Several athletes from Morpeth Harriers were in competitive action at Sunday’s second NECAA Open Track and Field Meeting, held at Middlesbrough Sports Village.
Thankfully, the dreadful rainstorms of Saturday had abated, however a strong cool wind was still in evidence as athletes battled their way through the lengthy programme of events.
Two athletes who certainly got on with the job in hand were siblings Edward and Jessica Gardiner, who both competed in the mixed-age group Discus competition, and for once both in the same pool.
It was good for both of them, with the older Jessica, giving younger brother Edward much encouragement throughout their individual competitions.
For Edward it was a particularly successful day, as throwing the heavier 1.5k disc as a first year Under 17 Man, he managed a new massive personal best distance of 31.15m, taking almost two metres off his previous figures, a distance that also saw him now sit as number one regionally, and for a brief time took him into the top twenty in the UK rankings for his age group.
It also provided Edward with an on-the-day victory over his fellow Under 17 rivals, the closest challenge, coming from Gateshead Harrier Cameron Marshall (17.56m).
Jessica also triumphed on the day, producing a best of 32.16m with the 1k disc, which was a season’s best.
Jessica, who had competed in monsoon conditions at Hull on the previous day in an England Athletics Invitational event, won her Under 20 Women’s competition from Jarrow and Hebburn’s Ellie O’Halloran, who managed a best of 18.11m.
Neil Ellerby, who coaches both Edward and Jessica, is very pleased with the way their respective training is going and is confident that Edward will continue to push his PB even further over the season as he competes for various titles.
Another Morpeth Harriers field eventer in fine competitive action was Under 20 Female Charlotte Earl.
The Vina Desai-coached athlete won the Triple Jump, by producing an on-the-day best of 10.72m, also winning her age group from New Marske Harrier Libby Currie, who managed a best of 9.92m.
Morpeth’s other field eventer in action was Abbie Ross, who produced an on-the-day best of 4.74m in the Long Jump, winning the Under 20 Female competition.
On the track, Morpeth Harriers saw two on the day winners in the form of Joseph Close and William De Vere-Owen in separate 1500m events.
Close, who is still partly coached by Borders coach Henry Gray, has come on leaps, and bounds since linking up with Morpeth Harriers, and their middle-distance coach Mike Bateman, and on Sunday, he very clearly showed his depth of progress, when he took a whole twelve seconds off his previous 1500m figures.
The former Tweed Striders athlete very clearly won his three- and three-quarter lap heat in 4m36.10s, winning by just over six seconds from Under 15 Girl Charlotte Dillon of Durham City.
Closest finisher to Close in his own Under 15 Boys age group was Darlington Harrier Harry Lyons, who clocked 4m47.88s in the following race.
Under 17 athlete De Vere-Owen won that race in 4m20.12s, taking victory from Allerton Under 20 athlete Holden Outhwaite by just under two seconds.
Other Morpeth Harriers finishing in this event were fellow Under 17 Men, Liam Roche, who placed fifth in 4m23.52s, taking a whole five seconds off his previous figures, and Ryan Davies, who was sixth in 4m23.76s, after leading the field for part of the way.
In another 1500m event, Senior Man Alistair Douglass finished fourth in 4m03.36s, almost breaking his personal best, and Under 17 athlete Bertie Marr finished twelfth, setting new figures of 4m19.94s, taking four seconds off his previous best.
Molly Roche, younger sister of Liam, clearly enjoyed her first outing over 1500m, finishing fifth in a strong field of twelve.
The Under 13 athlete posted a time of 6m04.45s.
Very clearly all the athletes taking part enjoyed their day of competition, even though still being subject to strict Covid Regulations, compared to 2020, which saw a virtual washout on activity, which was not only a great loss to the sport, but also saw the loss of some good athletes.
Having already run an Under 23 5k European qualifying time in early April of 13m50.22s, Morpeth Harrier Rory Leonard further celebrated his latest call up to the forthcoming Olympic Trials for 1500m and 5000m, by producing a new personal best of 3m44.75s over 1500m, at Saturday night’s BMC Grand Prix Meeting, held at Stretford, Manchester.
Leonard finished sixth, behind Shaftesbury Barnet’s Jeremy Dempsey, who won in 3m42.49s.
Fellow Morpeth Harrier Joe Armstrong finished seventh in another race, producing a time of 3m52.38s.
Alex Brown pulled off a tremendous victory in the Mid-Cheshire 5k held on flat country roads at Kingsley on Friday evening.
