Morpeth Harriers occupied the first three finishing places at the 34th annual Woodlawn Pudding Run on a blustery Boxing Day morning down on the seafront at Whitley Bay.
The race, which has continued steadily to grow in popularity and this year attracted over 1500 entrants,
now has a 5 kilometre course along the newly restored promenade in front of the Spanish City,
and attracts a variety of competitors, some keen to run off the previous day’s excesses,
some laying down early New Year’s resolutions, and others enjoying the chance
to compete while back on home soil over the festive season.
Among the latter was Morpeth’s James Young, enjoying a break in the North East from his studies in America, and, as last year, he was once again first over the line. Posting a time of 16 minutes 5 seconds, he was a little short of the 15:48 he had set as a new course record last year. Local residents Ross Floyd (16:12)
and Andy Lawrence (16:37) were close behind him, and took the chance to be photographed
with newly returned constituency MP Sir Alan Campbell afterwards.
In the women’s race, Wallsend’s Danielle Hodgkinson set a new course record of 17:25,
breaking Charlotte Penfold’s time from last year by over half a minute.
Cat Macdonald was 3rd home in 19:16 and Rachelle Falloon 4th in 19: 24 for Morpeth.
No full results are available.
Some seven Morpeth Harriers travelled over the Pennines to take part in the Ribble Valley 10k just outside Clitheroe, Lancashire on Sunday 29th December 2019..
With the race incorporating the North of England 10k Championships and enjoying a growing reputation for fast times, there was a high quality elite field which included a number of internationals.
Won by Marc Scott of Cambridge and Coleridge in 28 minutes 32 seconds with Ben Dukstra of Leicester Corinthian 2nd (28:53) and England international Charlie Grice of Brighton Phoenix 3rd (28:54),
Carl Avery had another fine run just outside his best ever time to finish in 8th place overall
and also collected a North of England bronze medal with a clocking of 29:38.
Middlesbrough Mandale’s Josh Cowperthwaite was crowned North of England champion with a time of 29: 36 and was 6th overall in the race, with Leeds City’s Derek Hawkins just finishing ahead of Avery for the silver.
Next home for the club was Adam Pratt with a personal best of 31: 48 for 45th place, and a few seconds behind was 2012 Olympian Nick McCormick, now resident in the North West of the country. Nick clocked 32:02 for 53rd.
There were also personal bests for Ali Douglass, 66th in 32:28,
Richard Johnson, 67th in 32:32, and Tom Innes, 77th in 32:56.
The women’s race was won by Jess Judd, in excellent form and taking a break from the cross country
where she has already prominently figured this year, with a time of 32: 17.
Rachael Franklin of Manx Harriers was 2nd in 33: 24 and Holly Archer 3rd (33: 27).
Michelle Thompson recorded a pb of 39: 55 and finished as 2nd Over 35 woman.
Tayla Murdy was Morpeth’s only other female runner, clocking 46:36 for 43rd in her category.
Teenager Joe Dixon signed off the year in fine style with a big personal best
at the Blyth Links parkrun on Saturday 21st December 2019.
With a finishing time of 16 minutes 22 seconds, some 21 seconds better than he had run at Newcastle a few weeks ago, he was not only first finisher but left in his wake a number of good senior athletes, although several of these will have been using the outing as a way back to full fitness.
Club colleagues Andrew Lawrence (16m 38s) and Rachelle Falloon (18m 5s) were 2nd and 5th,
and North Shields Poly’s world leading Over 55 Guy Bracken 3rd (17m5s).
Joe’s regular under 15 team mates Ryan Davies and Liam Roche
were 4th and 6th in 17m 33s and 18m 15s respectively, Roche’s time also a pb.
Dixon’s age-graded percentage was 88% and his time places him as 14th in the country in 2019 for his age, showing the tremendous strides he has made forward this year in his running under the careful guidance of coach Mike Bateman.
In the same event, there were also pbs for Richard Kirby, 14th in 19m 26s and Lindsey Quinn, 21st in 20m 1s.
Gavin Bayne was first Morpeth Harrier home at the Ronnie Walker Saltwell 10k on Saturday 21st December 2019.
Now England’s oldest race, the event is run in honour of Saltwell Harriers’s late president
over a challenging and undulating three lap course in Saltwell Park, Gateshead.
This year’s race was won by Gateshead Harrier Calum Johnson, 2nd in last week’s NECAA cross country championships at Alnwick, in a time of 31 minutes 5 seconds, only some 8 seconds off the course record of 30m 57s set by Ryan Macleod in 2011. Cameron Allan of Houghton Harriers was some way behind, 2nd in 32m 15s,
with Conrad Franks 3rd in 32m 23s.
Olympian Alyson Dixon of Sunderland Strollers was 1st woman back home in a time of 36m 38s,
some way off the course record of Rosie Smith set in 2014 of 35m 14s.
Elswick’s Amy Fuller was 2nd in 38m 58s with veteran Judith Nutt 3rd in 39m 53s.
With no club seniors running, Morpeth were represented by four veterans.
Gavin Bayne was once again 1st Over 60 - although he moves up a vet’s category in the New Year - with a time of 41m 44s. Bayne has had a fine few months, picking up, among other honours, the North East Masters 5 mile, 10k and 10 mile titles in his age group, while he was also 1st in his category at Brampton.
