Veteran Women’s squads finished in
15th and 24th places respectively in their 3 x 2.2mile event,
out of 36 complete teams on the course.
Their B team was their first of the two finishers, courtesy
of Jane Kirby (15m37s), Jacinta Wake (16m47s), and Shuna Rank (15m49s).
The A team squad was Carol Parry (16m03s),
Claire Walker (17m22s), and Susan Smith (16m48s).
Morpeth Harriers had two individual winners in the younger age group 1.6mile events,
plus an outstanding team victory in the Under 15 Boys event.
Led by Daniel Dixon, who broke the course record, when he clocked 7m56s,
for individual victory, excellent added team support by
Taylor Glover (2nd) 8m10s, and Ross Charlton (5th) 8m25s,
ensured a rampant success for Morpeth.
Also prominent for the club in this event was Matthew Waterfield,
who managed to finish tenth in 8m54s.
A superb individual run by Lily Heaton of Morpeth,
saw her win the Under 13 Girls event in 9m30s,
breaking the old course record by one second,
a time clocked by second placed Rebecca Wren of Gosforth Harriers.
Morpeth Harriers Under 13 Boys finished as fourth team,
courtesy of Andrew Hudspith (6th) 9m20s,
an excellent debut by young Alex Porteous,
who finished tenth in 9m47s, and Reece Garrett (30th) 11m49s.
Ten athletes from Morpeth Harriers certainly showed that they are equally as happy,
and just as adept, when they competed in the Brough Law Fell Race,
set in the splendour of the very picturesque Ingram Valley in Northumberland,
on Sunday 13th March 2016.
Organised by Morpeth Harrier John Butters, with assistance from some of our club members,
on behalf of Northumberland Fell Runners, it was indeed an excellent event,
enjoyed by all of the 82 finishers, with the first athlete Lee Bennett of NFR and Elswick Harriers
completing the tough hilly terrain in 37m45s,
and the last finisher George Routledge of Heaton Harriers,
completing the course in 83m01s.
Had Butters himself been able to take time off from his organising skills,
he would have certainly been contesting the winners spot.
This left an open door for prolific Morpeth Harriers road runner Mark Snowball,
to take the mantle as first home for the club, finishing third in 38m38s,
just under a minute adrift of winner Bennett.
Second place went to David Beech of NFR, who clocked 37m59s.
Next home for Morpeth was Mark Cockburn, who was fifth in 39m42s.
Colin Archer was the third Morpeth finisher, in 15th place in 43m15s.
Other Morpeth Harriers finishers in the event were,
Paul Banks (26th) (3rd O/40 Man) 45m37s,
Philip Kirby (36th) (2nd U18 Boy) 48m20s,
Richard Kirby (40th) (6th O/40 Man) 49m00s,
Gary Mason (41st) (5th O/45 Man) 49m11s,
Andrew Richardson (43rd) 49m26s,
Mike Steven (51st) (4th O/55 Man),
and Jane Briggs (53rd) (3rd O/45 Lady) (4th Lady) 52m34s.