With Liverpool Harrier and clear favourite Jonny Mellor going to the front from the start, the field was soon spread out with only Brown prepared to give chase to the 2020 British Marathon Champion and England international. Hanging in tenaciously as the gap extended to some twenty yards at one point, Brown found a tremendous burst of speed over the last 400 metres to haul Mellor back with a final margin of victory of only one second.
Brown’s clocking of 14 minutes 11 seconds was a new personal best and shows the tremendous progress the previously Lindsay Dunn coached athlete continues to make now under the guidance of Nathan Shrubb.
Behind Brown, fellow Morpeth Harrier George Lowry recorded a time of 14m 34s in 13th place, just off his personal best.
Facebook link to the event video: www.facebook.com/MidCheshire5k/videos/1464658873900136/
After the whole of the 2020 North Eastern Grand Prix programme had to be cancelled due to the pandemic, it was a welcome occasion for organisers and athletes as competitive action returned to the Track at Monkton Stadium, Jarrow, on Wednesday 28 April.
The opening fixture of the 2021 series of events was held under current Covid regulations, which were required to be observed by competitors and officials alike. The regulations meant that a holding area was required for all events, and the numbers allowed in each event needed to conform to restrictions.
Nevertheless, the complete meeting took two hours forty minutes, and the evening was well subscribed, with all athletes at long last, very much welcoming a return to competitive action.
Events on the track were 75m, 150m, 300m and 1500m, with Field Events, comprising of Long Jump, Shot Putt and Javelin, having to be held over two pools of competitors, such was the demand for participation.
Amongst the athletes in action, were 16 from the ranks of Morpeth Harriers, of which 12 produced personal best performances, and three managed event wins.
Two of those wins came in the 1500m, where both Joseph Close and Connor Marshall produced excellent personal best performances.
In an event that also featured his Morpeth Harriers colleague Oliver Tomlinson, Close clocked 4m48.65s, to win by almost three seconds from Sunderland Harrier Jak Jarvis, with Tomlinson coming home in third place in a new personal best time of 4m52.08s.
Meanwhile, Marshall, in his 1500m, made the most of sitting behind his Morpeth colleague William De Vere Owen, throughout most of the three- and three-quarter laps, to make his deciding move at the bell, 400m remaining, to literally put the boot in and head for home.
As De Vere Owen led the chase, with company of Blaydon’s Will Collinson and Gosforth’s Reece Slater, Marshall continued his relentless pursuit for victory, and managed to hold on to win in a personal best time of 4m18.12s, taking almost a second off his previous figures.
Collinson managed to take second place, just ahead of third placed Slater, with De Vere Owen getting fourth in 4m18.98s, only a mere fraction of a second dividing all three minor places.
Under 17 athlete Ralph Robson led his heat of the 1500m for all of two laps, before finishing an eventual fourth in 4m34.4s.
Morpeth's third event victory of the night came from Under 17 sprinter Evan Logan, who was the third fastest in his age group in the 150m and was tenth fastest overall with his clocking of 17.47s.
Behind him in fourth place was fellow Morpeth Harrier Jessica Young-Rogers, now
competing as a Senior Woman. Young-Rogers produced new figures for 150m of 18.72s.
Back with the 1500m, and Ryan Davies took a whole nine seconds off his previous figures, when placing ninth in his heat, in an excellent 4m18.88s for the Under 17 youngster.
In the fastest 1500m heat, Kieran Hedley finished sixth in 4m00.76s, with fellow Morpeth Harrier Alistair Douglass three places behind him in 4m08.68s.
Morpeth Under 20 Woman Kate Gaffing produced an excellent personal best performance of 5m20.58s, when finishing third in her 1500m, two places ahead of fellow club colleague Kate Kennedy, who clocked 5m26.91s.
For Gaffing, the improvement was a whole twenty seconds, and for Kennedy, it represented
an improvement by three seconds. Caitlin Flanagan finished sixth in her 1500m heat, clocking 5m14.48s, which was a new personal best by three seconds.
Oliver Tomlinson’s younger sister Emma, who is an Under 13 athlete, finished ninth in her first outing over the 1500m distance, producing a time of 5m59.38s, finishing one place ahead of Morpeth Harriers Over 60 Veteran Andrew Dippie, who clocked 6m00.42s.
Morpeth's other athlete in action was Abbie Ross, who was fifth in her pool of the Long Jump, and was second Female, producing a best effort of 4.68m.
Organisers hope that the second meeting of the North East Grand Prix will go ahead as planned on Wednesday 19 May, again at Monkton Stadium, when athletes will compete over 800m for the Jimmy Hedley Cup, presented annually in honour of the legendary Jarrow and Hebburn coach, who was responsible for the early career successes of Internationals Steve Cram and David Sharpe.