Posting a picture of herself on her hands and knees, a devastated Laura Weightman confided on social media on Thursday that she would be unable to take part in the British Athletics Championships at Manchester at the weekend.
‘It breaks my heart that I won’t be on the start line’, she confided, revealing a small hamstring injury sustained in training the previous week had ruled her out.
Having competed in two previous Olympic games, the Championships were also doubling as trials for Tokyo Olympics selection, and Laura was strongly placed to make it three in a row.
While she held the Olympic qualifying time already, having run 14 minutes 35.54 seconds in Monaco in August of last year, she was dependent both on the discretion of the selectors as to whether she would be selected and also on her injury clearing up in time.
Sadly, the selectors announced the British team on Tuesday evening, naming Eilish McColgan in both the 5000 and 10000m and so confirming Laura will be missing out; a very hard cross to bear after being in a rich vein of form last year despite all that was going on in the world.
On Sunday the 5000m was won by Blackburn’s Jess Judd in a time of 15:10.54 with Amy Markovic of Wakefield in second place. Both athletes also hold the Olympic qualifying time and will definitely be going.
On the previous afternoon, three Morpeth Harriers took place in track finals.
Qualifying strongly on the Friday night for the Men’s 1500m final with a time of 3:45.78, James Young took his place in a large field of some fifteen runners less than 24 hours later.
A slow-paced first 400m saw Young venture to the front on the second lap, with the pace cranking up in the second part of a race eventually won by Josh Kerr of Edinburgh AC in 3:40.72 with club colleague Jake Wightman second in 3:40.77.
Young finished in 9th place in a time of 3:45.51, a little adrift of his personal best set in April in the States of 3:37.72, but will certainly have profited from the outing.
A couple of hours later Morpeth Harriers Scott Beattie and Rory Leonard took part in the Men’s 5000m, a straight final.
Another initially tactical race, experienced international Andrew Butchart of Central AC surged powerfully with less than 600m to go but was unable to shake off Patrick Dever of Preston, Dever winning in a time of 13:37.30.
Beattie, who had travelled over from the States where, like Young, he is studying, had a good run to record a personal best of 13:58. 14 when finishing in 11th place and will undoubtedly have profited from the experience. Leonard was, sadly, one of four athletes, however, who did not finish the race.
There was some consolation for Leonard, however, with news that his selection for GB in the European Under 23 Championships, now scheduled for Tallinn in July, has been confirmed.
Two ex-Morpeth Harriers took part in the Men’s Shot Putt event on the Sunday, with Andrew Knight, now based on the South coast with City of Portsmouth, finishing in 6th with a best of 16.05 metres and Craig Charlton, now of Woodford Green, throwing 14.86 for 9th. Scott Linden of York was the only athlete to record an over 20 metre throw in winning (2.22m).
Regional schools action finally resumed at Gateshead Stadium on Saturday, 19 June, with the holding of a combined Northumberland Championship.
The event incorporated a trials event for any athlete with a distinct possibility of an English Schools Championship, which will be held in Manchester, scheduled dates of 9-11 July.
Several Morpeth Harriers figured amongst the Northumberland contingent, most notably Intermediate Boy, and Under 17 Man Edward Gardiner, whose progression in his chosen Hammer event has been quite remarkable, considering the pandemic, and a distinct lack of competition.
Edward has worked extremely hard under the continued diligence and guidance of his coach Neil Ellerby, with the occasional help of his elder sister Jessica, herself an accomplished Hammer thrower, although injured at present, and dedicated father Alan, who ferries the siblings to varied venues, seeking competition opportunities for the talented pair.
On Saturday, Edward truly excelled, and within his series of throws, he managed a new personal best of 33.83m with the 5kg implement, a performance, whilst raising a few eyebrows, also makes him thirty second in the UK, and well out in front regionally.
He improved on his previous best by around 3.89m, and looking further ahead, he is now focussed on improving on all of this and gaining the opportunity of hopefully competing at the English Schools in 2022.
Watch this space.
In addition to Gardiner, another five Morpeth Harriers achieved personal bests in respective events.
Under 15 Boy Oliver Tomlinson improved his 1500m time, when he posted 4m50.5s, when winning the Junior Boys event, taking approximately two seconds off his previous figures.
In the Intermediate Boys 1500m, Under 17 Man Bertie Marr finished third in a new personal best of 4m12.8s, taking just over seven seconds off his previous figures for the distance.
Joe Anderson was unfortunately a couple of seconds adrift of his personal best, when he finished second in the Senior Boys event in 4m18.2s.
Morpeth Harriers had two athletes in the Intermediate Girls line-up.
Caitlin Flanagan finished sixth in 5m40.0s, and Sophie Cunningham was two places behind her, posting s new personal best of 6m11.2s.
Moving down to 800m, and Junior Boy Joseph Close posted a time of 2m14.6s, when finishing second.
