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….