There were two Morpeth Harriers in action at Berlin in the weekend in the celebrated Berlin Marathon.
Andrew Lawrence had his best marathon for a while with an excellent clocking of 2 hours 35 minutes and 2 seconds for 129th place while Ady Whitwam, now an Over 45, was 695th in 2:53:35.
The race itself was won by Ethiopia’s Guye Adola in 2:05:45 with compatriot Gotytom Gebreslase taking the women’s race in 2:20:09.
After over a year and a half out, North East cross country action resumed at the Harrier League fixture at Wrekenton on Saturday afternoon with well over 1300 runners taking part across the age ranges.
It certainly didn’t feel like cross country weather however, with temperatures in the high teens and the uneven ground hard under-foot hard and unyielding to those participants who still chose to wear spikes.
The traditional curtain-raiser for the day was again the keenly contested Under 11s race over a mile, where places are given on the day but not league placings for the season. There was plenty of enthusiasm on display, with over fifty in both the boys and the girls races representing twenty four of the region’s clubs.
Morpeth’s sole representative was Euan Line who, in his first Harrier League outing, was sadly misdirected when well placed and so ended up well down the field when he had been in a position to place much higher. Nicholas Surtees-Brown of Elswick recorded an impressive 6 minutes 15 seconds for the boys and Nell Graham of Birtley an even more impressive 6m 13s for the girls.
While it was disappointing post lockdown to see no Under 13 Boys in action for the club, the Under 13 girls built on their decent team performance at the Northern Road Relays last week to place third team here behind North Shields Polytechnic Harriers and Durham City.
Run over two miles as a scratch race rather than a handicap, first home for Morpeth was Emma Tomlinson, 8th in 11:04 behind race winner Katy Otterson of NSP in 9:52. Molly Roche was 12th in 11:21 and Charlotte Marshall completed the scoring count, 14th in 11:38. Iris Dungait was 25th in 13:15 and Megan Potrac 30th in 13:29 in a pleasing club turn out.
There were impressive individual and team performances in the following U/15 and U/17 boys races, although it was disappointing however to see no U/15 girls running.
Improving on team medals at Redcar last week, both age groups saw Morpeth take team wins and there were a number of individual medals won also.
A keenly contested U/15 race saw NSP’s Ben Broats win in a time of 8:43 over the two mile distance with Morpeth’s Joe Close 2nd some nine seconds behind and colleague Olly Calvert 3rd only one second behind. Emma’s brother Olly finished the scoring count, 5th in 9:01. Elliot Mavir was 10th in 9:46 and Stephen Craske 21st in 10:27. The three to count team took a narrow victory over NSP by two points.
It was a more emphatic victory in the U/17 boys race where Bertie Marr raced to victory over the two lap circuit in 17:16 with team mates Ryan Davies, now looking good again after some late Summer injury worries, 2nd in 17:24, Matt Walton 4th in 17:36, Liam Roche 5th in 18:02 and James Tilley 7th in 18:23. The margin of team victory to the next placed club, Durham City, was a resounding 29 points.
The combined U/17 girls and U/20 women’s race was won by Holly Waugh of NSP in 19:25 with Millie Breese not far behind for the club in 20:06. Kate Gaffing was 10th in 23:01 but, with Abi Leiper sadly having to drop out, the club unfortunately failed to close a scoring team.
There were over 400 women and 500 men in the day’s final two races, the women completing two full laps of the hilly circuit and the men three.
Cat Macdonald produced the fastest women’s time of the day, an impressive 28:49, when coming home in 16th from Fast Pack with a five minute handicap, and Jane Hodgson, no stranger to the course, ran the day’s 2nd fastest time of 29:11 in 21st.
The team count of four was made up by Gwenda Cavill, 76th in 31:26 and Robyn Bennett, in her first competitive outing for over two years, 116th in 32:45.
With so many runners at the front out of slow or medium packs, Morpeth’s team place was only 7th, but that situation will surely improve as faster runners are promoted. It was also good to see eleven Senior women turning out for the club with surely more to come at Druridge Bay in a fortnight.
Morpeth’s other finishers were: Lindsey Quinn, 143rd out of Fast in 33:35; Claire Calverley, 159th from Medium in 33:53; Laura Shaw, 177th from Slow in 34:32; Laura Mclean 190th from Slow in 35:06; Sarah Routledge, 199th from Slow in 35:27; Sue Smith, 226th from Slow in 36:23 and Jill Bennett, 231st from Slow in 36:30.
Over 75 veteran Paul Bentley also exercised his right to run with the women, finishing in 282nd place in 38:51.
The race was won by Blaydon’s Emily Baines in 25:14 from Slow Pack with Jess Fox of Sunderland Harriers 2nd and Elswick’s Katarina Bonner 3rd. The team race was won by Elswick with NSP 2nd and Gateshead 3rd.
Having lost the Senior Men’s title they had won for two consecutive years to Sunderland Harriers in the much disrupted and then truncated 2019/2020 season, it was important for the club’s men to get off to a good start here, and this they did with both individual and team wins for Morpeth in the final event of the day with some 17 Senior Men turning out.
Although early leader Joe Anderson dropped out after the first lap, having perhaps ‘overcooked’ it in the heat, Liam Roarty replaced him at the front, also running from Slow Pack, and was never seriously thereafter troubled, winning in a time of 32:57 with Houghton AC’s Chris Coulson 2nd in 33:40 and South Shields Harrier Mark Hodgson 3rd, both also from Slow.
Second for Morpeth was Ali Douglas (‘I’m only running because I got up too late to do a parkrun!’ - and thank goodness he did), coming 12th from Medium in 35:53, and Over 50 veteran Lee Bennett ensured his promotion once again from Slow Pack with 20th in 36:57 as third counter.
In his first ever run in a blue and white vest, George Rudman, newly transferred to the club, ran one of the day’s fastest times, 28th in 37:34 with a five minute Fast Pack handicap and was 4th counter.
Finishing 5th and 6th for the club were Anthony Jannetta, also running in his first ever NEHL fixture, 30th in 37:39, and Jordan Scott, 58th from Fast in 38:59.
The team’s final scoring count was only 65 points, well ahead of rivals Sunderland with 108 and Tyne Bridge with 119. The day’s fastest time was by Michael Hedley of Tyne Bridge with 31:57.
Alistair Macdonald did well to finish in the top 100, 85th in 39:33, and there was a return to cross country action for the first time in over a decade for Mark Davies, 130th in 40:45 (‘I should be at home with a barbecue!’ was all the words he could manage later).
Other Morpeth finishers, all from Slow Pack, were: Eric Adams, 168th in 41:41; Mike Winter, 208th in 42:36; Dave Nicholson, 250th in 44:01; Paul Brown, 259th in 44:14; Steve Johnstone, 264th in 44:20; Neil McAnany, 265th in 44:22; Paul Bellingham, 351st in 47:06; and, managing comfortably to escape the ‘lanterne rouge’, Peter Scaife, 394th in 48:51 and Andrew Dippie, 461st in 53:10. Some 511 finished.
The next fixture is on Sunday 10 October, at Druridge Bay, very much home turf for the club. For a full list of fixtures for the season see the Harrier League website.
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.
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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.