Two superb individual wins and two team wins, plus two second team places, and a sprinkling of minor individual medals summed up a very satisfactory day at the office for Morpeth Harriers athletes at the
112th annual North-Eastern Counties Association Cross Country Championships,
held at Redcar Racecourse on Saturday 9th December 2017.
Thankfully the severe winter weather that had blighted other events around the country,
held off at the reasonably flat Cleveland venue, plus the threatened cold wind had abated somewhat,
which in turn made running conditions ideal for hardy competitors, especially the speedier brigade,
who certainly showed their prowess at the sharp end of each event.
It certainly worked well for Morpeth pair Kieran Hedley and Rory Leonard, who both tasted s
uperb championship victories respectively in the Under 20 and Under 17 Men’s events.
Hedley won with seventeen seconds to spare over his closest rival, and led his club
to Silver medals behind Durham City, just losing out for Gold by a slender five points,
with good supporting runs by James Young (7th), and Jake Masterman (9th).
Other excellent Morpeth performances in the Under 20 Men’s event came from Tom Inness
and Dean Lonsdale, both experiencing Cross Country Championships for the first time,
who did extremely well when finishing thirteenth and sixteenth respectively in a total field of 26.
Leonard led from gun to tape to take the Under 17 Men’s Championship by a margin of nine seconds
over Wallsend Harrier Sam Charlton, with fellow Morpeth Harrier Daniel Dixon coming home
in third place to take the Bronze medal.
Taylor Glover of Morpeth, who had been up alongside Dixon in the early stages,
found consolation from the fact that he finished in fifth place,
confirmed a 20-point margin team victory ahead of Middlesbrough (Mandale),
who on this occasion were without leading light Josh Cowperthwaite,
who would have presented the challenge that Leonard had feared most.
Other Morpeth performances in the Under 17 Men’s event came from
Daniel Melling (9th), Alex Cunningham (14th), and Connor Marshall (19th).
Unfortunately, Morpeth’s Ross Charlton was forced to pull out during this event
following an on-course collision with another competitor,
which was a bitter disappointment for the youngster.
Morpeth Harriers Senior Men had a resounding 30-point team victory over nearest challengers Durham City,
being led home by the Bronze medal winning Carl Avery, who also received tremendous team support
from Ross Floyd (8th), Jordan Scott (14th), Chris Smith (17th), Karl Taylor (20th), and Thomas Straughan (26th).
This win gave them the team title for the sixth consecutive year
Other Morpeth Harriers Senior Men in action were, Andrew Lawrence (27th), Alistair Douglass (49th),
Richard Castledine (55th), Tim Miley (84th), Anthony Holt (115th), David Nicholson (121st),
Paul Waterston (177th), and Paul Bellingham (219th).
The Senior Men’s event had a total finishing field of 315.
Emma Holt led Morpeth Harriers Senior Women home to Silver medals behind Jarrow and Hebburn, by finishing second to Sale Harriers Olympic Marathon runner Sonia Samuels, losing out by 48 seconds.
Further team support came from third placed Jane Hodgson, Josie Cram seventh, and Helen King (27th).
Morpeth’s Alison Brown also ran well to finish 34th in a total finishing field of 154.
There was a truly excellent championship result achieved by Morpeth’s Under 13 Boys,
who took Bronze team medals, courtesy of Sam Tate (7th) Ryan Davies (18th), and Bertie Marr (23rd).
Other Morpeth performances in this age group came from Joseph Hudspith (35th),
Dylan Walker (44th), and James Tilley (58th).
This event had a total of 75 finishers.
Morpeth’s other on the day medallist was Holly Peck, who won Silver,
when finishing second behind Gateshead Harrier Innes Curran in
the Under 15 Girls event, losing out for victory by seventeen seconds.
Also running for Morpeth in this event was Lily Heaton,
who finished 27th in the finishing field of 50 runners.
In addition to the medallists, Morpeth Harriers also had good performances from
their Under 15 Boys, Under 13 Girls, and Under 17/Under 20 runners.
The Under 15 Boys squad, did extremely well by finishing fifth,
courtesy of Dylan Davies (14th), Tom Balsdon (16th), and Ben Walker (19th).
Morpeth’s other runner in the finishing field of 59 was Andrew Hudspith, who finished 36th.
Unfortunately, this squad were unlucky to be without the services
of leading lights Euan Duffin and Thomas Cunningham,
otherwise they may well also have medalled.
Morpeth Harriers Under 13 Girls finished as twelfth team courtesy of
Laura Melling (40th), Faye Archbold (55th), and Sadie Charlton (65th).
The Under 13 Girls event had a total of 68 finishers.
Morpeth Harriers had two finishers in the combined Under 17/Under 20 Women’s event.
In a total finishing field Gracie Hufton finished tenth overall, and was fifth Under 17.
Further back in the field Kay Errington finished 34th overall, and was 22nd Under 17.
In the non-scoring Under 11 Girls event that accompanied the championships, Morpeth’s Kiera Peck ran well to finish fifth in a total field of 38 competitors.