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….
Yes, it’s back! After a whole year with no cross country action to speak of, the North East Harrier League returns this month, with the first fixture in less than three weeks time on Saturday September 25 at the traditional opening venue at Wrekenton.
If you have run before, feel free to ignore this paragraph…if you haven’t then in brief, the course is normally around 6 miles - 10k for senior men (3 laps) and 4 mile - 7.5k for senior women (2 laps), and shorter courses for Young Athletes. There is a unique Fast/Medium/Slow pack system operating, with time gaps between the starts of different packs, but if you haven’t run before don’t worry, you’ll be out of slow. (If you ran fast, you will be promoted.)
The club will have a tent for shelter and baggage, and toilet facilities are provided at all races. (There’s usually also some catering). All the Senior races start from midday onwards, with Young Athletes first and Senior Women before Senior Men.
The secret of doing well is, of course, in the numbers we get out in all the races, both Young Athletes and Seniors, male and female: it’s not just about the first six counters (Senior races) or the first three in the YA. And club coaches will tell you that you are likely to get more benefit from warming up round the course, doing the race, then a warm-down than you would get from a long Sunday run - so please, even if you
haven’t done one before and are deterred by the memories of wet and windy Wednesday cross country at school, do give it a go.
Among the many enjoyable aspects of the NEHL is the sight of the quasi-medieval tent village and the chance to see so many other clubs represented. There’s also great camaraderie and some interesting venues. As a member of Morpeth Harriers, it’s fantastic to see how so many of our talented youngsters get on.
So please – sign up and give it a go. You can either:
One final reminder, however: you should have paid your membership fees for 2021 by now, so please, if you haven’t, can you make the necessary arrangements to do so - or we’re afraid you will not be registered to run.