After a difficult Saturday, it was a better day all round for the club on a damp and foggy Sunday morning (7th April 2019) at the annual Port of Blyth 10k with Morpeth Harriers making up the largest contingent of entrants and many enjoying both team and individual success.
Although the conditions were not good for spectators, they were however suited to some fast times on the traditional out and back course from the quayside at Blyth to Seaton Sluice via the beach promenade and dunes path, with some five pbs registered.
With the race awarded the honour of incorporating the annual British Masters 10k Championships for 2019 – and so effectively having a ‘two in one’ structure - entries had sold out many weeks ago and the field included a strong representation of the country’s leading veterans. Morpeth veteran and NEMAA secretary,
the indefatigable Archie Jenkins had flagged up the race several months previously,
and had indeed been personally instrumental in securing such a prestigious
national veterans race for this part of the world, as was acknowledged by the BMAF later
(indeed, he would even be called into action for help in some of the more arcane Scottish pronunciations
at the prize giving).
The race itself was won by a visitor from Milton Keynes Distance Project, Noah Hurton(strange name for a club: not exactly the Nike Oregon Project; and aren’t ‘projects’ things your teacher set you at Middle School?’ ), in a time of 31 minutes and 18 seconds from Richard Mair of Kilmarnock Harriers in second and first local lad, Jordan Bell of Blackhill in third (31m 44s).
First home for Morpeth was leading Over 40 veteran John Butters, who clocked 33m 7s in 10th. With his club colleagues Phil Winkler (15th) – who had run less than 24 hours previously in the National 12 stage relay – in 15th and Lee Bennett 21st, the men were awarded the 1st team prize.
There was double joy for Bennett who was also first O/50.
In the women’s race, Olympian marathon runner Alison Dixon of Sunderland Strollers (now an Over 40, unbelievably) broke the course record by clocking 33m 27s, winning by a margin of well over two minutes from Elizabeth Renondeau of Vale Royal AC.
Jane Hodgson was 4th woman home but first O/35 ((37m 8s) and with youngster Robyn Bennett running a personal best of 37m 58s in 6th and Helen King (39m 31s) making up the team count in 17th, Morpeth’s women matched their male counterparts in winning the team prize. With three separate prizes, Jane must have been pleased that she decided to run after a lot of deliberation caused by long-term injury worries.
There were a whole raft of strong performances for the club as a whole: Tom Innes, 11th in a new pb of 34m 13s; Graeme Thorpe, 36m 15s and 7th O/45; Mark Brown, 64th in 37m 14s; Jake Masterman, 68th in 37m 32s; Jason Dawson, 11th O/45 in 38m 9s, a pb; Paul Waterston, 12th O/50 in 38m 35s; Dave Nicholson, 6th O/60 in 39m 13s; Gavin Bayne, 8th O/60 in 40m 14s; Paul Brown, 14th O/55 in 41m 23s; Jim Alder ‘the younger’, 14th O/55 in 42m 33s; Nobby Clark, 10th O/65 in 48m 17s; Pam Woodcock, 3rd O/65 in 50m 41s; Paul Bentley, 9th O/70 in 52m 54s; and last but certainly not least, Walter Ryder, down from Scotland once again, first O/80 in 1h 1m 50s.
Special mention should perhaps be made of the performance of Mark Brown, who has had a wretched few years with injury, but on the back of only three training runs a week ran a time he hadn’t dared possible in the weeks beforehand; perhaps it was being a local lad, or perhaps some atavistic knowledge of a course he had held the record for on two separate occasions (the current record belongs of course to Peter Newton), Despite actually stopping at the 5 mile point (‘I thought I was going to be sick!’) he was justifiably delighted with his run, hopefully the start of an extended comeback as a vet.
In the British Masters competition there was both individual and team success, with no less than three individual and one team gold medals, backed up by one individual silver, one bronze and a further team bronze to boot.
The quality of the competition here was formidable, with leading vets from all over the country and some quite astonishing performances, especially amongst the older competitors. Among many others out of the top drawer, worthy of mention were the times of 45m 13s recorded by Dorothy Kesterton in the O/65, Stanley Owen’s 39m 14s as an O/65 and perhaps most extraordinary, James Pittilo: 1h 4m 59s as an Over 85 year old! Perhaps there’s hope for us all yet.
Both Butters and Bennett picked up BMAF gold medals by finishing as first in their respective categories, and their success was matched by the ageless Walter Ryder, who had once again made the long journey south from his home in the West of Scotland to pick up the O/80 medal. Jane Hodgson added a BMAF silver and Pam Woodcock an O/65 bronze.
The team gold came courtesy of the men’s O/45 team of Lee Bennett, Graeme Thorpe (who, like Winkler, had competed on the Saturday) and Jason Dawson, delighted to pick up his first Morpeth medals since his transfer from Alnwick Harriers. The bronze was for the club’s O/55 men, Dave, Gav and Paul Bellingham (although both the first two are shortly moving up to compete as O/65s).
For future reference, a look at the team medals does show that finishing a team in most
categories will lead to a good medal chance, so thanks again to Archie for the heads up.
Special mention must be made of the excellent facilities provided by the Port of Blyth as sponsors and,
as ever, the witty words of MC Kevin Freeman of host club Blyth.
PS The next NEMAA event is the three man/woman road relays at Bedewell Park in Jarrow on the night of Wednesday 1st May: do let your team manager know of your availability – normally an enjoyable evening.