Morpeth’s Senior Women’s squad were delighted gold medallists at the annual NECAA Signals Relays at Hetton Lyons Country Park on Saturday 31st August 2019, while their Senior Men and Over 40 Veterans both picked up silver medals.
Although the race had been moved this year from its traditional Spring time slot in the fixture calendar, the course itself remained the same – a 2.2 mile, two lap hilly leg for each runner twice round the lake, although the late scheduling did mean that the number of teams looked well down on previous years.
Running at the same time as the Over 50 men, Morpeth’s women were led off by Cat Macdonald who clocked 13 minutes 1 second and had the team in a good second place. Second leg runner and veteran Claire Calverley had only been drafted into the team at short notice on Friday night, but she stuck at her task gamely to keep the team in contention ((15m 24s) although the lead passed to Wallsend Harriers thanks to a flying fastest leg of the day by Danielle Hodgkinson of 11m 49s.
Another runner not overawed at making a Senior Women’s team debut was Sarah Lawson on leg 3, whose gutsy 15m 41s meant that, at the end of her leg, the club was now in fifth place with the lead having passed to Gateshead Harriers with Houghton Harriers in pursuit.
It was down to Rachelle Falloon to reel in the four teams ahead of her, and this she set about doing with a controlled and determined performance, passing Houghton’s last leg runner, Anna Pigford, with only a few hundred metres to go and in doing so clocking 12m 45s, the second fastest overall women’s time of the day to put the team in a winning position for a very pleasing gold medal with an overall time of 56m 51s. Houghton were 2nd, only 5 seconds behind, with Elswick in 3rd.
In a women’s veteran competition won by North Shields Polytechnic Harriers in a time of 59m 39s, Morpeth’s veteran women, represented by Jill Bennett (16m 48s), Sue Smith (16m 41s), Pam Woodcock (17m 38s) and Lesley Chapman (17m 35s) finished as a respectable 10th veteran team.
Meanwhile in a strong Over 50 men’s team competition won by Sunderland Harriers from NSP (times of 52m 20s and 54m 16s) the club’s two teams were 8th and 12th. With a couple of leading Over 50s out and two more drafted into the O/40s team, these were decent showings, although ironically, with the World Vets imminent, Guy Bracken for once didn’t turn out for the Poly.
For the A team, Phil Walker had the fastest run after a long spell out from an injury from which he is still recovering with a time of 13m 28s. Paul Bellingham (choosing not to run in the scheduled-on-the-same-day Bellingham Show…) clocked 14m 59s, Paul Brown, another runner in his first competitive outing since an operation, 14m 49s, and Ben Abbott 15m 2s for an overall clocking of 58m 18s. In a B team featuring a couple of 60 + athletes, Kevin Bray ran 15m 13s, Bill Tilley 15m 25s, Steve Johnstone 15m 33s and Jim Alder ‘the younger’ 15m 39s. Special mention should be made of Jim, who opted to run through the pain barrier to make a full team up when clearly not 100%.
The six leg Senior Men and Over 40 male veterans race followed, and here Morpeth were always in the mix with local rivals Sunderland Harriers, Gateshead, Tyne Bridge and Houghton.
Youngster Rowan Bennett got the club off to a good start despite being the youngest runner of the leg with a clocking of 11m 11s but after Joe Armstrong’s blistering 10m 43s on leg 2 – the fastest time of the day - the club had moved into the lead. Tom Innes’ 11m 40s meant the club were still just ahead at the end of leg 3, but were now being hunted down by Sunderland, Houghton and Tyne Bridge. However, on leg 4 Ross Floyd, in his first competitive outing for several months, ran 11m 29s to maintain the lead.
Unfortunately, strong runs on the last two legs by Sunderland Harriers, who had a good day in the men’s competitions all round, meant that despite the best efforts of Jordan Scott (11m 58s) and Kieran Hedley (11m 30s) the club could only manage second place and narrowly missed out on retaining the trophy they had held for several years by a final margin of only some 21 seconds and an overall time of 1:08:31.
An incomplete B team featured Andy Lawrence (11m 41s), Mark Snowball (12m 1s) and Richard Johnson (11m 46s); credit to them for turning out in an incomplete team.
It was a similar story in the Over 40 veteran’s race with the club again losing out to Sunderland. Ahead of next week’s Great North Run, Tony Lewis had a good first leg of 12m 36s to put the club in a second place they never lost, with Over 50 veteran Lee Bennett recording the team’s fastest leg of the day with 12m 25s. Jamie Johnson ran 13m 35s on leg 2, and Paul Waterston, like Lee, stepped down with a decent clocking of 13m 16s. Men’s team manager Dave Swinburne showed he continues to make progress on the road back with 13m 08s on leg 5 and Jason Dawson brought the team home in 13m 27s for an overall clocking of 1:18:27. A strong Sunderland team, who actually finished in 8th overall place in the race in 1:15:32 finished well over two minutes ahead,
however. Missing a number of leading runners like the Senior Men, a silver was nevertheless a creditable performance and the team were actually 13th overall, ahead of the Senior teams of Jarrow, Crook and NSP.
Overall then, considering the late and rather inconvenient scheduling
and the absences of a number of male and female athletes, a successful day.
The Club are very saddened and shocked to learn that on Monday afternoon (26th August), George Young,
our friend and fellow club servant passed away following a great fight against a progressive illness.
