The first ever Start Fitness North Eastern Harrier League
to be held at Druridge Bay Country Park in Northumberland,
on Saturday 28th November 2015 will certainly be a memorable one,
both in terms of conditions, which could easily be described as
soft and very muddy underfoot, and for organisation,
which in the main was excellently carried out by Blyth Running Club,
who despite a couple of on the day mishaps,
emerged with a great deal of well earned credit.
What they could not make to order however was the weather,
which ranged from strong winds, squally showers,
which in turn worsened the already damp underfoot conditions
to almost swamp-like at the culmination of the ten event programme.
Blyth’s Ralph Dickenson and Dave Kitching could
easily be heard to say at the end of proceedings,
“well I’m glad we got that one away”
as daylight quickly turned into night
as the post event clear-up took place.
On to the competition itself however and again it was a fairly respectable day at the office for Morpeth Harriers.
Although they didn’t quite match up to the previous week’s successes at Aykley Heads, they did manage three on the day individual wins, two team victories, and three third placed teams.
One individual victory that certainly brought much deserved pleasure to the athlete and also to the club, was that of Senior Man Graeme Taylor, who, running from the Slow Pack, won with fifteen seconds to spare over his closest rival over the 9.6k course.
Taylor has spent months of inactivity due to injury,
and this win was not only a confidence booster for him,
but also the fact that he had emerged from the somewhat sloppy conditions, thankfully injury free.
Morpeth Harriers Senior Men finished second in the
Division 1 team race behind Sunderland Harriers,
courtesy of further counts coming from James Young (14th) (Slow Pack), John Butters (22nd) (Medium Pack), Tony Lewis (30th) (Medium Pack),
Mark Cockburn (32nd) (Medium Pack),
and Ross Floyd (34th) (Fast Pack).
The fact that Floyd had finished 34th as first from the Fast Pack,
clearly highlighted a problem that had occurred, that the entire Fast Pack
had been sent off course on their first of three laps, resulting in them
running around 500 metres extra approximately.
Whether the outcome of team affairs at the end of the day would change,
remains unknown, however Grand Prix times were also certainly affected,
a matter for the League Management to resolve.
Other Morpeth Harriers Senior Men in action in the
537 strong field of finishers were as follows
Steve Haswell (49th) (Slow Pack), Neil Gunstone (57th) (Slow Pack),
Tim Miley (62nd) (Medium Pack), Robert Balmbra (73rd) (Fast Pack),
Paul Waterston (89th) (Medium Pack), Chris Smith (100th) (Fast Pack),
Tom Pattison (106th) (Slow Pack), Sam Hancox (116th) (Fast Pack),
Rob Hancox (121st) (Medium Pack), David Nicholson (128th) (Slow Pack),
Karl Taylor (135th) (Fast Pack), Steve Patterson (148th) (Medium Pack),
Michael Skeldon (165th) (Slow Pack), Alistair MacDonald (187th) (Slow Pack),
Peter Scaife (218th) (Slow Pack), Richard Kirby (255th) (Slow Pack),
Paul Bellingham (260th) (Slow Pack), and Mark Snowball (262nd) (Fast Pack).
Morpeth Harriers Under 15 Boys enjoyed yet another team victory in their 3.2k event.
Leading them home was Daniel Dixon, who also took time to enjoy a superb individual victory from the Slow Pack, by a margin of fifty seconds
over his closest rival, and clocked the day’s second fastest time overall. It was indeed a very proud day for Daniel, being watched by his father Gordon,
also a Morpeth Harrier, and also his God-Father,
former Morpeth Harrier Paul Fairbrother,
who was on a family visit from Scotland.
Dixon was joined in the team success by Brad Brown (7th) (Slow Pack), and Taylor Glover (9th) (Fast Pack), who had the day’s fastest time.
Next home for Morpeth was Rory Leonard, winner at Aykley Heads the previous week.
Despite being elevated to the Fast Pack as a result of his win, he could feel well pleased with finishing 15th,
and posting the day’s third fastest time behind club colleagues Glover and Dixon.
Other Morpeth Under 15 Boys performances came from
Ross Charlton (19th) (Fast Pack) (5th Fastest),
Connor Marshall (27th) (Fast Pack) (9th Fastest),
Daniel Melling (28th) (Fast Pack) (10th Fastest),
Sam Bradley (39th) (Slow Pack), Matthew Waterfield (41st) (Fast Pack),
and Alex Cunningham (57th) (Fast Pack).
For the third Harrier League in succession, Morpeth’s Holly Peck posted the fastest time in the Under 13 Girls event.
Running from the Fast Pack, she finished third, only three seconds adrift of second, and twenty three seconds adrift of club colleague Lauren Cummings, who had a clear win from the Slow Pack, clocking the sixth fastest time on the 3.2k course.
