At the annual English National Women’s 6 Stage Road Relays,
held at a sunny and very picturesque Sutton Park, in Sutton Coldfield,
on Saturday 8th April 2017, Morpeth Harriers despite a
weakened teams, still managed to finish in an excellent thirteenth place.
The Women’s 6 Stage, which involved two long legs covering just under 9k in distance,
and four short legs covering 5.14k, saw Catriona Macdonald, having her first
ever outing in a National 6 Stage contest on the long opening leg.
With extremely talented athletes around her, she was not phased
as she came home 25th out of 56 starting teams, posting a time of 33m38s,
which at the time was just under 2 minutes adrift of the early medal protagonists,
Swansea, Leeds City, and Southern Champions Winchester.
Second leg saw Olympian Laura Weightman enter the fray for Morpeth,
and she was really the catalyst for what was to become an excellent Morpeth performance,
as she climbed a mammoth fourteen places to eleventh, posting what was to become
the second fastest overall short leg time of 16m44s, which was slightly headed by
Bristol’s Kate Maltby’s 16m38s, on the same leg, which put them into second place,
between new leaders Leeds City, and third placed Winchester.
Whilst a keen battle ensued over the remaining four legs for the minor placings
between Bristol, Swansea, Winchester, and briefly Cambridge & Coleridge,
Leeds City remained in front throughout, to eventually take the champions title
by an excellent margin of nearly four minutes, as they posted a total time of 2hrs12mins44secs.
Second went to Swansea (2hrs16min21secs), and third place went to Winchester (2hrs16mins35secs).
Meanwhile Morpeth, courtesy of Josie Cram (19m52s), Lorna MacDonald (Long) (35m38s),
Sarah Graham (20m45s), and debutant Mhairi MacLennan (18m22s),
continued to maintain an excellent performance throughout,
to eventually reach their final placing, which to their ultimate credit,
also saw them finish as third from the North, behind winners Leeds,
and sixth placed Rotherham Harriers, who had gone into the contest as Northern Champions.
Considering they were missing the services of Emma Holt, who has still not recovered
from her unfortunate injury sustained when warming up at last month’s
Inter Counties Cross Country Championships, and Jane Hodgson and Gemma Floyd
who were both unable to travel, this performance was quite remarkable,
and a touch more than expected, so the outcome was most pleasing for the club.