George joined Morpeth Harriers a few years ago, after a long, and fairly prolific competitive career with Blyth Running Club, where in his later days, he had also assisted as a Club Coach, helping to cultivate the development of some of their growing numbers of younger talents, who included his own son James.
It was when James joined up with Morpeth Harriers to further his own competitive ambitions, that George decided to follow him, and he joined the ranks of our own much needed coaching staff, helping mainly with the progressive Middle-Distance Groups, coached by Mike Bateman.
George soon proved himself to be a real asset, and being a most knowledgeable
and likeable man, he quickly fitted into a new club setup.
The club are extremely grateful to George for all of the time and hard work he has carried out over the last few years, and he will be very sadly missed by all who worked alongside him, and indeed grew to know him as a very pleasant and gentle man, and someone who would go out of his way to be of assistance in whatever task was given to him.
He had a great relationship with some of the club’s younger talents, that, in itself a very precious
and special virtue, and in that respect will be very sorely missed by all who knew him and respected him.
At this time, Morpeth Harriers & AC, and its members, offer their deepest condolences and thoughts to George’s Wife Catherine, Son James, Daughter Louise, and all other close family members, at their time of extreme sadness.
The funeral Service for George took place
on Friday 6th September 2019 at 12.15pm at Cowpen Crematorium.
This was followed by refreshments at Blyth Golf Club,
to which all friends were invited by George’s family, in his honour.
Kaitlyn Waddell, Amy Lott, Georgia Taylor, and Ryan and Sam Davies of Morpeth Harriers,
all competed in the annual Tartan Games Open Meeting, organised by Gateshead Harriers,
and held on Bank Holiday Monday (26th August 2019).
Busiest of all the five athletes was Under 13 Girl Waddell, who competed
in no less than three individual events on the day.
Her best performance came in the 70m Hurdles Final, which she won quite handsomely in a time of 13.04s.
She went on also to finish second in the High Jump, producing a personal best clearance of 1.40m,
and for the first time, produced a Putt of 6.49m, to finish fourth in the Shot.
Also competing in the Shot Putt from Morpeth Harriers was Georgia Taylor, who finished second,
with a best effort of 6.87m, this also marking a first outing in a Blue and White vest.
Another Morpeth winner on the day was Under 17 Woman Amy Lott,
who was the victor of a two-horse race in the 80m Hurdles Final.
The recent Scottish Bronze medallist clocked ac winning time of 12.22s.
Siblings Ryan and Sam Davies competed respectively in the Under 15 Boys Mile, and Year 3 Boys 400m Finals.
Ryan finished third in 5m21.97s, and the younger Sam finished second in 1m25.08s, both testing themselves over the respective distances for the first time.
Morpeth Harrier Laura Weightman was left feeling very disappointed by her performance in finishing third to Eilish McColgan in the televised Women’s 5000m Final at the annual British Athletics Championships,
held at Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium on Sunday 25th August 2019.
Posting a time of 15m36.73s, she was a good forty-five seconds down on her personal best for the distance, which she set in last months Anniversary Games in the Olympic Stadium in London
Meanwhile McColgan took an easy win in 15m21.38s, having front ran the race most of the way,
to take the much-prized British title, ahead of Blackburn’s Jessica Judd,
who held off a late Weightman challenge, to finish second in 15m35.82s.
McColgan is now a certainty to travel to Doha for next month’s World Championships
and may also be joined by Judd.
Weightman may get in on any discretionary place offered by the team selectors,
if they look at previous form, considering Sunday’s race was run in a very uncomfortable thirty degrees,
which saw four of the twenty declared athletes fail to finish, who included Shildon’s Kate Avery,
and Weightman’s fellow International rival Melissa Courtney of Wales.
New Morpeth acquisition Chris Parr went out in the heats of the Men’s 1500m on Saturday,
where he posted a time of 3m51.05s, finishing sixth in a race won by Edinburgh AC’s Jake Wightman.
Parr’s time was roughly nine seconds down on his personal best.
Another Morpeth Harrier in competitive action at the second day of the championships on Sunday was Shot Putt specialist Craig Charlton, who had won Gold at the previous week’s Scottish Championships at Grangemouth.
Against heavy strong opposition, Charlton finished down in tenth place in the contest, only managing three throws, of which his best effort was 14.64m, finishing slightly ahead of former Morpeth Harrier Andrew Knight (14.12m),
now competing for Southampton AC.
The competition was won by York’s Scott Lincoln, who managed six Putts,
although three were not scored, his winning Putt being an excellent 19.56m.
At the Scottish Under 17 and Senior Track and Field Championships, held at Grangemouth Stadium
on Sunday 18th August 2019, Morpeth’s Amy Lott followed up her younger sisters Gold Medal success
of the previous week, by taking a Bronze Medal in the Under 17 Women’s 80m Hurdles,
posting a finishing time of 11.97s, which was just a mere fraction outside her personal best.
Lott was headed by Scottish sisters, Coirilidh and Briagha Cook, who posted respective times of 11.77s and 11.92s.
Scotland is undoubtedly a happy hunting ground for Amy, having already won medals
both Indoor and Outdoor as an Under 15 athlete.
Also competing at the same event on Sunday 18th August, was fellow Morpeth Harrier Craig Charlton who won a Gold medal in the Senior Men’s Shot Putt, where he produced a best effort of 14.44m.