The sudden cancellation of major sporting fixtures across the country failed to stop the latest round of the North East Harrier League, held for the first time in the grounds of the Lambton Estate in Washington,
although the fixture itself had been rescheduled following the heavy rains of the Winter period.
While overall numbers were down – many of the better Juniors competing, of course, in Liverpool – most athletes enjoyed the chance to test out a new course on what may prove to be a regular venue,
and there was one individual 1st place, two 2nds and two team wins for the club.
The individual win came courtesy of Ollie Calvert in the Under 13 Boys, who ran the 2nd fastest time of the day from Slow Pack. Ollie was supported by Oliver Tomlinson, 8th from Fast Pack, who also ran the day’s fastest actual time. With Conner Philips 14th, Zack Cousins 22nd and Sam Livingstone 28th, the team had a resounding victory ahead of rivals Birtley AC and are now placed second in the team Grand Prix behind North Shields Polytechnic Harriers with the final fixture still to come – if it takes place, of course.
The second team victory came courtesy of the U/15 Boys who were led home by a flying Bertie Marr, 2nd on the day from Fast Pack but recording the fastest time by some distance. After injury sustained in the Sherman Cup back in January, it is good to see Bertie getting back to his competitive best. With Sam Tate in 4th, Liam Roche in 9th, Matthew Walton 11th, Adam Howliston 22nd and James Tilley 24th, the team victory was even more pronounced and kept the U/15s at the top of the table in a position they should now hold on to.
New recruit Caitlin Flanagan made an impression in her first outing in a Morpeth vest in the U/15, coming home in in 2nd place. She was supported by Olivia Carruthers in 16th from Fast Pack, although sadly the team missed a third counter and are now placed overall in 9th.
First event of the day the U/11 races also saw some good performances, with Rob Walton 3rd, Dan Scott 25th
and Harry Hague, another athlete competing in the blue and white for the first time, 32nd in the Boys. Emma Tomlinson was 11th and Iris Dungait 17 th in the matching Girls race.
Smallest fields of the day came in the U/17 Boys and U/17 Girls/U/20 Women’s, with barely double figures and no complete teams from any club. Euan Duffin ran the U/17’s fastest time from Fast Pack, coming home 6th in the Boys race with Sophie Coaker 6th from Medium and Kate Gaffing 10th from Slow in the Girls. The U/17 Boys Grand Prix looks headed for an exciting finish at Druridge Bay, with Morpeth only one point behind Houghton Harriers.
Penultimate race of the day and the second largest field came in the Senior Women. Jane Hodgson once again led by example, coming home 4th from Fast Pack and recording the day’s second fastest time. Sarah Lawson was next counter, 67th from Medium, but with Lindsey Quinn being promoted to Fast Pack at Alnwick and so finishing in 102nd here, and Claire Calverley on her way back from injury finishing 132nd, the team finished down in 8th place. Sarah Routledge also ran in 160th.
The team dropped five points behind Tyne Bridge Harriers in the Grand Prix,
with the Newcastle outfit now looking out of sight.
A good turn out at Druridge should still bring a decent silver medal.
Final race of the day, the Senior Men’s, was won individually by Liam Taylor of Sunderland Harriers
out of Slow Pack, with Luke Pickering of Houghton recording the day’s fastest time out of Fast Pack in 2nd.
Tom Innes showed the month off from training hasn’t had too much of an effect on his fitness as he came home as 1st counter for Morpeth in 9th place out of Medium Pack. He was supported by Ricky Stafford, who continues to make great strides over the country, 37th out of Slow Pack with the reliable Gary Jones 80th from Fast.
Eric Adams, enjoying his second Harrier League outing of the season, was 93rd from Slow with Shaun Land 5th counter in 109th from Slow. The team’s final count was veteran Paul Brown, 175th, with further supporting runs by Gary Hall, 196th, Bill Tilley, 222nd, and Andrew Dippie, 244th, all from Slow.
Special mention also for Chris Waugh, who trotted round two laps as
back up having been concerned about low numbers and bringing his vest.
The team finished in 5th place overall and stayed 5th in the Grand Prix,
although the gap to 3rd is a not insurmountable three points.
While the application showed by all those who ran was commendable,
as Paul Brown himself remarked afterwards the team count should not be
being made up by a runner in his mid fifties, and the story of the season
as a whole for the men remains one of missed opportunities and
a disappointing lack of commitment by some athletes.