With five of their competing teams all finishing inside the first fifteen
in their respective events, it was a relatively good day at the office
for Morpeth Harriers at the annual English Cross Country Relay Championships,
held at Berry Hill Park in Mansfield, on Saturday 5th November 2016.
Best of those five results came from their Under 15 Boys, who finished tenth,
followed very closely by their Under 17 Men, who finished twelfth,
then their Senior Men, who after a tough battle finished thirteenth,
and their Junior Men, and Under 15 Girls both achieved fourteenth places respectively.
Very little recent rainfall rendered the various courses fairly firm and dry,
with only the odd muddy patches in the wooded sections of now well known
and much established North Nottinghamshire venue,
and autumn sunshine accompanied by a cool wind
proved most welcome to most competitors.
Morpeth had two Under 15 Boys teams in action in their 3 x2k event,
and their A team worked their way through from a first leg effort by Daniel Melling,
who was 31st on the opening leg, with a time of 6m53.45s.
Ross Charlton did well to take them up 19th with an equally excellent 6m54.55s on second leg,
leaving third leg runner Daniel Dixon to bring them home in a final tenth place,
with a clocking of 6m34.00s, which was just outside the ten fastest times of the day.
The squad were also second from the North and North East behind
Middlesbrough AC, who nine seconds and four places ahead of them.
They were also only around thirty seconds adrift of a medal winning spot.
The Morpeth B team were ninth B team, finishing in 56th place overall out of 78 complete teams,
courtesy of Thomas Cunningham (7m19.40s), Andrew Hudspith (7m37.75s), and Brad Brown (7m49.50s).
Morpeth Harriers had no less than three teams competing in the 3 x 3k Under 17 Men’s event.
Their A team performed superbly to finish in twelfth place out of 72 complete teams.
Rory Leonard had them very well in contention, when coming home in 18th place on the first leg,
posting a finishing time of 9m21.10s, which proved to be only a mere 21 seconds adrift of early leaders,
and fellow North Easterner’s Middlesbrough AC, courtesy of supremo Josh Cowperthwaite,
who eventually proved to be the fastest of the day.
Taylor Glover elevated the squad to twelfth on the second leg, posting a time of 9m46.05s,
a position that was carefully maintained by third and final leg runner Kieran Hedley, who clocked 9m33.70s.
The squad finished as fourth from the North of England, and first from the North East,
as early leaders Middlesbrough AC slipped to thirteenth place, seven seconds adrift.
Morpeth Harriers Under 17 Men’s B and C teams finished in 37th and 58th places respectively.
The B team performance came courtesy of newcomer Joe Ramshaw,
who is now fully clear to compete following his transfer from Gosforth Harriers,
and he can feel very proud of his debut effort, as he made an excellent start by finishing 50th in 9m53.65s,
which was firmly supported by colleagues Connor Marshall,
and Liam Marsh, who clocked 10m06.30s and 10m10.90s respectively.
Matthew Waterfield set things up nicely for the Morpeth C team with his first leg effort of 10m08.80s,
which was further improved upon by Joe Dowd (10m30.35s), and Alex Cunningham (11m00.10s).
The Morpeth B and C teams were seventh and third respectively.
Morpeth Harriers Senior Men unfortunately could not defend their title that they narrowly won twelve months ago.
Due to injury and general unavailability, only Jonny Taylor remained from that winning squad,
however along with Taylor, Carl Avery, Robert Balmbra, and Jordan Scott
made every effort to produce a respectable performance.
Despite excellent third and fourth leg performances by Robert Balmbra (16m45.50s),
and Jordan Scott (16m36.35s), the squad slipped to a final placing of thirteenth,
but were only eighty seconds adrift of a medal winning slot.
They were also fourth from the North of England, and first of eight North East clubs competing.
Morpeth Harriers Junior Men’s squad finished fourteenth in their 3 x 3k event,
courtesy of Joe Armstrong (9m04.20s), Phil Winkler (9m49.50s),
and Scott Beattie (8m50.45s), which proved to be just outside the top ten fastest times.
They were sixth from the North of England, and first of four North East clubs,
and only 48 seconds adrift of a medal slot.
Completing the Morpeth Harriers squads in the top 15 were their Under 15 Girls,
who ran very competitively to finish fourteenth overall.
Ellie Coxon had them very handily placed in 24th position on the first of their 2k legs, posting a time of 7m36.20s.
On second leg Holly Peck climbed an excellent fourteen places, posting a time of 7m30.15s.
Lily Heaton responded well on the pressure cooker like final leg,
and despite losing a mere four places, her time of 7m58.95s was most respectable.
The squad were fourth from the North of England, and the first of three North East clubs.
In the Junior Women’s 3 x 2.5k event, which was the first to face the Starter of the ten-race programme,
Morpeth Harriers finished 29th, courtesy of Alison Brown (10m07.75s),
Abby Sheldon (10m24.70s), and Charlotte Jewell (11m20.50s).
Morpeth Harriers Under 13 Girls finished 62nd in their 3 x 2k event,
courtesy of Mia Belton (8m44.00s), Rhiannon Hedley (8m09.10s), and Laura Melling (9m43.80s).
For Belton and Melling, the occasion must have proved quite daunting,
as in both cases it was their first ever taste of National competition,
and under the circumstances they coped very well, and impressed their Team Manager Mike Bateman.
Bateman was equally praiseworthy of the Morpeth Under 13 Boys squad,
who very courageously battled through to the finish of their 3 x 2k event,
despite being the victims of an overzealous official, who denied second leg runner
Alex Porteous access to begin his second leg run, after first leg runner Ben Walker
had come home in an excellent 21st place, posting a time of 7m13.05s.
Meanwhile as Porteous, knowing that Walker had finished, protested,
and around three minutes and sixty plus places had been lost before the mistake was realised,
and eventually the Morpeth youngster was given sanction to begin his run.
Clearly upset by this, Porteous battled through to hand over to final leg runner Dylan Davies,
who individually clawed back fifteen places with his clocking of 7m38.10s.
Despite further protests afterwards by the Morpeth Harriers Team Management,
the Event Referee decreed that the result could not be altered.
It is thought that in reality Porteous actually ran around 8m00s in terms of time,
which effectively would have seen the squad in 20th place overall,
and seventh from the North of England, and also first from the North-East region.
Morpeth Harriers Olympian Laura Weightman posted the fifth fastest time of the day of 9m36.00s,
when she came home in fifth place on the first leg of the Senior Women’s 3 x 3k event.
Unfortunately, because of other commitments Morpeth could only manage to field two runners on the day,
and second leg runner Josie Cram finished eleventh when she clocked 11m00.85s.
Team Manager Bateman was also very praiseworthy of parent’s willingness to assist
by ferrying youngsters to the event, and for the general on the day support throughout
the course of proceedings, which certainly contributed to an excellent all round performance.