Morpeth Harriers were particularly well represented at the annual Royal Signals Road Relays,
held at Hetton Lyons Country Park on Saturday 18th February, which incorporated the
North-Eastern Counties Athletics Association Championships,
where they superbly managed to retain two titles,
and took much prized Silver Team medals in another.
Morpeth Harriers Senior Men retained their title for the third successive year in their 6x2.2mile Relay,
and not to be outdone, the Senior Women retained their title
for the second year in succession in their 4x2.2mile Relay.
In addition, the clubs Over 50 Men superbly took Silver medals when
finishing second to North Shields Poly in their 4x2.2mile event.
Posting a fourth leg finishing time of 10m29s, Under 20 Northern Cross Country Champion Scott Beattie,
was very easily the fastest on show in the Senior Men’s event,
and he firmly turned the tide for the Morpeth Men’s A team,
as they went into an unassailable lead that was never relinquished.
In the end, they won by a clear two minutes and sixteen seconds from New Marske,
who just pipped the Morpeth Senior Men’s B team into second place by a mere two seconds,
who had got off to an excellent first leg start, coming home in poll position, albeit by a mere
three seconds ahead of Birtley, courtesy of Ross Floyd’s sixth equal fastest clocking of 10m49s.
Other performances in the Senior Men’s A team came from Robert Balmbra (11m05s),
Ian Harding (10m59s) (16th = Fastest), Sam Hancox (11m05s),
Nick Swinburn (10m40s) (3rd Fastest), and Carl Avery (10m42s) (4th Fastest).
The Senior Men’s outstanding victory was just the icing on the top of an already well baked cake,
as earlier in the day Morpeth Harriers Senior Women had achieved a superb win in their 4 x 2.2mile Relay,
which gave them their second North East title in succession in the event.
Posting what was the second fastest time of the day of 12m18s, which was only surpassed by
Sunderland Stroller Marathon International Alyson Dixon, who managed an excellent 11m53s on second leg,
final leg runner Emma Holt brought the club home to victory
by a margin of thirty seconds over second placed Jarrow and Hebburn.
Earlier legs by Josie Cram (12m48s) (5th Fastest), Jane Hodgson (12m51s) (6th = Fastest),
and Gemma Floyd (13m33s), had seen them always in a very challenging position
throughout a tense battle with eventual Silver medallists Jarrow and Hebburn,
Bronze medallists Gosforth Harriers, and North Yorkshire guests Richmond and Zetland.
What was very clear to see here was the superb team spirit which engineered a most formidable victory.
Morpeth Harriers were also medallists in the Over 50 Men’s event, run alongside
the Senior Women’s event, and also over four legs of 2.2mile distance.
They took well-earned Silver medals in a very tough battle alongside
early leaders Sunderland Harriers, and eventual winners North Shields Poly.
Rob Hancox came home in third place on leg one, posting a time of 12m46s,
which was to be the third fastest overall Over 50 Men’s time, and only a mere
twelve seconds adrift of leaders Sunderland Harriers,
with North Shields lodged into second place, only ten seconds ahead.
This all changed for Morpeth on leg two, courtesy of a fine performance by Phil Walker,
whose clocking of 13m03s was the fastest of the leg, and took his squad into poll position
ahead a deposed Sunderland Harriers, who were now nineteen seconds adrift,
with North Shields Poly bearing down on them as the halfway stage was reached.
It was all change again on leg three, as North Shields Poly went into the lead,
courtesy of an excellent 11m19s by Guy Bracken, easily the day’s fastest Over 50 time,
however Alistair MacDonald managed to hold on to second place, posting a personal time of 13m16s,
which gave him a twenty-four second margin over Sunderland Harriers going into the final leg,
which was run by Tim Miley.
Miley got around the 2.2mile leg, posting an excellent 13m05s, which maintained
the margin over Sunderland Harriers, however in doing so, he had also severely
eaten into North Shields Poly’s seventy-five second lead, having whittled it down
to a mere thirty seconds at the death, and fully deserved the Silver medal team award.
In addition to the medal winning performances, Morpeth Harriers can also
be very proud of some of the other performances,
which saw them achieve some highly-placed performances,
both on a team, and individual basis.
Earlier in the report, we highlighted that the Senior Men’s B team
were just run out of a runners up spot by New Marske.
In the end, they finished third, however could not claim a set of medals, as championship rules
clearly state that B team performances cannot count in terms of medals,
so Bronze went to fourth placed Gateshead Harriers, who had finished three seconds adrift.
Following Ross Floyd’s excellent first leg performance, other B team performances came from
Andrew Lawrence (11m28s), Thomas Straughan (10m54s) (11th Fastest), Taylor Glover (11m15s),
Chris Smith (11m16s), and Mark Snowball (11m36s).
Completing a truly excellent day for Morpeth’s Senior Men, was the performance by their C team,
which saw them finish a superb ninth, courtesy of Alistair Douglass (12m01s),
James Young (10m59s) (16th = Fastest), Joe Ramshaw (11m29s),
Tony Lewis (12m39s), Steve Patterson (12m24s), and Tom Innis (12m41s).
Particularly pleasing performances were by James Young, still an Under 20 athlete,
Joe Ramshaw, and Taylor Glover, who are still Under 17’s, and Tom Innis,
who was making his debut in this level of competition.
There were also some superb performances by the non-medalling Senior Women’s squads,
who finished in sixth and twenty sixth places in strong fields respectively.
The Morpeth B team performances came from Alison Brown (14m37s), Lorna MacDonald (13m20s),
Gracie Hufton, an Under 17, making her debut in Senior competition (14m48s),
and Catriona MacDonald (13m49s), which took them from seventeenth to their final ninth placing.
There were some excellent and very pleasing performances
from the Morpeth Women’s C team, and they were as follows
Jane Kirby (15m53s), Susan Smith (17m15s),
an excellent debut run from Frankie Wilson (15m46s),
and Lindsay Turnbull (15m34s),
which saw the squad rise from their early placing of 32nd.
Overall, a truly excellent day on the road by the club.