With the cancellation of the second consecutive fixture of Saturday’s North East Harrier League due to the previous week’s heavy rain, the main focus for many Morpeth Harriers was the Abbey Dash at Leeds on Sunday 27th October 2019.
With a reputation for some very fast times over the out and back course from the Headrow in Leeds City Centre to Kirkstall Abbey, returning to finish outside the iconic Town Hall, the 10 kilometre race run in support of Age UK once again attracted well over 6,000 runners and also included this year an inter-area competition and national honours, with teams from all four home nations.
With minor changes to the course giving the best possible opportunity for fast times, allied to high class fields in both men’s and women’s races, a largely dry if breezy morning saw both men’s and women’s course records broken.
At the front of the race, a hard fought battle between Omar Ahmed and Ross Millington went down to a sprint finish, with Ahmed winning in a new course record of 28 minutes 38 seconds by one second, with last year’s winner Adam Craig in third. In all, some nine runners ran sub 29 minutes and twenty nine sub 30. Ahmed’s time also meant that at long last the old course record of Mike Openshaw had been broken.
In the women’s race, Cardiff’s Charlotte Arter ran a remarkable 31:34, the 4th fastest ever legal 10k run by a British athlete, with Abbie Donnelly 2nd in 32:00 and Beth Potter 3rd (32:05). Arter’s time broke the previous course record of Eilish McColgan set in 2016.
Not far behind, however, was Morpeth’s Carl Avery, proudly wearing an England vest,
and setting a new personal best of 28:58 in 9th place overall.
Avery’s achievement was matched by no less than nine other Morpeth Harriers who all set new personal bests.
Next home was young Sam Hancox, breaking his previous best by nearly one minute and running sub 31 for the distance for the very first time with a time of 30:16 for 35th place.
Avery’s stable mate George Lowry, coached likewise by Lindsey Dunn, was 50th in 30:40, another pb.
Behind him, Leeds based Phil Winkler was 121st (32:11 and a pb)
and in his first ever 10k, teenager Rowan Bennett 137th in 32:34.
Other Morpeth finishers included: Richard Johnson, 146th (32:40, a big new pb);
Ali Douglas, 161st, (32:56, pb); Karl Taylor, 162nd (32:57); Jordan Scott, 191st (33:32);
Jake Masterman, 200th (33:39, pb); Adam Pratt, 209th (33:46); Lee Bennett, 281st and 2nd Over 50 (35:02);
Rob Hancox, 456th and 7th O/50 (37.34); Robyn Bennett, 472nd (38:13);
Michelle Thompson, 630th and 9th Over 35 (39:36, pb); Tayla Murdy, 884th (43:20, pb);
Paul Bellingham, 946th (43:47); Kevin Bray, 973rd (43:14); and Steph Robertson, 5096th (1:08:00).
There were some other North East performances worthy of note, with young Josh Cowperthwaite clocking 29:35 in 19th place and Danielle Hodgkinson, running for the Armed Forces, 1st O/35 in 32:55. Guy Bracken was 124th in 32:19, but for once not 1st O/55, that honour going to Andrew Leach in 32:04.