A total of just over 1500 finishing runners took part in the ten event programme
at the second Start Fitness North Eastern Harrier League meeting, held at a sunny
and relatively warm Druridge Bay Country Park, on Sunday 9th October 2016.
75 of those runners belonged to the ranks of Morpeth Harriers,
as the club enjoyed one of its best days on a competitive front,
with no less than five team wins, one second team place, a third team place,
and two of their athletes managing fastest times of the day.
Following a most disappointing start to their 2016-2017 Harrier League campaign at Wrekenton the previous week,
the clubs Senior Men exacted a swift revenge upon their rivals in Division 1,
when they achieved an excellent 59-point margin of victory over Tyne Bridge Harriers,
with the third club North Shields Poly, over fifty points further adrift.
Leading the Morpeth Harriers charge was Mark Brown, who is now making
a very encouraging competitive comeback to the sport following a lengthy sabbatical.
Mark was one of the clubs leading young lights in the 90’s, and has also returned to his club
as an active Coach to some of their promising youngsters, whom he was also encouraging
from the side-lines before donning his own spikes to finish in an exemplary fourth place
from the Slow Pack, just missing out on an on the day Harrier League medal by five seconds.
He was also being watched by his own former Coach Brian Simpson, who is still taking
an active interest in the sport, despite his advancing years, and he managed a wry smile
as he watched his former charge in competitive action, leading his club to success.
One place and only one second adrift of Brown was club colleague Fergus Bates.
Sixth place also saw a Morpeth Harrier cross the finish line, this was Chris Smith, who has been selected
to run for England in the Home Countries Masters International Cross Country in Scotland next Month.
Running from the Medium Pack, Smith clocked the tenth fastest time in the 584 field of finishers.
Sam Hancox, who had competed at Sutton Park the previous day,
was the next Morpeth man home in eleventh place.
Running from the Fast Pack, he was second fastest overall behind Gateshead Harrier
Callum Johnson, who finished in seventh place, also from the Fast Pack.
Completing Morpeth Harriers Senior Men’s winning tally were
Steve Patterson (14th) (Slow Pack), and Thomas Straughan (19th) (Fast Pack.
Other Morpeth Harriers Senior Men in action were
Jordan Scott (33rd) (8th Fastest) (Fast Pack),
Tom Pattison (58th) (Slow Pack), Paul Brown (69th) (Slow Pack), Rob Hancox (11th) (Medium Pack),
Mike Winter (163rd) (Slow Pack), Andrew Richardson (165th) (Slow Pack),
Robert Cockburn (184th) (Slow Pack),
Tim Miley (201st) (Medium Pack), Paul Bellingham (202nd) (Slow Pack),
Paul Waterston (203rd) (Medium Pack),
Mark Cockburn (261st) (Fast Pack), Jim Alder (277th) (Slow Pack), Peter Scaife (311th) (Slow Pack),
Neil McAnany (316th) (Slow Pack), David Nicholson (353rd) (Slow Pack),
and Richard Kirby (359th) (Slow Pack).
Running from the Fast Pack, Morpeth Harrier Emma Holt once again produced the
second fastest time of the day when finishing fifth overall in the Senior Women’s event.
She was only headed by Sunderland Stroller Alyson Dixon,
who was twenty-six seconds faster, and two places ahead of her.
Holt led Morpeth Harriers Senior Women to first team place in Division 2,
with further support coming courtesy of Jane Hodgson (15th) (9th Fastest) (Fast Pack),
Josie Cram (24th) (11th Fastest) (Fast Pack), and Jane Briggs (73rd) (Slow Pack).
Other Morpeth Senior Women in action were
Jilly Bell (174th) (Slow Pack), Tracy Kenny (186th) (Slow Pack),
Jane Kirby (196th) (Slow Pack), Helen Bruce (211th) (Slow Pack), Carol Parry (251st) (Slow Pack),
Catriona MacDonald (271st) (Fast Pack), Sue Smith (283rd) (Slow Pack),
Pam Woodcock (284th) (Slow Pack),
Clare Hiscock (337th) (Slow Pack),
and Judith Clarkin (356th) (Slow Pack).
There were 404 finishers in the Senior Women’s event.
Daniel Dixon of Morpeth Harriers certainly continued where he signed off at Wrekenton the week previous,
when again he recorded the fastest time in the Under 15 Boys event, by coming through to second place,
and an on the day Harrier League medal in the Under 15 Boys event.
He also led Morpeth to a team win by a margin of nineteen points over Durham City,
with further team support coming from Andrew Hudspith, who finished third from the Slow Pack,
and also winning an on the day Harrier League medal,
and Daniel Melling, who finished fourteenth from the Fast Pack,
who was the day’s fifth fastest performer.
Further Morpeth results in the Under 15 Boys event came from
Thomas Cunningham (24th) (9th Fastest) (Fast Pack), and Brad Brown (49th) (Fast Pack).
