After nearly a two month absence of action, the Start Fitness North Eastern
Harrier League got under way again on Saturday 5th March,
with the fifth fixture being held at the Pastures in Alnwick.
The fourth fixture which had been scheduled to be held at
Newcastle’s Town Moor in January, had to be postponed
because of a waterlogged course, and when the rescheduled date in early February
also could not be met, again because of the waterlogged state of two courses,
once again at Newcastle Town Moor, and at Wrekenton,
it had been decided by the organisers that it be totally cancelled.
Despite heavy overnight rain, the ground at Alnwick in most parts was reportedly fairly firm,
however there were the odd sections that remained soft, which progressed to mud
as intermittent showers prevailed throughout the proceedings,
especially during the final event on the ten race programme, for Senior Men.
With the fixture clashing with the English Schools Cross Country Championships in Nottingham,
several leading contenders were missing from the line-ups in the younger age groups, including athletes from Morpeth Harriers.
That factor however had no bearing on the performance of the club’s Under 13 Boys,
who undoubtedly had their best team result on the day, winning by a margin
of eleven points from Gosforth Harriers, with Durham City a further five points adrift in third place.
Leading Morpeth Harriers home was Thomas Cunningham, who finished eighth
from the Fast Pack, having an excellent run to also finish as third fastest on the day.
One place behind Thomas was club colleague Alex Porteous, who finished well as sixth from the Slow Pack.
The Morpeth Harriers scoring count was completed by Andrew Hudspith,
who finished an excellent eleventh from the Fast Pack, and posted the fifth overall fastest time.
Also prominent finishers for Morpeth Harriers in the Under 13 Boys event were
Jack Barrett (15th) (Slow Pack), and Dylan Davies (18th) (Fast Pack), and posting the eighth equal fastest time.
Other Morpeth Harriers performances in the Under 13 Boys event came from Bobby Stone (29th) (Fast Pack),
Aaron Haldane (38th) (Slow Pack), Joshua Adams (40th) (Slow Pack),
Reece Garrett (51st) (Slow Pack), and Adam Willoughby (54th) (Slow Pack).
Home from University, and having his first run as a Senior Man,
Morpeth’s Under 20 athlete Phillip Winkler produced an excellent run
in what were the worst conditions of the day, from the Slow Pack,
to finish second, behind Saltwell’s new acquisition,
asylum seeker Abraham Tewelde, who won by the clear margin
of two and a half minutes, over the tough three lap course.
Winkler led Morpeth Harriers Senior Men’s squad home to fifth team position in Division 1,
with further team support coming from Jordan Scott,
who finished a superb seventh from the Medium Pack,
posting the tenth overall fastest time on the day.
Third home for Morpeth Harriers was Mike Winter,
who ran strongly throughout, to finish 69th from the Slow Pack.
Paul Waterston was Morpeth’s fourth man home, when finishing 87th from the Medium Pack.
Completing the Morpeth team count were Mark Snowball (115th) (Fast Pack),
and Michael Thomsen (118th) (Medium Pack), running very much against doctors orders following illness.
Other Morpeth Harriers Senior Men in action were Robert Cockburn, running in his first race for the club,
who finished 201st from the Slow Pack, Richard Kirby (223rd) (Slow Pack), and Les Cavill (255th) (Slow Pack).
An excellent turnout by Morpeth Harriers Senior Women saw them finish fourth in Division 2 on the day,
a result that will hopefully see them avoid the drop into Division 3 for next year.
They were led home by an excellent performer in Gemma Floyd,
who ran really well over the two lap course as the rain started to build up.
She finished fifth from the Medium Pack, posting the fifteenth fastest overall time of the day.
One of the athletes ahead of her in terms of time however was club colleague Jane Hodgson,
who running from the Fast Pack, finished an excellent 25th as Morpeth’s second counter, posting
the sixth fastest time overall, and looks to be well on her way to fitness following childbirth.
Third home for Morpeth was Gwenda Cavill, who finished 69th from the Slow Pack,
and closing the club’s scoring count was Jane Briggs, who finished 144th from the Medium Pack.
Not far behind Jane in 161st and 162nd places were Sue Smith and Carol Parry, both running from the Slow Pack.
For Parry, it was her first Harrier League appearance for the club.
Other Harrier League debutants for Morpeth Harriers were Jacinta Wake and Jane Kirby,
who finished in 188th and 189th places from the Slow Pack,
in the field of 278 Senior Women finishers, which was an excellent effort.
Back to the Male events, and Morpeth Harriers Under 15 Boys finished fourth in their team race,
despite missing some of their key athletes because of the English Schools Championships taking place in Nottingham,
and that placing still stands them in good stead for taking the league title, with one fixture remaining at Wrekenton in two weeks time.
The Morpeth squad were led home by Joe Dowd, who produced an excellent
fifth fastest performance, to finish 14th from the Fast Pack.
Not far behind Joe was his Morpeth club colleague Matthew Waterfield,
who finished 22nd from the Fast Pack, and was eighth fastest overall over the one lap course.
Two places behind Matthew was club colleague Connor Marshall, who closed his club’s scoring count,
and running from the Fast Pack, was ninth fastest overall.
Other Morpeth Harriers performers in the Under 15 Boys event were Alex Cunningham (27th) (Fast Pack),
Bradley Brown (29th) (Fast Pack), and Jordan Hedgecock (35th) (Fast Pack).
Morpeth Harriers were well shorn of competing athletes in the Under 13 Girls event,
due to the aforementioned English Schools Championships,
and only Lauren Cummings toed the start-line.
She ran well to finish 15th from the Fast Pack.
The club only had two Under 17 Men to face the starter, and Jacob Hopkins and Josh Burton
finished third and fifth respectively from the Fast Pack.
Alison Brown posted the fastest time in the combined Under17/Under 20 Women’s event,
to finish fifth overall in a finishing field of twenty runners.
Following on from her excellent run in the English National Cross Country Championships seven days earlier,
Morpeth’s Gracie Hufton kept up the good form when finishing tenth from the Fast Pack in the Under 15 Girls event,
posting the sixth fastest time, in a field of thirty eight finishers.
Morpeth Harriers had eight athletes competing in the non scoring Under 11 events.
They had five in the Boys race, and three in the Girls race.
Jack Livingstone was the club’s first Boy home, when he placed fourth,
and he was closely followed in by Callum Rowell, who finished fifth.
Another excellent performer was James Tilley, who finished in nineteenth place.
Other Morpeth Harriers Boy finishers were Harry Jackson (23rd), and Joe Dixon (59th).
In the Girls event, Mia Belton performed well in her first Morpeth Harriers competitive outing, finishing 14th.
Other Morpeth Harriers finishers in the Girls event were Sophia Cunningham (31st), and Lauren Garrett (40th).
Many thanks go to Steve Garrett, who stepped in as club Team Manager on the day.