A memorial event to our late coach Lindsay Dunn is to be held on Friday 22 October from 4.30pm until 11pm at the Woodlands, Congburn Bank, Edmondsley DH7 6DY.
All are welcome but please reply using this form.
Two team silvers and a fifth place finish were the highlights for Morpeth Harriers of the Northern Athletics Autumn Road Relay Championships which took place on Saturday afternoon at Redcar and hosted by New Marske Harriers.
Drawing big-name teams from all over the North of England, the event was perhaps the most high-profile of its kind since the easing of lockdown, having been cancelled altogether in 2020, and the standard of competition was fierce with clubs from the North East well represented.
An out and back course along the flat Coast Road to the South of the town, closed to traffic, allied to some balmy conditions, made for some fast times and good spectating.
First in action for Morpeth were the girls Under 13 team, competing in an event of this nature for the first time. Emma Tomlinson on leg 1 ran the club’s fastest time of 13 minutes 2 seconds for the 3.1 kilometre course, with Molly Roche on leg 2 finishing in 13:24 and Charlotte Marshall bringing the team home in 14:20 in fourteenth place, with a strong Liverpool AC winning and their B team also finishing in third.
Next up over the same distance were the U/15 boys who were also up against some tough opposition from the other side of the country with teams from Wirral AC, Liverpool Harriers and AC and Blackburn.
It was City of York, however, who produced the fastest leg of the day on leg 1 with a clocking of 10:07 by Will Keens. Morpeth’s Oli Calvert came back in 5th place with 10:17, the 6th fastest time of the day, and Oliver Tomlinson got the team up to 2nd with 10:40 on leg 2, with Wirral AC now in the lead.
Joe Close for Morpeth had a real go on the last leg, but the gap to the Wirral athlete was just too big, and the team settled for an excellent silver medal with an overall clocking of 31:33, some thirty seconds behind the leader.
The Under 17 Men’s race, ran over a slightly longer distance of 3700m, was keenly anticipated with the club entering two complete teams of athletes who have enjoyed considerable success locally for a number of seasons and were hopeful of picking up medals.
Will de Vere Owen, winner of last weekend’s Junior GNR on the Quayside, came back in 11:13 for 5th place on leg 1, but only some 11 seconds behind early leaders Gateshead Harriers for whom Josh Blevins ran the day’s fastest time of 11:02.
Joe Dixon on leg 2 ran 11:27 and moved the club to 2nd place, again behind Wirral AC for whom Will Strickley ran the day’s 3rd fastest time.
On last leg Bertie Marr found the lead had by now gone out to thirty seconds and he had to settle, like the U/15s, for silver with a clocking of 11:53, the team finishing nearly 50 seconds behind an impressive Merseyside outfit. Morpeth’s team will take some comfort however in that they are at the bottom end of their age group and can return for another go in the same category next year.
The Morpeth B team of Liam Roche (11:46), Matt Walton (12:01) and Ryan Davies (11:59) also gave a highly respectable account of themselves, finishing in 7th place overall but, ironically, just behind the B team of Wirral! James Tilley also ran the 1st leg for an incomplete Morpeth C team in 12:12.
The day’s biggest field was in the Senior Men’s race, contested over six legs and a distance of just over 6kms and, as expected, the day’s stiffest opposition came from the usual suspects, Leeds City AC, Salford Harriers and AC, Blackburn Harriers and AC and Lincoln Wellington AC.
In his first team outing since his transfer from Tyne Bridge Harriers, Finn Brodie got Morpeth off to a flying start with a clocking of 17:44 for 4th place behind early leaders Keighley and AC and handed on to Ali Douglas.
Drafted in to the A team at less than 24 hours notice, and after completing a punishing run in the GNR the previous weekend, it was a tough battle for an understandably later disappointed Douglas, most of whose running over the Summer had been focussed on shorter distances on the track. Battling gutsily back along the Coast Road, his time of 19:30 saw the team slip out of the top ten.
George Lowry, however, set about the task of reeling in the athletes ahead of him purposefully on leg 3, and his clocking of 17:56 saw the club claw back no less than eleven places and move up to 6th, with Leeds City, Salford and Blackburn occupying the first three places.
In his first ever Northern Relays, University of Lancaster student Matty Briggs kept the pressure on with a fine run of 18:22 to move up a further place to 5th, with Salford now in the lead.
Phil Winkler’s run of 18:49 meant the team slipping back to 7th but on last leg Alex Brown had a real go, recording the team’s fastest time of the day (17:36) and getting the team to within 20 seconds of a medal in 5th place, the club’s final overall time being 1 hour 49 minutes and 39 seconds.
The club did also had the satisfaction of being first team home from the North East, ahead of rivals Tyne Bridge (11th), Gateshead (18th) and Sunderland (23rd).
Ahead of Brown, Leeds City proved to be dominant winners with an overall time of 1:46:55 – in fact, so dominant did they prove on the day that their B team was 7th and their C team 21st.
