Morpeth Harriers Olympian Laura Weightman, who has also been selected to run in the Women’s 5,000m
at the forthcoming 2018 Commonwealth Games, scheduled to be held on the Gold Coast
in Australia in April, returned to the scene of her 2016 North Eastern Counties Cross Country
Championship triumph on Saturday 18th November 2017 at Aykley Heads, Durham,
to win the Senior Women’s 4.2mile (two lap) event from the Fast Pack,
at the third Start Fitness North Eastern Harrier League fixture.
After giving a 210 second handicapped start to the majority of the near 350 strong finishing field,
Weightman worked her way through to win by a margin of six seconds from Gateshead
Harrier Veteran Michelle Nolan, who had benefitted greatly by her Slow Pack start.
Whilst Weightman clearly was the fastest on the course, by just under a minute,
second fastest was her Morpeth club colleague Emma Holt, who finished fourth from the Fast Pack.
With Weightman first and Holt fourth, Morpeth were sitting well in the Division 1 team race,
and their superiority in that respect was fully confirmed, when Jane Hodgson
finished seven seconds and one place behind Holt, also from the Fast Pack,
and Josie Cram came home in eleventh spot, again from the Fast Pack.
Morpeth finished eighteen points ahead of one of the host clubs Elvet Striders,
with Gateshead Harriers led by Nolan in third spot.
Other Morpeth Harriers Senior Women in action in the event were,
Alison Brown (69th) (Fast Pack), Jilly Bell (110th) (Slow Pack),
Sue Smith (121st) (Slow Pack), Lesley Chapman (210th) (Slow Pack),
and Pam Woodcock (266th) (Slow Pack).
It was another superb weekend for Morpeth’s hardworking Under 17 Men’s squad,
who were very clear team winners in their two lap 4.2mile event.
They actually were so strong, that they beat their own B team, who were second, however it was Durham City who were given the runners up team spot, virtue of the fact that B teams did not count.
Third team place went to Gateshead Harriers, who were the official fourth placed squad.
It was also a splendid individual result for the club,
as they had the first two past the post,
courtesy of Daniel Dixon and Ross Charlton,
both running from the Slow Pack in their
first Under 17 Men’s Harrier League outing.
Dixon was the second fastest in the race overall, and both collected on
the day Gold and Silver Harrier League medals, in respect of their achievements.
The Morpeth team victory was certainly confirmed, when the previous week’s
Heaton Road Race winner Taylor Glover finished seventh from the Fast Pack,
after giving 210 seconds handicap advantage to fourteen of the 32 strong field of finishers,
including Dixon and Charlton.
Glover was third fastest, behind Wallsend’s Sam Charlton,
who finished fifth from a Fast Pack Start.
Morpeth were also well represented in this event by Daniel Melling (9th) (Fast Pack),
Matthew Waterfield (15th) (Fast Pack), Alex Cunningham (16th) (Fast Pack),
Connor Marshall (23rd) (Fast Pack), and Brad Brown (26th) (Slow Pack).
Under 20 athlete Kieran Hedley certainly took full advantage of his Slow Pack start, on his very first appearance in the Senior Men’s three lap 6.3mile event, finishing second to visiting athlete Sebastian Anthony of West Suffolk.
With Anthony appearing as an on the day guest competitor, Hedley was awarded a Harrier League Gold medal, with his third finishing club colleague Ross Floyd, running from the Medium Pack, taking an on the day Silver medal.
Floyd ran an identical time to race winner Anthony, and was the fourth equal fastest in the event.
With Hedley and Floyd very much at the helm of a truly excellent Division 1 team performance by Morpeth,
an on the day team success was confirmed, courtesy of supporting runs by Andrew Lawrence (7th) (Medium Pack),
John Butters (16th) (Medium Pack), Jordan Scott (18th) (Fast Pack), and Chris Smith (34th) (Fast Pack).
Other good on the day performances by Morpeth Senior Men, came from Richard Castledine (46th) (Medium Pack), Will Clark (76th) (Medium Pack), Dean Lonsdale (102nd) (Medium Pack), Thomas Innes (111th) (Fast Pack), Alistair Douglass (117th) (Fast Pack), Tim Miley (129th) (Medium Pack), Steve Haswell (188th) (Medium Pack), Mark Cockburn (208th) (Medium Pack), Richard Kirby (228th) (Slow Pack), Paul Bellingham (260th) (Slow Pack), Robert Cockburn (296th) (Slow Pack), and John Clark (399th) (Slow Pack).
On the day, Morpeth Senior Men won by a clear seventy-three points ahead of Durham City,
with Tyne Bridge in third spot, a further forty-one points adrift.
This puts the club in a very good cumulative position, halfway through the season.
A total of 544 finishers took part in the Senior Men’s event.
Morpeth’s Tom Balsdon made an impressive start to his Cross-Country season,
when he finished second in the Under 15 Boys 2.1mile, single lap event,
and claimed an on the day Harrier League Silver Medal as a result of his efforts.
Running from the Slow Pack, he was twenty-seven seconds adrift of
Gateshead Harrier David Race, and was eighth fastest overall in the 55-strong field of finishers.
He led Morpeth to fourth team place, with further supporting performances
coming from Dylan Davies (10th) (Fast Pack), and Jack Findlayson (46th) (Slow Pack).
Although she again finished second to her fiercest rival Ines Curran
of Gateshead Harriers in the Under 15 Girls event, Morpeth’s Holly Peck
is still maintaining superb form ahead of major championships.
She lost out to Curran by nine seconds in the one lap 2.1mile challenge,
but still managed to finish ahead of another strong rival
Emily Chong of Chester Le Street, who was a close third from the Fast Pack.
Lily Heaton, also running from the Fast Pack for Morpeth,
finished 27th in a total field of 47 finishers.
Unfortunately, Morpeth lacked a third counter.
Ryan Davies, younger brother of Under 15 Boy Dylan, unfortunately suffered
a sprained ankle in the Under 13 Boys 2.1-mile event.
Had Davies not been forced out of the contest,
Morpeth may well have finished higher than fifth.
Leading the squad home was Dylan Walker, who finished in eighth place from the Slow Pack.
Supporting Dylan in the team challenge were James Tilley (19th) (Slow Pack), and Bertie Marr (38th) (Fast Pack),
Other Morpeth Harriers performances in this event came from,
Callum Rowell (55th) (Fast Pack), Harry Jackson (58th) (Fast Pack),
and Joe Dixon (71st) (Slow Pack).
Morpeth Harriers Under 13 Girls finished as twelfth team in their 2.1mile one lap event.
They were led home by Laura Melling, who finished in 25th place from the Slow Pack.
Supporting performances came from Faye Archbold (49th) (Slow Pack),
and Sadie Charlton (78th) (Slow Pack).
In the Under 11 Boys single lap 0.9-mile non-scoring event,
Morpeth’s Sam Dent finished fourteenth.
Another good day at the office for the club, achieving three on the
day team victories, and seven on the day Harrier League medals.