Several Morpeth Harriers were in action at the annual UK Inter Counties Cross Country Championships, held a Prestwold Hall, near Loughborough, Leicestershire on Saturday 9th March 2019.
A heavy morning downpour left the ground in a heavier than anticipated, and strong crosswinds made conditions difficult to master on a day of vital competition for some, as the event not only included the final of the annual UK Cross Challenge, it also acted as a selection event for Senior and Under 20 athletes of both genders for the forthcoming World Cross Country Championships, due to be held in Aarhus, Denmark, on Saturday 30th March.
Two Morpeth Harriers who may see themselves on the start-line in Denmark following their respective performances, are Under 20 Man Rory Leonard, and Senior Woman Mhairi MacLennan.
Leonard is definitely the more certain of the two, after finishing a close second to Welsh Champion Matt Willis of North Wales in the Under 20 Men’s 8k event.
The English National Champion only lost out for a Gold Medal victory by a mere twelve seconds,
beating fellow North Easterner Josh Cowperthwaite of Middlesbrough AC,
the North East Champion in the process, who took the Bronze medal.
Leonard and Cowperthwaite led the North East to Silver team medals,
with Morpeth’s Kieran Hedley being the third counter in 23rd place.
Meanwhile, MacLennan ran superbly to finish third in the Senior Women’s 10k,
a distance that they were running for the first time in the competition.
Whilst MacLennan will feel pleased to take the Bronze medal, she must wait for the selectors verdicts as to whether she will be included in the Worlds, as only the first two Jenny Nesbitt (Worcestershire), and Jess Piasecki (formerly Coulson) (Greater Manchester), were being guaranteed selection.
Mhairi was competing for her native Scotland East, who were incomplete, only having three finishers.
Meanwhile, the North East finished as third team behind Yorkshire and Essex,
who took the respective Gold and Silver team medals.
Finishing 58th and 107th, Emma Holt and Catriona MacDonald were the regions fifth and sixth counters.
The North East’s English National winner at Harewood House two weeks ago, Sam Charlton of Wallsend Harriers, certainly repeated his form, as he added the Inter Counties title in the Under 17 Men’s 6k event, winning by a slender six seconds from Hamish Armitt of Scotland West, with Yorkshire’s Josh Dickinson securing the Bronze medal, two seconds further adrift.
By his own admittance, Charlton was far from being a winner, as he struggled in the final mile of the contest.
He led the North East to fourth team place, although they may well have finished third if their squad had included Morpeth’s Daniel Melling, who had an excellent run to finish 24th, and ahead of the rest of the regions team.
Melling was running independently as a Morpeth Harrier participating in the UK Cross Challenge.
Further down the field, and fractionally adrift of the scoring four, were fellow
Morpeth Harriers Ross Charlton (40th), and Daniel Dixon (46th).
India Pentland of Darlington Harriers was the regions other individual Gold Medallist on the day, winning the Under 17 Women’s 5k event, leading the North East home to fifth team place, with further team support including Morpeth’s Holly Peck, who performed superbly to finish 25th, and was second counter.
The regions Under 13 Boys finished as fifth team, with Morpeth’s Ryan Davies producing an excellent run to finish as third counter in 30th place.
Morpeth’s English National Bronze Medallist Carl Avery led the North East Senior Men
home to sixth team spot, when finishing in seventh place individually.
Also competing in the Senior Men’s 10k event was Morpeth’s Jordan Scott, who finished 158th in a 293 strong field.
Other Morpeth Harriers in action in the championships were Ben Walker,
who finished 269th in the 313 strong Under 15 Boys field, who ran a distance of 4k,
and Gracie Hufton, who finished 121st, in a 152 strong Under 20 Women’s 6k event.
The North East finished fifth and eighth respectively in these events, and the regions only team victory
on the day, came courtesy of the Under 15 Girls in their 4k event, the penultimate event of a long day.