In the Intermediate Boys 800m, Liam Roche shaved a fraction of a second off his best time, when placing fourth in 2m06.3s.
Moving up to 3000m, and Joe Dixon clocked a new personal best of 9m23.7s, when finishing fourth in the Intermediate Boys event, taking a massive twenty-five seconds off his previous figures, set at Gateshead in August 2019.
Last but certainly not least is Triple Jump specialist Charlotte Earl, who won her event with a best of 10.24m.
Morpeth Harriers' young athletes had to settle for a disappointing fifth-place finish in the second round North East Youth Development League fixture at Middlesbrough Sports Village on Sunday, 20 June.
Hosts Harrogate clearly won the Division 1 Match, with North Shields Poly just over two hundred points adrift in second place.
Third place went to the combined squad of Darlington/Allerton, with Gateshead Harriers finishing fourth.
A mere twenty points divided Darlington/Allerton and the fifth-placed Morpeth squad, however at the foot of the table was the combined force of Blyth/Alnwick, who were nearly two hundred points further adrift.
Morpeth were again burdened by not being able to turn out enough athletes, as only 36 offered their services on the day - 22 boys and 14 girls.
All of this left a great amount of work having to be carried out by those who did take part.
Team managers Mark Brown and Vina Desai will now be hoping for a bigger show of support for the club at the next fixture, on home soil at KEVI School, on Saturday, 17 July.
On Sunday, the best of the Morpeth performances came from their Under 17 Men, where the club enjoyed six event victories, four A String, and two B String amongst them.
Two of those A String Victories in the Under 17 Men belonged to Will DeVere Owen, who won the 800m in 2m06.64s, agonisingly only a mere fraction adrift of his personal best of 2m06.2s, plus for the second match in a row, he tackled the 400m Hurdles alone, this time posting a modest 94.42s.
Liam Roche confirmed maximum points for his club, by winning the 800m B Race in 2m08.61s.
Morpeth Harriers secured another Under 17 Men’s double victory, courtesy of Bertie Marr, and new recruit Cameron Mullarkey in the 1500m.
Marr comfortably won the A Race, going to the front after 400m, and front running to the finish line, which he crossed in 4m25.17s, which was excellent, as twenty-four hours earlier he had clocked a new personal best of 4m12.8s for the distance at the Northumberland and Durham Schools Trials Meeting at Gateshead Stadium.
Meanwhile Mullarkey was more than pleased to make an early mark in his new sport and club, by taking the B Race in 4m42.49s, but not before winning a late battle to the line with club colleague Matthew Walton, who posted a time of 4m43.63s, in what was also his first race over the three- and three-quarter lap distance.
Morpeth’s other Under 17 Men’s winner was specialist Hammer Thrower Edward Gardiner, who threw 32.68m, having also posted a new personal best of 33.83m in the Schools Hammer Final at Gateshead the previous day.
Gardiner also added to his individual success in Sunday’s match, by producing a best of 29.2m in the Discus, only just losing out for victory to Harrogate’s William Reid by a mere fraction.
Evan Logan continued his sprints education well for Morpeth, as he finished second and third in the A Race events of the 100m and 200m, posting respective timings of 12.36s and 25.47s, which were just a fraction adrift of his personal best performances.
Backing Evan up for Morpeth in the 200m B Race was Liam Roche, who finished fourth in 27.47s, which for him was a new personal best.
Joseph Close convincingly secured a handsome victory in the Under 15 Boys 800m A Race in 2m18.94s, and Elliot Mavir made his victory much sweeter for Morpeth, as he secured a B Race win in 2m28.21s, which saw him take three seconds off his previous figures for the distance.
Close also showed great improvement in the later run 300m event, where he finished third in 44.29s, a new personal best.
In the Under 15 Boys 1500m, Oliver Calvert finished third in the A Race inn 4m55.29s a new personal best, and his Morpeth clubmate Oliver Tomlinson took the B Race in 5m00.63s.
Conner Phillips finished third for Morpeth in the A Race of the Under 15 Boys 100m, posting a time of 13.01s, which was a new personal best for the emerging talented sprinter, and Owen Omoigui finished second in the B Race in 13.33s.
In the 80m Hurdles, Morpeth newcomer Quinlan Cowell finished third in the A Race in 17.1s, and clubmate Sam Livingstone also finished third in the B Race in 17.63s.
Morpeth Harriers Under 13 Boys, of whom only a disappointing six turned out, did not achieve any on the day wins, however the best they did achieve were four second places, one third place, and a fourth.
Two of those second places went to William Hodgson, who was second in the 100m A Race (14.24s), and the 200m A Race (28.93s).
Both performances marked a very sound debut.
Backing up William in the respective B String events were George Mavir, and Daniel Scott, who finished second and third respectively with timings of 15.36s, and 32.28s.
For Mavir, it was his first outing in a Morpeth vest, and Scott was only a minute fraction adrift of his personal best.
