The latest event in the 2021 NECAA Grand Prix series produced an excellent night of North East athletics action at Monkton Stadium on 30 June.
Despite the challenges of running events due to Covid, the region has successfully managed to host all of this season's tabled events to date.
And the quality of the action was a fitting tribute to the sport's regional President Bill McGuirk, who celebrated his 80th birthday by officiating on the action.
In the final 3,000 metres race of the evening, Morpeth Harrier Alex Brown proved he is very much a man in form, as he took a handsome victory, after leading almost from the gun. It was a lead that was only surrendered momentarily at the bell to Tyne Bridge Harrier Carl Smith, before Brown eventually regained the lead with 200 metres of the seven-and-a-half lap event remaining. He won in a new personal best time of 8m21.11s, just over one second over Smith, and taking 3.5 seconds off his previous figures.
It was an exciting race at the front end, with seven athletes, led by Brown, figuring very prominently throughout the first half, also amongst them Morpeth Harrier Daniel Dixon, recently returned from Austria, and his European Triathlon silver medal triumph.
Dixon, always remained prominent, battling alongside Tyne Bridge pair Finn Brodie and Kieran Reay, and Leeds City’s Nick Hooker, and eventually only Brodie overtook him, to finish third. Dixon dug in to finish fourth, ahead of Reay, whilst such was the lightning pace, Hooker pulled out with one lap remaining.
Under 20 athlete Daniel, will undoubtedly be delighted that he also posted a new personal best time for the distance of 8m28.58s, taking a whole 35 seconds off his previous figures, recorded at the same venue in 2018, when he was still an Under 17 athlete.
Other Morpeth Harriers further down the field in the fastest 3000m were Thomas Straughan, and Under 17 athlete Ryan Davies, who finished eleventh and thirteenth, posting respective times of 9m00.29s, and 9m09.84s. For Davies, it represented new figures by one second.
Competing in the second fastest 3000m was Joe Dixon, younger brother of Daniel.
Under 17 athlete Joe, also produced a new personal best time of 9m21.84s, as he finished third, taking two seconds off the figures he had achieved two weeks previously in the Northumberland/Durham Schools Trials Meeting at Gateshead.
In the opening 3000m, Morpeth Harrier Kate Gaffing, in her first outing over the distance, finished eighth, posting a time of 11m34.39s.
Gaffing ran very confidently early on, only fading a little over the final couple of laps.
In addition to the longer 3000m events, there was also a splendid set of 800m events.
The second fastest of these had four Morpeth Harriers facing the starter.
As the nine strong field went through the break-line after 100m, it was clearly Morpeth’s Joe Anderson out in front, a lead he held onto until 150m remaining, when he was passed by Gosforth’s Reece Slater.
Anderson bravely still gave chase and was only a mere second adrift of Slater at the finish line, finishing second in a new personal best of 2m04.61s, taking around one second off his previous figures.
Just under two seconds adrift of Anderson in fourth place, was his Morpeth club colleague Bertie Marr, who also posted new figures of 2m06.02s, taking about four seconds off his previous figures.
Only a fraction behind Bertie in fifth place was Morpeth’s Liam Roche, who equalled his best figures with 2m06.31s.
Finishing in sixth place was Under 15 Morpeth Harrier Joseph Close, who bettered his previous figures by three seconds, with his excellent clocking of 2m09.44s.
Morpeth Under 17 Woman Caitlin Flanagan was also an excellent performer on the night, finishing fourth in one of the earlier events, taking a second off her previous figures, with her clocking of 2m27.46s.
Behind Caitlin in eighth place was her Morpeth senior colleague Lizzie Rank, who improved on her previous figures by eight seconds with her clocking of 2m32.68s.
Lizzie’s previous 800m run, had been in 2013, when she was an Under 15 athlete, in that years North Eastern Championships at Gateshead.
In the opening 800m of the evening, Morpeth Under 13 athlete Molly Roche, younger sister of Liam, finished in sixth place, producing a new personal best time of 2m53.04s, taking two seconds off her previous figures.
Fellow Under 13 Girl and Morpeth club colleague Emma Tomlinson, finished seventh in the following race, posting a time of 2m50.72s.
Disappointingly there were no Morpeth Harrier athletes flexing their muscles in sprint events, or in field events, something the coaching fraternity at the club need to address.