The fourth in the North East Counties Athletics Association’s series of Open Meetings, held under UK Athletics Covid 19 competition guidance, took place at the Morpeth Harriers track at KEVI on Sunday with the highlights being the awards of the Jimmy Hedley Trophy over 800 metres and the Stan Long Trophy for the mile.
Both legendary North-East middle-distance coaches, since their deaths the races named in their honour have regularly seen some of the best local talent turning out to compete, with Sunday being no exception. In the event honours were evenly shared between Morpeth Harriers and longstanding rivals from South of the Tyne Gateshead, with Morpeth taking the Jimmy Hedley Trophy and Gateshead the Stan Long. lick here to edit.
The earlier 800m saw Alistair Douglas taking revenge over local rival Oliver Telfer of Alnwick Harriers who had pipped him three weeks ago over the same distance. It was a gun to tape race lead for Douglas who this time proved to have a bit too much in the tank for Telfer when challenged in the home straight, winning in a time of 1 minute 57.13 seconds in front of coach Jimmy Alder, with Zak Old of North Shields in third.
In the later run mile race – a distance sadly not raced over so much these days, with the preference going to the 1500m or ‘metric mile’ – David Race of Gateshead proved to be comfortably the strongest in the field, and having like Douglas led from the off finished in a time of 4 minutes 18.01 seconds with Gala Harrier Darrell Hastie some three seconds behind in second place and Adam Russell of Darlington AC in third. It has certainly been a productive Summer on the KEVI track for promising Under 20-year-old Race, who has now won 800m, 1500m and mile races here. (Sadly, Morpeth’s Joe Armstrong and Rory Leonard, who had both entered the event, were unable to take part due to coronavirus isolation.)
There were also many noteworthy performances by athletes from Morpeth in the earlier heats over both distances, as well as in accompanying 200m races and Field events.
U/15 Tabitha Robson won her 800m heat with a big personal best of 2:42:65, as did U/20 Connor Marshall his with a time of 2:06:20. There were pbs for Freya Caygill, Joe Close, Liam Roche and Sam Tate, while Emma Tomlinson and Elliot Mavir competed over the distance for the first time.
Senior Woman Lindsey Quinn had a busy afternoon, running a pb in the 800m then only a couple of hours later running away from the rest of her field in the mile to win her heat in a time of 5:37:43, her first ever run over the distance.
The following mile saw an exciting race won by U/17 Caitlin Flanagan – another tackling the event for the first time - who was led round at an even pace for over three and a half of the four laps by O/65 veteran Gavin Bayne, and then found the speed in her legs to overtake long time race leader Gateshead’s Kim Simpson and win in 5:46:57. Bayne clocked a highly respectable 5:51:50 while fellow Morpeth O/65 veteran Dave Nicholson went a few seconds better (5:43:82) in his heat.
U/13 Daniel Scott, Under 17s Will De Vere Owen, Bertie Marr and Joe Dixon and O/40 veteran Claire Calverley were also all running the distance for the first time, with Marr’s the standout performance in the penultimate race as he chased home Ethan Bond of Gosforth Harriers for second place in 4:39:64.
Meanwhile O/55 Neil McAnany ran an impressive 5:26:13 only an hour or so after taking part in a keenly contested 200m.
Oliver Geoghegan (U/17) and sister Alice (U/17), Harrison Scott (U/15) and Sam Parker (U/17) all won their 200m heats in pbs, with Parker competing over the distance for the first time. Parker and Geoghegan were the two fastest male U/17s of the day, in fact, with Alice and Melody Brooks the two fastest female U/17s. Alice’s run was a grade 4 performance under the AAA Standards Scheme. Freya Caygill placed 2nd in her heat but also ran a pb, with Rosie Winter 3rd. Melody Brooks was 3rd in her race, with Owen Omoigui 5th but still managing a pb. As mentioned above, Neil McAnany managed to narrowly squeeze ahead of younger club colleagues Hannah Lott and Olivia Gent in his heat.
Perhaps the stand out performance in the field was by Under 15 Hammer thrower Georgia Turner, who recorded a big personal best of 33.29 metres, as well as taking part in the Shot where she threw 8.31m. Longest throw of the day in the Hammer was by the club’s Athlete of the Year for 2019 Jess Gardiner with 39.69m. U/15 Kaitlyn Waddell managed 31.54m behind her.
Both Gardiner and Waddell are now in the top 20 in the UK for the event. A busy day for Gardiner saw her also record 32.40m in the Discus, with younger brother Ed not far behind in 29.03m with the best male performance of the day.
Some three Harriers jumped in the Long Jump event, with all three recording longest jumps of the day in their age categories. Olivia Gent recorded 3.76m and Hannah Lott 3.50, with Owen Omoigui the longest of the day for the club with 4.22m.