England Athletics guidance issued on 26 February offered a clear roadmap for the resumption of sporting activities.
Practically, this means for Morpeth Harriers:
Best wishes – see you on the 29th, with no excuses for muddy shoes or dirty kit.
There will be at least one Morpeth Harrier at this year’s Tokyo Olympics, with news that Mongolian international marathon runner Serod Batochir has qualified after posting a tremendous 2 hours 9 minutes 29 seconds in the Lake Biwa Marathon in Japan last month.
Known commonly by just his nickname of ‘Ziggy’, Batochir’s story is in itself extraordinary. Hailing from a country with little if any tradition of athletics, Batochir tells stories of needing to don at least two track suits to train in the intense cold, although these days much of his time is spent on the Japanese and Asian marathon circuit rather than at home in Ulan Bator.
Batochir arrived in Gateshead in the Spring of 2009, settling in the North East to be close to his wife’s sister and family, and with the aim of acclimatising himself for London 2012, linked up with Morpeth Harriers to train.
He quickly became involved in the local road racing season – winning, amongst other events, the North Tyneside 10k, where his time of 30 minutes 20 seconds set an impressive course record – and helped the club to a team gold in the Northern Athletics 12 stage Road Relays at Catterick and a bronze in the English National event in Birmingham. There were smiles also when he was awarded the ‘Best local runner’ in the Blaydon Race.
Batochir would go on to break the club’s own marathon record, then held by Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Mark Hudspith, when he posted a time of 2:11:35 in the London Marathon in 2011, a time he would improve down to 2:08:50 in 2014 at the Fukuoka Marathon.
A lifetime member of the club by virtue of the major games in which he has appeared, among many achievements are his victory in the Asian Marathon Championships in 2013 and his appearances in no less than eight World Championships for his country.
At the ripe old age of 39, the Tokyo Olympics will be Serod’s fifth consecutive Olympic games, a remarkable achievement in anyone’s book.
Morpeth Harrier Daniel Dixon has secured a prestigious Team England Sir John Hanson Scholarship to support his bid to compete at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
The scholarship was launched in 2019 to provide funding for five young athletes.
“My dad was actually an iron man athlete and went to the world championships and I think that was my first knowledge of triathlon as a sport, so it just progressed from there,” Dixon recalled.“I went to my first one all those years ago and it just gave me the bug to keep going, and it’s been a heck of a journey since then.”
Dixon, 18, is a 3 x British Youth Triathlon Champion, 2 x Super League Youth Triathlon Champion and is also one of only a few athletes to have won a Riga ETU European Cup at the age of just 16.
“I do want to win everything. I really do want to go to the Commonwealth Games and win, I do want to be an Olympic champion.
“The Commonwealth Games is obviously really special, and I’ve known about it for a long time. There’s been Glasgow 2014, which was close to home, but now with it coming to Birmingham, it’s always been there in the back of my mind.
“Even though it’s not in Northumberland, it’s certainly a home Games and that’s really special for an up and coming athlete, and I will do absolutely everything I can to make sure I’m on that start line next year.”
With a home Commonwealth Games now only 18-months away, Dixon will be receiving funding to help him on his quest to emulate athletes like Alistair and Jonny Brownlee and add to Team England’s already rich trophy cabinet in the sport of triathlon.
“The fact that I’ve got this scholarship is really beneficial because it means I’ll be able to use the funding to help me go out to more races than I could have otherwise gone to.
“In terms of that helping to leapfrog me into the Commonwealth Games, that extra racing experience could help me get to a position where I can start to think about qualifying for Birmingham, so it’s really important and I’m so grateful for having that funding behind me.
“Getting to compete at a home Commonwealth Games would be absolutely amazing, the most special thing would be having everyone who’s helped me get to where I am today come and watch me in that moment.
“But for now, I just need to keep my head down and keep working, because I really do want to be on that start line next year.”
Daniel replaces judoka Kelly Petersen-Pollard on the programme. Kelly recently included on the UK Sport funding programme and is now receiving APA funding, due to her recent success, so is therefore no longer eligible for this support.
The club committee would like to take the opportunity to share with you where we are as a club financially in particular with regard to the issue of membership fees for 2021, while thanking you for all your support in what has been probably the most challenging year for our sport that any of us have known.
We all hope to see a return to regular training without any restrictions in the future, the full use of facilities and - perhaps most importantly - active competition. Unfortunately, this looks still to be several months away, and in the meantime we would like to put on record our appreciation for members and parents who have had to cope with the various closures and changes. Your active support is very much appreciated through all the permutations of lockdowns.
In view of the challenges of the past year, and the loss of many training and competition opportunities, we are planning to lower membership fees for 2021, but also to defer the collection of them until 1 April. While we still have a number of significant financial commitments which we have had to honour, and also lost our own race promotions (our major source of revenue) we were however fortunate to receive a welcome grant from Northumberland County Council, and have also of course not had many of our regular outgoings (for example, Track and Field matches, Northern and National Relays, North East Harrier League etc).
Accordingly, for those members who paid their subs in 2020, we propose a discounted membership rate as follows:
However, in view of the current ongoing uncertainties around the sport, we also propose to defer the collection of these subs until 1 April 2021. There are several reasons for doing so. By then, we should have a better idea of what kinds of competition will resume and of course, when. We will also hopefully have further clarification from England Athletics re 2021 registrations as regards dates due and amounts (these are normally renewable from 1 April each year but were valid until 31 August in 2020).
On a purely practical level for us as a club, it gives us more time to bring our membership records up-to-date following the untimely death of our membership secretary, with the opportunity also to identify those taking membership benefits without payment – sadly an annual source of frustration, even if this is only a small number of athletes.
For members who, for whatever reason, did not pay in 2020, subscriptions will also not be due until 1 April 2021. The subscription rates will be announced prior to that date, but will not, however, include the above discount. We will, of course, keep members informed of any changes and of the dates and means of payment.
It goes without saying that for Morpeth Harriers, as for any amateur sporting organisation, the prompt payment of membership fees is absolutely crucial to our continued effective functioning. Can we again repeat however that we will be collecting subs due for 2021 after 1 April.
We do hope we will see a return to normality of some kind in the next few months, but would look again to offer a pro rata discount in 2022 should be there significant further disruption.
Best wishes to all members and parents for the New Year despite all the continuing difficulties with hope for a better future, and continued thanks for your support.
Morpeth Harriers committee
All club activities, including training for Seniors and Juniors, is now suspended following the decision to place England under a new lockdown.
The club track at KEVI is now also closed with immediate effect.
Under the new rules, it is still permitted to exercise outside, including with one other person from outside your household.
For more details on what is permitted, see the latest guidance from Sport England.