Morpeth Harriers Senior Men returned to the scene of their winning success in the National 12 Stage Road Relay in April on Saturday 3rd October, with only one of their squad from six months ago remaining, to do battle in the annual 6 Stage event.
Only Chris Smith remained from the aforementioned squad, and he was the fastest in a much weakened team than the club would have wished to put out, due mainly to other events, holidays and injuries, and all of those who stood in for absentees, some at last minute, did their best throughout to finish in a well accomplished 38th place, later promoted to 37th at the expense of Reading AC, who having finished 22nd, found themselves disqualified in the judges room, due to an on course error by their final leg runner.
The event began tentatively for Morpeth, when first leg runner Thomas Straughan unfortunately picked up a thigh strain during proceedings, and struggled home in 47th place, posting a finishing time for the 5.85k course of 18m47s.
Leg two saw Chris Smith make significant improvement, clawing back eleven places, as he got round the course in 18m32s.
Another six places were won by third leg runner Sam Hancox, whose personal clocking of 18m44s brought the Morpeth squad to the half way point, around three minutes adrift of the medals.
More improvement in terms of places was achieved on Karl Taylor’s fourth leg, as he took his club up to 27th place, clocking 18m47s.
Leg Five saw Elliot Kelly enter the fray, who with his clocking of 20m00s, resolutely did not surrender a place, as he handed over to his clubs final leg runner Paul Waterston.
Waterston, managed to get round the circuit in a time of 21m06s, finishing 38th, and in a total finishing time of 1hr55m56s, later to be promoted to 37th because of Reading’s disqualification.
Finishing four places ahead of Morpeth were North East rivals Tyne Bridge Harriers, who clocked 1hr55m06s.
For once the best North East performers on the day were Gateshead Harriers, who having started very brightly courtesy of Lewis Moses finishing 13th in 17m49s, settled back to finish 23rd in 1hr52m48s, later to be elevated to 22nd courtesy of the Reading disqualification.
The only other North East club on view were Jarrow & Hebburn, who unfortunately had only travelled to Sutton Park with four athletes.
Event winners were Tonbridge, who clocked a total time of 1hr47m24s, and were totally the surprise package of the day, as their B team finished tenth.
Morpeth Harriers Senior Men emerged as eleventh from the North of England on the day, and the only connection to be made with winners Tonbridge, is that both clubs were founded in the same year, 1947.
Although Morpeth Harriers had entered a Senior Women’s squad for their 4 Stage Relay, they did not travel to contest the event.