Other good performances in the Under 13 Boy events came from Kyle Phillips and Toby Marr, who were second and fourth respectively in the A and B String Long Jump, producing bests of 3.83m and 3.29m.
It was Phillips’s first attempt at the event, and for Marr, it represented a new personal best performance.
Morpeth Harriers small band of five Under 15 Girls managed some of the clubs best Female results on the day.
Freya Caygill, and Victoria Hodgson made a most enterprising duo in the sprint events.
In the 100m Caygill finished as third A String in 13.38s, and Hodgson won the B event in 13.50s.
Both of these clocking’s represented new personal best performances.
In the 200m, Caygill finished second in the A event in 27.76s, and Hodgson was also second in the B Race in 28.29s.
This was another personal best for Caygill, and Hodgson was only a mere fraction adrift of bettering her figures.
Morpeth had another winner in the 300m, when Amelia Hamlin took the A Race in 45.29s, which was her first ever outing over the distance.
Tabitha Robson finished fourth in the 300m B Race in 51.23s, which was almost two seconds off her previous best over the same distance at the previous fixture at Middlesbrough in May.
Morpeth’s exceedingly small band of Under 13 Girls, all seven of them, did their level best to make some vital contributions to their clubs disappointing tally.
Molly Roche bravely tackled the 70m Hurdles for the first time, getting over all obstacles to finish fourth in 16.62s.
Roche also finished fourth in the A Race of the 1500m, posting a finishing time of 6m00.89s, which was a new personal best, improving on her previous figures by almost five seconds.
Charlotte Marshall ran well to finish as second B String in 6m03.84s, again a personal best, improving on previous figures by an excellent twelve seconds.
Other good Under 13 Girls performances came in the 800m, where Emma Tomlinson posted 2m47.80s to finish fourth in the A Race, taking almost a second off her previous figures, and Megan Potrac finished as fourth in the B Race in 2m53.42s, her first ever run over the distance.
Morpeth Harriers two Under 17 Women, Ellie Wickens and Olivia Gent did their best to achieve some respectability to the result, but being low in number, it was very much an uphill climb.
Wickens for her part finished fourth in the A Race of the 200m, posting 29.4s, and Gent posted 29.73s, agonisingly just a mere fraction adrift of her personal best, when finishing second in the B Race.
Gent also finished second in the Triple Jump, producing a personal best of 8.86m, and Wickens got another fourth in the Javelin, with 13.12m, again a new personal best.
There were no less than nine golds, three silvers, one bronze, and two new championship records for the Morpeth Harriers veterans who took part in the North East Masters Track and Field Championships on Saturday at Monkton Stadium, Jarrow.
Chief amongst them was Over 65 Gavin Bayne, who came home with a haul of three golds after wins in the 800m, 1500m and 5000m, a tremendous series on one afternoon.
Victory in the 5000m over club colleague and rival Dave Nicholson was particularly hard fought, with Nicholson tracking him every inch of the way till the last 200m, but having to settle for a silver, Bayne recording a time of 19 minutes 26.49 seconds.
The two championship records were set by Over 70 Pam Woodcock as she took gold in the 1500m in a time of 7:04:98, and by Over 75 Paul Bentley in the 5000m with a time of 24:58:05.
There were also Golds for O/50 Jason Dawson in both the 400m (59.58s) and 800m (2:15:34), for O/65 Paul Bellingham in the 800m (2:39:84)and for David McGucKin in the O/70 5000m (22:40:19).
Meanwhile, Archie Jenkins picked up a bronze in the O/65 1500m to add still further to his wide collection of track and field medals, gained over five decades of competition.
Sprinter Laura Kincaid was unlucky in having to settle for silver in all three sprints, finishing second to Darlington Harriers Sarah Johnson in the O/35s for 100m, 200m and Amy Pickworth in the 400m in a busy but productive afternoon.
The busiest athlete, however, was guesting Claire Reid who took part in all four throws.
She threw 9.40m for the O/40 shot putt, in fact the furthest thrown by any woman in the afternoon, and 30.26m in the discus, again the longest throw recorded. In the hammer, she was again first in her category with 25.13m and she also threw 15.29 in the javelin, finishing this time in 2nd.
Full results and photos on the NEMAA website.
The Sunderland City Runs returned over the weekend, with the 5k run starting on Saturday evening and the 10k and half marathon the following morning.
Morpeth Harrier Carl Avery was first home in the 5k in a time of 14 minutes 48 seconds, over ten seconds ahead of Tyne Bridge Harrier and training partner Finn Brodie in 15:01. Avery’s win is a fine return to form after a spell on the sidelines with injury.
The 10k was won by Ben Connor in 30:03 with Ross Floyd first home for Morpeth in 31:23. Fellow Harrier Shaun Land recorded a PB when placing 25th in a time of 37:53.
Full results for the weekend are available here.
Meanwhile, Gary Jones ran a time of 35:10 to finish 17th in the Run Nation 10k at Ouston Airfield on Sunday.