Salford Harriers finished in 2nd place, well over a minute behind, but an impressive final leg by 2012 Olympian and former Morpeth Harrier Nick McCormick for Blackburn Harriers saw the North West outfit pip Hallamshire Harriers Sheffield for the Bronze medal.
Fastest leg of the day was run by Richard Allen of Leeds City (17:24) with Brown’s 17:36 an impressive 5th fastest, and the 40 year old McCormick showing his class with the 7th fastest.
Morpeth’s B team also had a very respectable afternoon’s work, coming home 5th B team in 26th place in 2:00:19 but ahead of the A teams of many other clubs. John Butters ran 19:15 on leg 1; Liam Roarty 20:32 on leg 2; Tom Innes 19:57 on leg 3; 20-year-old Connor Marshall 19:31 on leg 4 to take the team inside the top thirty; Jordan Scott 20:52 on leg 5; and Mark Snowball 20:12 on the final leg.
The Senior Women’s race started some five minutes behind the Men’s but was run over the same course over four legs with nearly fifty teams competing.
This was Morpeth’s Women’s team’s first time at the event for several years and, with a couple of the team still on the way back from injury, the key objective was to get the team out to compete at this level.
Cat Macdonald came home in 14th place on leg 1 (21:30) with Leeds City’s Jennifer Walsh setting the 2nd fastest time of the day in 20:28 to take an early lead.
In her first event of this size Lizzie Rank ran 25:25 with the team now in 22nd, and Lindsey Quinn kept the team in the same position with 24:39, both runners probably a month away from full race fitness. Michelle Thompson managed to get the team into the top 20 with final leg of 24:03 for a total time of 1:35:37.
The event was won by Salford Harriers with a cumulative clocking of 1:24:52 with Rotherham Harriers in 2nd and Hallamshire 3rd. An experienced Jarrow and Hebburn AC team were first home for the NE in 7th place.
There was another remarkable victory for Ulgham-based triathlete Daniel Dixon on Saturday when he won the Junior and Senior Male Elite race at the British Triathlon ‘Big Weekend’ Championships at Mallory Park, Leicester.
Normally held at the end of the season, the event is often seen as a marker for the development of future triathlon elites and represents a further significant milestone for Dixon as he builds towards a hoped for appearance in a GB vest at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham next year.
Completing the 750 metres swim in 9 minutes 32 seconds, the 20.2 kilometres bike ride in 26m 23s and the 5k run in 15m 34s, Daniel was some thirty seconds ahead of his nearest rival by the end and had time to enjoy his victory in style.
The Great North Run weekend saw nine young members of Morpeth Harriers take part in the Junior 4k in Newcastle on Saturday.
Pride of place belongs to Under 17 Man Will De Vere Owen, who won the event outright and was first home in his age group, posting a best time of 12m26s.
Club colleague Ryan Davies just missed out on a podium place himself when he finished fourth in 12m41s. Not far behind him was Bertie Marr, who finished sixth in 12m49s, just five seconds ahead of another Morpeth Harrier Liam Roche in seventh place.
Further down the field in fifteenth place was Morpeth Under 15 Boy Ollie Calvert, who was fourth in his age group, posting a time of 14m07s.
Joseph Close of Morpeth Harriers finished in 29th place in 14m52s and was ninth Under 15 Boy.
Caitlin Flanagan finished as fifth Under 17 Woman in 69th place in a time of 16m01s.
Other Morpeth Harriers finishers in the event were Robert Duffy, who was 90th Under 13 Boy, finishing 429th in 20m33s, and Under 11 Girl Sophie Pledger, who was 29th in her age group, finished in 518th place overall, posting a finishing time of 21m21s.
Sunday’s delayed 40th anniversary of the Great North Run itself saw a much changed course this year, with staggered timeslots replacing the traditional mass start. Huge changes to the traditional route meant runners coming back over the Tyne Bridge to finish on the Great North Road after turning back on themselves at the end of the Felling bypass instead of continuing to the customary finish at South Shields.
The elite men’s race was won by Marc Scott of Richmond and Zetland AC in a time of 1 hour 1 minute and 22 seconds with Kenyan Helen Obiri taking the elite women’s race in 1:07:42.
First home for Morpeth Harriers was Alistair Douglas, 83rd overall in a time of 1:15:54, who also ensured worldwide television coverage of himself by setting to run the first mile with the elite athletes, completing it in 4 minutes 26 seconds.
In his first race of the year after an injury-enforced break Andrew Hebden ran 1:25:03 and Dan Melling was next home in 1:26:40.
Other Morpeth finishers included: Paul Bell, 652nd in 1:28:56; Adam Coulson, 654th in 1:28:57; Matty Boyle, 954th in 1:31:46; Eric Adams, 1:35:12; Tayla Murdy, 1:36:12; Jenny Belton, 1:38:32; Jane Hodgson, running with husband Andrew, 1:39:33; Neil Gunstone, 1:40:17; teenager Kate Gaffing in her first ever GNR, 1:41:42; Julie Vermaas, 1:42:29; Laura Mclean, 1:46:43; Gary Mason, 1:47:30; Arjan Piet, 1:53:32 and Clare Walker, just outside the two hour mark in 2:00:34.
