The annual Durham Cathedral Relays, on Sunday 15th January 2017,
were subject to a last minute course change, due to the usual circuit being
rendered unusable on grounds of safety, because of conditions
left by the snowfall that hit the region on Friday.
The event was switched from the old Racecourse venue to the nearby
Durham University Playing Fields at Maiden Castle, as Durham City Harriers
were forced to make stringent efforts in finding a suitable course as,
albeit not quite as testing, as a last minute, last ditch effort.
Thankfully the threatened constant rain that had been promised, had abated
by the time proceedings got underway on Sunday Morning,
and runners faced conditions, that although were relatively soft underfoot in parts,
were not quite as heavy as expected, and times for the two lap 3k circuits were therefore relatively fast.
Morpeth Harriers Senior Men, who were defending the title that they had won
for the last four consecutive years, unfortunately on this occasion had to bow
to the supremacy of a rampant Durham University select,
who won over the three legs by a margin of fourteen seconds.
Running an equal fastest time of 9m06s, Morpeth’s Nick Swinburn gave a tremendous final leg chase,
but couldn’t quite catch Durham University’s Ross Tennant, despite very much eating into their earlier margin.
Perhaps ironically, Swinburn shared the fastest time mantle with the University’s
first leg runner Cameron Field, who very much set them up on their way to their victory.
Throughout the duration of the three leg Senior Men’s event, all three of Morpeth Harriers
finishing Senior Men’s squads had at some stage got into second place.
First leg saw their C team into second place, courtesy of Lewis Timmins (9m28s),
second leg saw the Morpeth B team in second place courtesy of Thomas Straughan’s (9m30),
before Swinburn took the mantle on the final leg.
On first Leg the Morpeth A team were in 7th place courtesy of Sam Hancox (9m39s),
from which Robert Balmbra got them up to third place on Leg Two, with an excellent 9m32s.
The Morpeth Senior Men’s B team were in fourth place on the first leg, courtesy of Joe Armstrong (9m35s).
Following Straughan’s second leg effort, Ian Harding gave them a final leg placing of third with 9m41s.
Jordan Scott had the Morpeth C team in fourth place on the second leg with his clocking of 9m47s,
however Ross Floyd slipped to fifth on the final leg, desperately trying to fight off
the close attentions of Gateshead’s Chris Parr. Floyd clocked 9m41s.
Mark Snowball and Alistair Douglass both clocked identical times of 10m21s
in an incomplete Morpeth Harriers D team, who were placed around fifteenth when finishing.
It was a winning day at the office however for Morpeth Harriers Senior Women, who won
from Gateshead Harriers, with early leaders Jarrow and Hebburn eventually finishing third.
Josie Cram had the Morpeth team in second place on the first leg, clocking the second fastest
time of the day overall of 10m46s, behind Gosforth’s Helen Warburton (10m42s).
Helen King slipped to third on the second leg, posting a time of 12m42s,
however Gemma Floyd’s 11m56s on the final leg was enough to seal a Morpeth victory.
In the Veteran Women’s Relay, Morpeth A finished in sixteenth place,
courtesy of Lindsay Turnbull (13m25s), Carol Parry (14m46s), and Jane Kirby (14m16s)
Morpeth Veteran Women’s B team finished further down the field, (position still to be confirmed),
courtesy of Sue Smith (14m18s), Frances Naylor (16m02s), and Jacinta Wake (14m37s).
In the Veteran Men’s event, also run over three legs, Morpeth’s Over 35 Men finished in fourth team place,
courtesy of Tony Lewis (10m29s), Tim Miley (10m54s), and Paul Waterston (11m25s).
Miley and Waterston were both competing below their age group.
In the Veteran Men’s Over 55 section, Morpeth Harriers won, courtesy of Paul Bellingham (11m48s),
David Nicholson (11m40s), and Gavin Bayne (11m54s).
Nicholson and Bayne were first and second fastest Over 60 athletes.
Peter Scaife, who was acting as the ever-willing Morpeth Veteran Men’s Team Manager,
stepped up at the very last minute, despite a problem, to help a Morpeth Men’s Over 55 B team to fifth team place,
courtesy of Jim Alder (12m06s), Chris Waugh (13m57s), and Scaife himself with a final leg clocking of 12m49s.