Another Morpeth Harrier making a repeat of her previous week’s performance was Under 15 Girl
Holly Peck, who again produced the fastest time of the day when finishing fourth from the Fast Pack.
Holly also led Morpeth to a team win by eleven points over Houghton Harriers,
with further excellent team support coming from Ellie Coxon (13th) (7th Fastest) (Fast Pack),
and Lily Heaton (15th) (8th Fastest) (Fast Pack).
Lauren Cummings also ran well, to finish in 27th place
from her first run from the Fast Pack (14th Fastest).
Morpeth Harriers Under 17 Men secured an emphatic on the day team victory
on the day over closest rivals Durham City, being led home by Liam Marsh
who finished fourth from the Slow Pack.
Despite suffering from a painful leg injury sustained during a school Rugby match,
Matthew Waterfield ran bravely to finish in fifth place from the Slow Pack.
The Morpeth dominance was fully confirmed when Cameron Kirk finished sixth,
also running from the Slow Pack.
Although outside the scoring counts Alex Cunningham (9th) (Slow Pack),
and Rory Leonard (13th) (3rd Fastest) (Fast Pack), both produced excellent performances,
the latter less than 24 hours after running at Sutton Coldfield in the National Relays.
Another excellent Morpeth performer on the day was Joe Ramshaw,
who finished 20th from the Fast Pack, who is still ineligible to count
for his new club following his transfer from Gosforth Harriers.
Ramshaw was the fifth fastest in the field, and he will certainly prove
to be a much prized asset, once he is clear of team suspension.
A truly excellent effort by three Morpeth Harriers brought a superb
second team place for their combined Under 17/Under 20 Women’s squad.
The efforts by this small squad are to be warmly applauded,
and on Saturday they were led home by the talented Under 17 athlete Gracie Hufton,
who continues to improve under the continued coaching support of Mike Bateman and his team of helpers.
Hufton held more than her nerve and determination, as she finished sixth from the Slow Pack,
which should see her promoted to the Medium Pack for the next meeting in November.
Excellent team support came from Under 20 athletes Alison Brown and Abby Sheldon.
Brown, running from the Medium Pack finished tenth, and was sixth fastest in the race.
Sheldon meanwhile beavered away to finish thirteenth from the Slow Pack,
which enabled her club to achieve a superb result, which saw them finish
seventeen points adrift of on the day winners Sunderland Harriers.
An excellent third team place was achieved by Morpeth Harriers in the Under 13 Boys event.
They were led home by Ollie Bruce, whose determined run from the Slow Pack saw him finish ninth.
Next home from the club was this year’s road champion Dylan Davies,
whose Fast Pack effort saw him finish in sixteenth place, and as eighth fastest in the race.
Morpeth’s scoring count was completed by Callum Rowell,
another fast improving talent, who finished 21st from the Slow Pack.
What is pleasing to see for Morpeth in this age group is the growing level
of willingness to compete, and the standard of the talent outside the scoring three.
Other Morpeth results came from
Alex Porteous (31st) (15th fastest) (Fast Pack),
Noah Ions (46th) (Slow Pack), Jack Barrett (54th) (Fast Pack),
and Reece Garrett (70th) (Slow Pack).
Morpeth Harriers Under 13 Girls squad, led home by the very talented Rhiannon Hedley,
who after a very busy and successful Track campaign, is gradually building up her strength for the
lengthy Cross Country campaign, finished as seventh team behind a very strong Houghton Harriers performance.
For her part, Hedley finished in fourteenth place from the Fast Pack,
posting the equal seventh fastest time in the event.
Three places behind Hedley was another promising Morpeth talent in Mia Belton, who ran from the Slow Pack.
Laura Melling completed the Morpeth scoring tally when she finished 41st from the Slow Pack.
The club’s other performer in this age group Molly Ions finished 67th from the Slow Pack.
Morpeth Harriers had a total of ten runners involved in the non-scoring Under 11 events.
They had five lined up in the Boys race, and five in the Girls race.
In the Boys event Dylan Walker was first home from the club, finishing in ninth place,
just fractionally ahead of club colleague Harry Jackson in tenth place.
Other Morpeth Boys in action were Bruce Smith (22nd), Liam Roche (28th), and Joe Dixon (89th).
In the Girls event Maisie Dickinson was first home from the club in 14th place.
Next home was Under 11 Girls club road champion Sophia Cunningham, who finished 20th.
Also in action for Morpeth Harriers in the Under 11 Girls event
were Lauren Garrett (34th), Keira Peck (41st), and Molly Haldane (64th).
Many thanks go to Dave Kitching and his ever willing team at
Blyth Running Club for their organisation on the day at Druridge.
Thankfully the fine weather very much played its part in making it all very enjoyable.