Missing out on a medal by the narrowest of 12 second margins, Morpeth Harriers’ Senior Men’s squad finished in the cruellest of fourth places at the Northern Athletics 6 Stage Relays
at Sportcity, Manchester on Sunday 15th September 2019.
This year’s strong competition over individual legs of 6.8 kilometres (4¼ miles) was won by Leeds City in a time of 2 hours 31 seconds with Sale Harriers in 2nd place (2:02:43) and Salford Harriers 3rd (2:02:59).
For Morpeth, Sam Hancox finished in 13th place on the usual keenly contested first leg (20 minutes and 30 seconds) with Adam Pratt recording 21m 48s on leg 2. George Lowry moved the club up a whole ten places to 8th on leg 3 while recording the same time as Hancox.
In his first Senior outing for the club, Rory Leonard (20m 36s) got the club up to 4th and Alex Brown (20m 20s) kept them there. However, despite a flying 19m 27s last leg from Carl Avery, the 3rd fastest overall of the day, the gap proved tantalisingly just too big to close for a bronze medal, the overall time being 2:03:11.
The leading positions did not, in fact, change hands after leg 3. Fastest leg of the day was recorded by Philip Sesemann of Leeds (19m 18s) with Altrincham’s Mohammed Aburezeq clocking 19m 22s.
Nevertheless, team manager David Swinburne pointed to the comparative youth and inexperience of the team, three of whom were competing at this level for the first time, and also singled out the solid performance of the club’s B team, who finished in a commendable 23rd place overall with a time of 2:12:41. A number of other leading athletes will hopefully also be available for the National, leaving selectors with some difficult choices.
For the B team, Richard Johnson clocked 22m 6s to come home in 42nd place, Jake Masterman 22m 27s to move the team upto 40th and Dan Melling 22m 11s after which the team were in 36th. Phil Winkler recorded the team’s fastest leg of 21m 41s to move them into the top 30, and Mark Snowball kept the upward direction
with 22m 15s for 25th place. Experienced Andy Lawrence (who deserves a medal for his chauffeuring services alone) got them up a further two places to 23rd with 22m 1s.
This means the club will qualify two teams for the National 6 Stage Relays in a few weeks time.
Interestingly, Salford’s B finished in an overall 5th and their C 21st! Leeds’ B were 10th and Sale’s 22nd,
all clearly showing the strength of these clubs. Morpeth did have the satisfaction once again of finishing as leading North East team ahead of local outfits Tyne Bridge Harriers in 11th and Gateshead in 17th.
Morpeth’s Under 15 boys also had a very creditable performance, finishing in 5th place in the earlier three man relay held over a distance of 3100m. Finishing in an overall time of 35m 30s, Joe Dixon clocked the club’s fastest time (11m 22s) with Bertie Marr recording 12m 00s on leg 2 and Ryan Davies 12m 14s on leg 3. Dixon’s time was the 8th fastest overall of the day.