The tentative return to competitive athletics continued once again in the North East when the Morpeth track at KEVI hosted the first of a series of graded meetings under strict UKA Covid-19 guidance on Sunday 23rd August 2020.
Despite events being limited to graded heats in the 100m and 800m events on the track with the Long Jump, Hammer and Shot Putt in the field, there were still smiles on faces at opportunities for competition finally beginning to open up. A breezy morning saw a mixture of veterans (Conrad Franks, Sparrow Morley, Greg Penn and Tommy Brannen) along with some teenage tyros, as well as athletes who had travelled from as far south as Leeds and as far north as the Scottish borders to take part.
There were some thirteen 100m heats in all, fastest time of the day coming from an athlete who’d travelled over a hundred miles to compete, Joe Ferguson of Leeds City winning in 10.65 seconds with Morpeth’s 400m specialist Matty Waterfield clocking 11s dead in third place behind Gateshead’s Scott Hall. David Storey was 3rd in his heat in 11. 62s but Over 40 Phil Pitt recorded a winning time of 11.88s and was 1st in his category. U/20 Jess Young-Rogers ran a personal best of 12.33s in heat 9 as did U/15 Ellie Wickens in heat 3 (13.73s). Meanwhile, in her 1st 100m for three years, Kirsty Lang clocked 13.93s.
One of the best 800m races featured Morpeth teenagers Bertie Marr and Ryan Davies, who have both trained assiduously under the guidance of coach Mike Bateman over the Summer months. The Morpeth pair took it out early and completed a fine one-two, with both clocking pbs, Bertie’s 2 minutes 12.67s – nearly a full six seconds off his previous best – and Ryan 2:16:11. Joe Dixon finished 2nd in his heat, also running a big new pb of 2:20:77 and, in his first race in a Morpeth vest, Joseph Close also ran a pb of 2:21:57.
Longest jump of the day was by Liam Reveley of Blaydon (6.40 metres) with Gateshead’s Lucy Turner recording 5.56m.
Furthest distance thrown in the Shot Putt was by U/20 James Wordsworth of NSP with an impressive 15.29m with Sophie Littlemore of Gateshead recording an equally strong 13.32m.
The women’s hammer also featured a quality competition, with U/17s Grace McDonald of Middlesbrough AC and Morpeth’s Jess Gardiner closely matched in the new hammer cage. On the day, McDonald had the edge with a best of 48.70 m ahead of Gardiner’s 45.45m. Longest throw of the day came courtesy of U/17 Border Harrier Damon King with 49.14m, while Morpeth U/15 Georgia Turner threw a pb of 28.39m, two metres further than her previous best.
The next meeting in the NECAA series will take place on Sunday 6th September, with a wider range of events. Information is on the NECAA website.
WANDA DIAMOND LEAGUE
Laura Weightman continued her fine run of form with a storming second place in the women’s 1500m at the Bauhaus-Galan Diamond League meeting in Stockholm on Sunday 23rd August 2020.
In a race where all eyes were on Scot Laura Muir in her first race over the distance this year, Weightman came through in typically gutsy fashion on the last lap ahead of such rivals as Kenyan Hellen Obiri (who had won the 5000m the previous weekend) and American Shannon Rowbury.
Muir recorded a world leading time of 3:57:86 with Weightman running her 4th fastest ever for the distance of 4;01:62. Fellow Brit Melissa Courtney-Bryant made it a 1-2-3 with a pb in third place.
DALTON PARK 10K
Road racing of a different, socially distanced nature, resumed at Dalton Park on Sunday 23rd August, with limited numbers of athletes (only 150) being set off in groups of six every five minutes – perhaps the shape of things to come for the foreseeable future.
First home on the day was Ross Floyd in a time around the 32 minute mark. He commended the organisation, but did note that he recorded the distance as only 9,800 metres…