Sixteen of Morpeth Harriers talented athletes took part in the fifth and penultimate North
Eastern Grand Prix Meeting, held at Jarrow’s Monkton Stadium, on the evening of
Wednesday 21 st July.
It was again an excellent night for competition, with barely a whisper of wind, and warm
sunshine, as a total of fourteen personal bests were set by the clubs’ contingent.
The majority of athletes competed in the 1500m events, and Morpeth very nearly produced a
winner in Alistair Douglass, who lost out by just under two seconds to Blyth’s Josh
Fiddaman in the fastest of the three- and three-quarter lap events.
Douglass, who two nights previously, had got under four minutes for the distance for the first
time, managed to improve on his best by a further second, as he crossed over the finish line in
Three places behind Douglass was his Under 23 club colleague Daniel Melling, who had also
raced alongside him at Chester Le Street two nights previously, however on this occasion not
quite bettering his time, as he clocked 4m08.33s.
Further back in the field were another four Morpeth Harriers.
Finishing in eighth place was Under 17 athlete Bertie Marr, who marginally bettered his
previous figures, when he clocked 4m12.47s.
Close finishers behind Marr were Joseph Anderson and Joe Dixon, who were ninth and tenth,
with respective personal bests of 4m13.52s, and 4m13.98s.
For Under 20 athlete Anderson, it was a three second improvement, and for Under 17 athlete
Dixon, a massive thirty-two seconds.
Morpeth’s Ryan Davies, also an Under 17 Man, was twelfth finisher in 4m18.95s.
Three Morpeth Harriers faced the starter in the second fastest 1500m.
They all produced personal best performances when finishing fourth, fifth, and sixth
Leading the trio home was Under 17 athlete Ralph Robson, who improved on his previous
best by nine seconds, with his clocking of 4m25.94s.
Joseph Close, who is still an Under 15 athlete, clocked 4m29.50s, which was a seven second
Completing the trio, was relative newcomer Cameron Mullarkey, who took a massive eleven
seconds off his previous figures, when he finished in 4m31.46s.
Two Morpeth Harriers lined up in the third fastest 1500m.
Over 50 Veteran Jason Dawson was more than pleased to finish third, posting a time of
4m44.48s, which was a seven second improvement.
Two places behind Jason was Morpeth Under 15 athlete Oliver Tomlinson, who improved on
his best by four seconds, as he clocked 4m46.44s.
For the second time in 48 hours, Morpeth Under 17 Woman Caitlin Flanagan improved her
1500m personal best.
She finished third in the fourth fastest race in 5m06.39s, which was a four second
Three places behind Caitlin was her Under 15 Morpeth club colleague Tabitha Robson,
younger sister of Ralph, who improved he 1500m best by a massive seventeen seconds, with
her clocking of 5m09.53s.
In the fifth fastest 1500m, Morpeth’s Senior Woman Tayla Murdy ran an excellent race to
finish fifth, posting a finishing time of 5m29.13s, a three second improvement on her
Morpeth’s Emma Tomlinson, younger sister of Oliver, finished tenth in the sixth fastest of
the 1500m events, posting a new personal best of 5m53.24s.
The Under 13 Girl took three seconds off her previous figures for the distance.
Two Morpeth Harriers who had competed in the 1500m, also took the opportunity to try the
shorter distance of 400m.
Under 15 athlete Joseph Close, competing over the single lap for the first time, finished
second in the third fastest race in a brisk 60.33s.
In the second fastest of the 400m events, Over 50 Veteran Jason Dawson finished sixth in
59.56s, his second personal best of the night.
Having her first competitive outing of the season, Morpeth Under 17 sprinter Mia Belton
finished sixth in the third fastest 100m event in 13.05s, just over a second adrift of her
There were no competitors from Morpeth Harriers in the accompanying Field Events.
The inaugural Redcar 5 Mile race took place in hot and sunny conditions on Sunday, organised by New Marske Harriers.
The new course replaced the old Locke Park 5 Mile Pie and Peas race and was planned to be two laps of the esplanade in Redcar.
The event went ahead despite a police incident about half an hour before the event which resulted in the central part of the course being taped off and closed.
On a hastily-rearranged course, 120 runners found themselves running 3 laps up some of the esplanade and around zetland park. The course was around 0.25 miles short of the measured 5 miles.
Winners were Lewis Gamble Smith (24.03) and Kay Neesam (29.08), both of the host club.
Morpeth's only representative was Al MacDonald who finished in 20th place (3rd Male Over 50) in a time of 29.07.
Saturday saw the long-anticipated return of popular Parkrun events nationally, with the 5k time trials back on at local spots in Newbiggin, Druridge Bay and Blyth.
