In total contrast to the previous weeks icy and snowy conditions, athletes competing in Saturday’s fifth and penultimate Start Fitness North Eastern Harrier League fixture, held at Thornley Hall Farm, near Peterlee in County Durham, faced very little more than a strong prevailing wind to affect their days performance.
Even the severely undulating farmland proved remarkably firm and dry in places, which in previous encounters on the course, have presented tough, muddy and extremely heavy conditions, which many runners found difficult to master, however on Saturday, those who took part were quite pleased with their 2019 experience.
Running from the Fast Pack, Morpeth’s Emma Holt posted the fastest time of the day in the two lap Senior Women’s event, which firmly puts her in poll position in the Harrier League Grand Prix rankings.
She finished in fifth place, just a mere six seconds ahead of second fastest
Danielle Smythe of Heaton Harriers, who was one place behind.
Emma led her club home to a close third place behind Elvet Striders and Gateshead Harriers in Division 1
on the day, with further excellent team support coming from Catriona MacDonald (8th) (Fast Pack) (3rd Fastest), Lucy Fenwick (16th) (Slow Pack), and Jane Briggs (62nd) (Medium Pack).
With one fixture remaining, this result leaves the Morpeth Senior Women in second place cumulatively, six points adrift of leaders Gateshead Harriers in Division 1, and a mere point ahead of third placed Heaton Harriers.
Other Morpeth performances in the Senior Women’s event, which had a total of 296 finishers,
came from Alison Brown (88th) (Fast Pack), Sue Smith (90th) (Slow Pack),
Jill Bennett (119th) (Medium Pack), Jane Kirby (151st) (Slow Pack),
Claire Calverley (204th) (Medium Pack), and Margaret MacDonald (262nd) (Slow Pack).
At the annual Northern Athletics Cross Country Championships, held at a breezy but relatively
firm and dry Pontefract Park Racecourse, in Yorkshire on Saturday 26th January 2018,
Senior Woman Mhairi MacLennan retained her title that she won in 2018 at nearby
Harewood House but was made to fight all the way to the finish line by Leigh Harrier Lauren
Heyes (formerly Howarth), and Blackburn’s Jessica Judd, only winning by the slender margin of four seconds.
MacLennan also led her club to a handsome set of Bronze team medals, courtesy of supporting counting runs by Emma Holt (24th), Catriona MacDonald (39th), and Gemma Floyd (61st).
Another top-drawer performance amongst the Morpeth Senior Women,
came from Helen King, who produced an excellent run to finish in 110th place.
The annual North Eastern Counties Cross Country Championships were held at
a very windy Cardinal Hume School, in Wrekenton, Gateshead on Saturday 8th December 2018.
In the Senior Women’s three lap 8k event, Morpeth’s Emma Holt clearly showed that she is back somewhere close to her best form, finishing second to Jarrow and Hebburn’s Georgia Campbell,
only losing out for Gold by a margin of thirty-six seconds.
Holt also led her club to team Silver behind Jarrow and Hebburn,
losing out for Gold by fourteen points, with Gosforth Harriers third, eight points adrift.
Assisting Holt in the Morpeth team count were Gemma Floyd (7th),
Rachelle Falloon (9th), and Vicky Gibbs (58th).
Other Morpeth performances in the field of 231 finishers were
Claire Calverley (77th), and Lesley Chapman (152nd).
Athletes from Morpeth Harriers were certainly in top form at the fourth Start Fitness sponsored
North Eastern Harrier League fixture, held at Aykley Heads, near Durham City on Saturday 17th November 2018.
An excellent turnout of eleven athletes, who all finished in the top half of the 416 finishers in the two full lap Senior Women’s event, saw Morpeth Harriers womens squad finish as on the day winners in Division 1
by two league points ahead of second placed Heaton Harriers.
As a result of this, cumulatively they now rise one place to fifth at the
exclusion of Sunderland Harriers, who could only finish sixth on the day.
Morpeth Harriers were led home by Emma Holt, who finished an excellent sixth from the Fast Pack,
and was well clear as second fastest overall behind Wallsend’s Danielle Hodgkinson,
who finished second behind Gateshead Harrier Brigid Dennehy by a fifty-six seconds margin.
Second home for Morpeth in eighth place was Catriona MacDonald,
who was also running from the Fast Pack, and was third fastest in the field.
Next home for the club was Veteran Woman Gemma Floyd,
who worked her way through from the Fast Pack, to finish 30th overall.
Completing the Morpeth Harriers scoring four was Rachelle Falloon,
currently leading the Senior Women’s Grand Prix,
who finished in 42nd place overall, again from the Fast Pack.
Other Morpeth Harriers Senior Women’s finishers were,
Lorna MacDonald (70th) (Fast Pack), Claire Calverley (110th) (Medium Pack),
Sue Smith (153rd) (Slow Pack), Jill Bennett (175th) (Medium Pack),
Jane Kirby (185th) (Slow Pack), Lesley Chapman (205th) (Slow Pack).
Morpeth Harriers Senior Women may well struggle to retain their
Harrier League Division One title this year, however on this showing,
they are not failing without a fight.
For the first time in a good number of years Cross Country racing returned to Gosforth Park
on Saturday 27th October 2018, when local club Gosforth Harriers hosted the third
Start Fitness sponsored North Eastern Harrier League, on land to the North West of the extensive estate,
which encompasses the famous Northern Racecourse, where feature races such as the Northumberland Plate,
and Eider Chase take place, along with the Fighting Fifth Hurdle.
On Saturday it was definitely the turn of the thoroughbreds, as runners tested out a brand-new course.
The Senior Women’s field had a total of 460 finishers in their two large lap event, which included
an excellent ten from Morpeth Harriers, whose combined performances saw them finish sixth
in Division 1 on the day.
They were led home by Emma Holt, who on her second outing in the league this season,
finished 15th from the Fast Pack, posting the second fastest time overall, only surpassed
by Wallsend Harrier Danielle Hogkinson, who won her second Harrier League in succession from the Medium Pack, having won previously at Druridge from the Slows.
Holt was joined in the Morpeth team count by Victoria Gibbs (37th) (Medium Pack),
Rachelle Falloon (40th) (Fast Pack), who posted the sixth fastest time of the day,
and Jilly Bell (122nd) (Slow Pack).
Other Morpeth Senior Women’s performances came from Lorna MacDonald (141st) (Fast Pack),
Sue Smith (158th) (Slow Pack), Alison Brown (197th) (Fast Pack), Jane Briggs (218th) (Medium Pack),
Jill Bennett (228th) (Medium Pack), and Frances Naylor (305th).
Photos courtesy of Stuart Whitman