His next target is the Helsby half-marathon in mid January,
where he will hope to gain selection for the England Athletics’ Masters Half Marathon Team.
Fellow O/60 Kevin Bray was next home, 172nd in 46m 56s and O/55 Paul Bellingham 212th in 49m 10s,
just ahead of Andrew Dippie in his first competitive outing in the blue and white of Morpeth (214th in 49m 25s).
Some 428 finished.
Winning his first North Eastern Counties Cross Country Championships title within sight of the scenic backdrop of Alnwick Castle, Morpeth Harrier Carl Avery led the club’s Senior Men to a comprehensive team victory on a blustery Saturday afternoon (14th December), their 8th win in a row since 2012.
A challenging, multi-terrain course over the Duke of Northumberland’s land at Alnwick Pastures - where the first ever European Cross Country Championships had been held in 1994 - saw Morpeth claim three out of a possible nine team victories and one further second place, while individually there were also four bronze medals to go alongside Avery’s gold.
The club’s first team gold came courtesy of their Under 15 boys, most of whom had run the previous weekend in the English Schools Cross Country Cup. Led home by Joe Dixon in 3rd place, there were supporting counts courtesy of Bertie Marr in 7th and Ryan Davies in 9th.There was also strong support from Liam Roche in 18th, Matt Walton in 19th and Will Devere Owen in 21st in an age group that is rapidly establishing itself as one of the strongest in the club.
The second gold was won by the Under 20 men with Joe’s older brother Daniel again picking up an individual bronze for the family. A high quality two lap race saw Sam Charlton, winner of the U/17 race at the English National Cross Country Championships at Harewood House in February, take an early lead with Dixon determinedly hanging on a few seconds back. However, Charlie McMillan of Gateshead Harriers came from some way back to overhaul both on the second lap, and he finished with a convincing 28 second margin over Charlton. With Dixon only a few seconds behind Charlton,
Morpeth’s next counter was pentathlete Ross Charlton in 4th, and when Dan Melling came in not far after in 7th,
the team title was secure. There were further supporting runs from Alex Cunningham in 13th
and Connor Marshall in 18th.
The Under 17 Mens team lost out to a strong Houghton Harriers team but still won a decent silver medal, with Tom Balsdon first home in 6th place, Rowan Bennett 7th, Dylan Gooding 9th and Ben Waterfield 20th.
There were also complete teams and more than respectable performances from the club’s Under 15 girls
and Under17/Under 20 Junior Women. Abi Leiper finished 5th in the U/15 girls with support coming from Zara Naughton, 22nd in her first ever championship race, and Sophia Cunningham, 33rd. The team finished 6th.
The U17/20 Women were unfortunate in that Robyn Bennett, who would probably have been their leading counter, had been laid low all week by the same virus that has afflicted so many in the North East this Winter, and though she deserves credit for even making the start line, she had to drop out after the first lap.
This left Holly Peck as the team’s first counter in 9th, with Rhiannon Hedley in 17th, Kirsty Duffin 26th
and Kate Gaffin 33rd. The team were unlucky then to narrowly lose out for a bronze to Blaydon Harriers,
and had to settle for 4th spot.
Kiera Peck was Morpeth’s sole representative in the U/13 girls, finishing in 56th place,
and Oliver Tomlinson the same in the U/13 boys, coming home in 11th.
First event of the day had been the Under 11 Boys non championship race, and the club got off to a good start,
with Rob Walton coming 2nd, Daniel Scott 10th, Sam Davies 13th, and Irwin Wilby 38th.
The three lap, Senior Men’s race was a homecoming of sorts for both Carl Avery and Phil Winkler, with both former Duchess High School pupils competing over ground they had run on with the school when younger men - as had, of course, their Duchess High colleague and two time Olympian Laura Weightman,
sadly unable to run on the day due to illness.
Avery established an early lead on the first lap and looked in imperious form. He was never thereafter seriously challenged, his nearest rival Callum Johnson of Gateshead finishing some 12 seconds back.
There was, however, another terrific run by young teammate Alex Brown, who picked up an individual bronze and showed the tremendous improvements he continues to make under the coaching of Lindsey Dunn.
Brown stuck to his task in a determined fashion and overhauled last year’s winner,
Greg Jayasuriya of Middlesbrough, in the last lap.
Adam Pratt was third counter in 12th place, with Phil Winkler in close order in 14th and Ali Douglass 17th,
all good runs. The team count was completed by Richard Johnson, another athlete who has made remarkable progress this year under the guidance of coach Chris Waugh, in 32nd.
Last year’s 6th counter Tom Innes just missed out on a medal this year, finishing 36th. Andy Hebden was 58th, Shaun Land made the top 100 when coming in 96th, and veteran Dave Nicholson was 160th.
The team finished with a resounding final margin of victory, and this despite some notable absences.
Some 271 finished the race.
In the Senior Women’s race, won convincingly by North East exile Sonia Samuels, now competing for Sale Harriers, Cat Macdonald had another fine run to pick up an individual bronze behind Phillippa Stone of Middlesbrough AC.
Jane Hodgson, still trying to run off an injury and heavily strapped, came home behind her in 4th and Michelle Thompson had a good run to finish in 36th. Some 175 finished.
Disappointingly however, the absence of a fourth team counter meant these three missed out on an excellent chance to pick up a team medal, with Jarrow and Hebburn winning gold ahead of Tyne Bridge
and Jesmond Joggers.