As expected there were big numbers at all events, although the 225 finishers at the most popular local fixture at Druridge Bay couldn’t match the 471 who took part on the Town Moor in Newcastle or the 390 at Whitley Bay.
The Druridge Bay Parkrun saw Matty Briggs first home in 16m 34s with teenager Liam Roche next home in 17m 5s. John Butters was 4th (17m 40s) and Ian Harding 5th (17m 57s). Cat Macdonald was first female finisher in 8th place.
Briggs’s first place was matched at Blyth, where Connor Marshall was first back in 15m 59s with James Tilley 4th in 18m 4s, although the numbers were surprisingly low, with less than 200 finishing.
Mark Snowball was first home for Morpeth at Newbiggin, finishing 2nd in 18m 19s, with some 118 completing.
Andy Lawrence was first finisher at Whitley Bay in 16m 11s, all the more remarkable as he had chosen to resurrect his banana costume as worn in the London Marathon a few years ago. Sadly, he was unable to provide us with his splits.
Finally, fans of TV’s Eggheads may care to note the presence of CJ de Mooi on the Town Moor - where he ran a very respectable 17m 39s for an 84% age-graded percentage.
With the easing of lockdown restrictions, road racing in its traditional form returned to the North East last Thursday with the running of the Sunderland 5k, hosted once again by Sunderland Harriers and incorporating this year both the NE and the NCAA Road Championships.
On a cloudy but humid evening the two-lap course around the fishing lakes at the Silksworth Sports Complex again incorporated two separate events, the earlier Women’s and Men Over 50 race, followed half an hour later by the Senior Men and Over 40s.
Morpeth’s Cat Macdonald, now back in the North East after a few years resident in Scotland, recorded an excellent victory by some ten seconds in the women’s race with a time of 17 minutes 28 seconds for the 5k course. Sophie Cowper of Rotherham AC was 2nd in 17m 39s with Molly Pace of Jesmond Joggers 3rd in 18m.
Over 50 veteran Lee Bennett was 3rd overall in 16m 53s in a strong category, with the race won by Darlington Harrier John Clifford in 16m 12s. Behind Bennett, Alistair Macdonald had a good run to finish 28th in 18m 44s behind daughter Cat. Evergreen Over 65s Gavin Bayne and Dave Nicholson were 44th and 57th respectively with times of 19m 28s and 20m 29s.
Also running were Peter Scaife, 94th in 22m 56s; Jill Bennett, 117th in 25m 42s; and Margaret Macdonald, 125th in 27m 51s.
The Senior Men’s race was won by Carl Smith of Tyne Bridge Harriers with a strong showing of 14m 42s with Sunderland Harrier Liam Taylor 2nd (14m 52s) and Dave Green of North Shields Polytechnic Harriers 3rd (14m 56s).
First home for Morpeth was Ross Floyd, 5th in 14m 58s, with Tom Straughan, in his first outing for a while, 12th in 15m 32s.
Straughan was chased every inch of the way by young Joe Dixon, whose 15m 35s was a big personal best and left Joe with a deserved huge smile on his face.
There were some seven other Morpeth finishers, with Andy Lawrence the best of them in 21st (15m 47s). Behind him, Richard Johnson was 35th in 16m 8s; John Butters 44th in 16m 35s; Mark Snowball, 53rd in 16m 48s; Gary Jones, 61st in 16m 55s; Anthony Janetta, in his first race in Morpeth colours, 75th in 17m 25s; and Eric Adams, 121st in 19m 34s. With alphabetically-ordered numbers, Eric also had the added distinction of having to wear the number ‘1!
The overall feeling of the night, shared by competitors and spectators alike, was one of both joy and relief at the return of road racing without the restrictions that have necessarily been in place for so long, and pleasure in catching up with colleagues and rivals from other North East clubs.
Morpeth Harriers had four athletes in action at the North East BMC Meeting, held at Chester Le Street on the evening of Monday 19 July, and all of them managed to achieve new personal best performances in the 1500m events.
Senior Man Alistair Douglass won the second fastest heat of the night in 3m59.04s, taking just over four seconds off his previous figures.
Three places behind him was club colleague Daniel Melling.
Under 20 athlete Daniel, also produced new figures of 4m05.74s, taking a second off his previous best time.
In the third fastest race, Under 17 athlete Ryan Davies finished fifth, posting a new personal best of 4m15.68s, which reflected just over a three second improvement.
To make a superb night for the club, Under 17 Woman Caitlin Flanagan finished eighth in the seventh fastest race of the night, establishing new figures of 5m10.23s, marking an improvement of just over four seconds.