Along with Peck, Cummings led Morpeth
to a superb team win, with further support coming from fourth placed
Lily Heaton, who as well as Peck,
was also running from the Fast Pack, and clocked the second fastest time.
Morpeth Harriers other runner in this event Rhiannon Hedley,also competed well, finishing seventh overall from the Fast Pack,
posting the fifth fastest time.
Led home by Josh Burton (16th) (Fast Pack), Morpeth Harriers Under 17 Men
finished as third team behind Durham City in their 5k event.
Further Morpeth team support came courtesy of Jacob Hopkins (24th) (Fast Pack),
and Jamie Duguid (25th) (Slow Pack), who unfortunately finished with a very
painful Achilles tendon injury, and may be out of action for the foreseeable future.
In their 4.2k event, Morpeth Harriers combined Under17/Under 20 Women
finished as third team behind Gateshead Harriers.
This event also saw an on course error take place,
with the entire Fast Pack, with a time difference of 150 seconds,
being sent on to complete the longer lap first,
whilst the Slow Pack completed the required short lap first.
It effectively meant that for most of the race, the Slow Pack
were following behind the Fast Pack.
Matters were resolved when Fast Pack runners were diverted t
o do their short lap at the end of proceedings.
Leading Morpeth home was Lizzie Rank, who was fifty seconds
adrift of the race winner, running from the Slow Pack.
Further Morpeth team support came from Abby Sheldon (22nd) (Fast Pack),
and Charlotte Jewell (23rd) (Fast Pack).
Morpeth Harriers had an excellent turnout in the Under 13 Boys 3.2k event, where no fewer than nine of the clubs athletes faced the Starter.
First home for the club was Jack Barrett, who finished 13th from the Slow Pack.
One place behind Jack, and having an excellent run from the Fast Pack was Thomas Cunningham,
who emerged as seventh fastest overall on the day.
Closing the Morpeth Harriers scoring count for fourth team place on the day was Ben Walker, who finished 18th from the Fast Pack, and was tenth fastest overall.
Other Morpeth Under 13 Boys performances came from Joshua Adams (22nd) (Slow Pack),
Alex Porteous (26th) (Slow Pack), Aaron Haldane (41st) (Slow Pack), Reece Garrett (51st) (Slow Pack), Adam Willoughby (59th) (Slow Pack),
and Jack Lackenby (61st) (Slow Pack).
In the Senior Women’s 6.2k event, Morpeth Harriers finished as fifth team in Division 2 behind
Scoring counts came from Gemma Floyd (4th) (Slow Pack), Catriona MacDonald (27th) (Medium Pack),
Gwenda Cavill (124th) (Slow Pack),
and Jane Briggs (152nd) (Medium Pack).
Also competing for Morpeth Harriers in the Senior Women’s event were Shuna Rank (154th) (Slow Pack), and Sue Smith (187th) (Slow Pack).
It was good to see Morpeth Harriers fielding an Under 15 Girls team in their 3.2k event.
They managed to finish as sixth team behind Tynedale Harriers, being led home by Ellie Coxon,
who came home to finish seventeenth in a 61 strong field from the Fast Pack.
Ellie was eighth fastest overall.
Morpeth’s second counter was Kate Seymour, who finished 27th from the Fast Pack,
and the team count was completed by Gracie Hufton, who courageously competed
throughout most of her race minus one shoe, having being sucked off
by the mud in one of the heavier stretches, to finish 30th from the Fast Pack.
The non scoring Under 11 Boys 1.2k event had five Morpeth Harriers amongst the 59 finishers.
Once again Jack Livingstone was well to the fore, and he was only eighteen seconds adrift of the winner in seventh place.
Four places behind Jack was his Morpeth
club colleague Callum Rowell.
Next to finish from the club was relative newcomer Harry Jackson, who came home in 23rd place, and was certainly one of the youngest in the field.
Other Morpeth Under 11 Boy finishers were Dylan Walker (27th), and Joe Dixon (56th).
In the Under 11 Girls event, run over the same distance as the Boys, Morpeth Harriers
two competitors Sophia Cunningham and Lauren Carrett finished 33rd
and 35th respectively in a field of 51 finishers.
Concluding, Blyth Running Club are to be congratulated on their on the day organising of the event,
although the inclement weather was not totally in their favour,
everything was completed to the satisfaction of all, and despite the
odd hiccups everyone eventually departed from Druridge Bay Country Park,
albeit some stragglers in pitch darkness, however, fully satisfied that a job had been well done.
One abiding memory, and what did make for a most bliss-full sight,
was the reflection of the Moon, shimmering on the now tranquil Lake.