by Peter Scaife
The first Track and Field meeting to be held at KEVI this year took place under balmy spring skies on Sunday. Organised by North East Counties Athletics Association in accordance with UKA Covid guidance, athletes were given the chance to compete in 200, 800 and 3000 metre events, with field opportunities in the Hammer, Long Jump, Discus and Shot Putt this time.
First up for Morpeth in the 200m was O/60 Paul Bellingham, clocking 30.90s in his heat, and followed by O/50 Jason Dawson who won his with a time of 27.96 seconds, Neil McAnany recording 29.82 in the same heat. U/17 Ellie Wickens was 2nd in hers with 29.18s. 400m hurdler specialist Nisha Desai posted 27.20s in heat 10, with Josh Adams running the club’s fastest time of the day, 24.75s, in heat 11. Fastest run of the day overall was by Gateshead’s Matthew Williamson when winning heat 12 in 23.44s.
There were some good performances in the following 800m track races, Josh’s father Eric winning his heat in 2 minutes 26:01 seconds and Under 15 Oliver Tomlinson racing well to take heat 9 in 2:21:08, his younger sister Emma having run 2:50:99 in heat 2. Lindsey Quinn was 3rd in heat 7 in 2:34:14 with U/15 Kate Kennedy behind her in 2:39:72. U/15 Joe Close ran 2:13:12 in heat 12, with the club’s fastest time of the day by Liam Roche when finishing 4th in the next heat in 2:06:98. Jason Dawson doubled up in heat 9 to record 2:24:97.
Gateshead’s impressive Under 20 David Race picked up where he left off last year by recording the day’s fastest time of 1:52:36. Both Tomlinsons, Close and Roche were all among athletes who recorded personal bests.
There were only four heats of the day’s last track race the 3000m, with U/17 Ryan Davies setting a new personal best but just losing out to Blaydon’s Will Collinson having led for much of the way in heat 3 (9:21:04). Loughborough student and U/20 Dan Melling ran Morpeth’s fastest time of the day of 8:52:74 in heat 4, won by Loughborough colleague Blyth Harrier Josh Fiddaman with a tremendous kick over the last 200m in 8:45:06. Behind Melling U/17s Bertie Marr (9:14:31) and Will de Vere Owen (9:17:17) placed 6th and 7th. Melling, Marr and de Vere Owen also all ran pbs. O/60 and O/65 vets Andrew Dippie and Dave Nicholson clocked 12:35:17 and 11:17:39 respectively in earlier heats.
In the field, Morpeth’s furthest long jump of the day was by Abbie Ross with 4 metres 87 centimetres, some 35 cms behind winner Amy Stewart of South Shields. Gateshead’s Joseph Grey jumped 5:88m for longest overall.
Brother and sister team of Jess and Ed Gardiner had a busy afternoon, competing in both Discus and Hammer. Jess threw 32 metres 10 cms in the Discus with younger brother Ed 29:32. Longest throw of the day was by NSP’s James Wordsworth with 46m.
In her first competitive outing of the year in main specialism of the Hammer, Jess was a little down on her best with a throw of 37:87m, but with little technical training possible over the last few months, improvements will come as training resumes in earnest. Gateshead’s Lexie Ellis was just ahead with 38:56m and Border Harrier Damon King threw 45:89m. Ed Gardiner threw 28:58 in his first competition with the heavier hammer.
As at the previous weekend’s Cross Country Relays at Thornley, however, while many athletes professed themselves understandably a little rusty and out of sorts, all participants, the handful of permitted spectators, the coaches and officials were again delighted to see some degree of normality resuming to the sport. However, the number of Morpeth Harriers taking part, particularly in comparison with local rivals such as Gateshead and NSP was disappointingly low, Track and Field competition having perhaps come a bit too early for many.