There was a successful return for our own 2021 10k race at the weekend, which saw
runners once again tackling the traditional two lap course through Tranwell Woods
and Tranwell Village.
Sadly - if inevitably - cancelled like so many other sporting fixtures in 2020, this
year’s event had had to be moved to a Sunday morning in September from its
traditional slot on a midweek August evening as a result of delays in obtaining the
necessary permissions from Northumberland County Council.
With an understandable nervousness about returning to competition for many runners,
and an unfortunate clash with the Druridge Bay Fun Run, rescheduled from the Spring
for the same morning, numbers were clearly down on previous years - but on
reflection it was just good to get a race back on the road once more.
‘We knew the numbers taking part would be down from previous years and
understand the concerns that many still have about returning to competition,’ said
Harriers Chairman David Swinburne, ‘ but the priority for us was always about
getting an event on this year. We haven’t been able to put on the New Year’s Day
race for the last two years and lost the Summer 10k last year, so we felt it was
paramount that we were able to offer something both for our own members and also
members of the North East running community this time round.’
The club is grateful once again also for the support of the many individuals and
organisations who enabled the race to take place and have stood by it over the years:
Ken Beattie and Morpeth Town, who provided the race HQ and post race presentation
facilities; Pegasus RDA, who again offered the use of their toilet facilities; Coca
Cola, who provided the welcome post-race Smartwater; and long-term sponsors
Stanton Hall Gardens and Phil Walker Wealth Management. As well of course as the
many club members and friends who marshalled, sat on the entry desk or de-tagged
electronic chips from shoes at the end.
At the front of the race, a leading group composed of Conrad Franks from Gateshead
Harriers, Matthew Briggs and 2018 winner Tom Straughan quickly established itself
and drew away from the rest of the field. The conclusion of the first lap of the race
saw Straughan dropping off the pace, with 20 year old Briggs now trying to shake off
the attention of the experienced Gateshead Harrier.
In the end, a well-executed run by Briggs saw him get away from Franks as the route
climbed up the Whalton Road so by the end the winning margin was some twenty
seconds, Briggs finishing in an impressive time of 31 minutes 51 seconds in front of
his highly delighted coach, Jim Alder. Straughan was third in 32:54.
Lee Bennett had another excellent outing to come home as 1 st O/50 in 34:33, just
ahead of Mark Snowball, 9 th in 34:57. Guy Bracken continued the road back towards
his best form with 36:52 and the inevitable 1 st O/55.
Will Clark was 17 th in 38:20, Ed Hillier 19 th in 38:31, and Paul Banks 2 nd O/50 in
38:42. Other finishers in the men’s race were: Ricky Stafford, 28 th in 40:19, Adam
Coulson, 31 st in 40:39, Jamie Johnson, 33 rd in 41:01, Mike Winter, 50 th in 43:42, Eric
Adams, 51 st in 43:49, Richard Kirby, 64 th in 45:49, James McFetrich, 71 st in 47:34, and
Gary Mason, 77 th in 48:41.
There were a number of noteworthy runs by athletes in blue and white vests in the
women’s race, with an in form Cat Macdonald (who had set a new personal best for
the same distance in Scotland the previous week) shaking off the attentions of Jane
Hodgson, who has been first home on many occasions over the years, to win in a time
of 36:37 with Hodgson second in 37:37. Imogen Bungay of Elswick was third home
Lorna Macdonald was 7 th woman home in 43:38 and Anna Wright 9 th in 44:30. Jenny
Belton was not far behind, 13 th in 45:10. Steph Purvis placed 16 th in 48:13, Eleanor
Blackburn 21 st in 50:11, Laura Shaw 23 rd in 51:17 and Louise Burt 29 th in 55:08.
Among the many pleasing features of the race was seeing so many female runners in
black and white who are clearly reaping the rewards of their training with the club.
With three to count for the team prizes, it was no surprise to find that both Morpeth’s
men’s and women’s teams had picked up the honours, with Over 50 Lee Bennett
having another outstanding run to finish 7 th overall (34:33) in support of Briggs and
Straughan. Elvet Striders were 2 nd . The margin of victory in the women’s team race
was closer, Cat Macdonald’s older sister Lorna third counter in 43:38, with Morpeth
just squeezing out second team home, Elswick Harriers.
In all some 119 finishers completed the course, with runners representing clubs from
as far North as Gala and as far South as Luton.
The club would like to put on record a special word of thanks to indefatigable race
organiser Kevin Bray, whose encounters with the Kafkaesque bureaucracy required in
getting the event on must have tempted him to walk away on many occasions. We are
all grateful that he persisted. Next year, let’s hope it’s all a bit easier….