Laura Weightman certainly proved beyond all doubt that she is currently in the best form of her running career, as she produced yet another lifetime best performance, in front of a fairly large crowd in Paris’ magnificent Stad De France arena on Saturday night.
She was also performing in front of a worldwide television audience, including those on the BBC Red Button, in the eighth in the series of Diamond League events.
The 23-year-old Morpeth Harrier ran a solid race in the quality-packed Women’s 1500m and finished eighth of 13 finishers, in a new personal best of 4m00.17s.
She knocked a whole two seconds off her previous best, set in a previous Diamond League meeting in Eugene, USA, in May.
It also gave her a new Morpeth Harriers club record for the distance, which she already held.
The only down side on the night was that she perhaps surprisingly finished just behind her current British rival Laura Muir, of Dundee, who also clocked a lifetime best of 4m00.7s, which now puts her at the top of the UK rankings in front of Weightman.
Both will do battle next in the forthcoming Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, when Muir will be competing for Scotland, with Weightman competing for England.
The event on Saturday in Paris was won by Netherlands’ Sifan Hassan in a time of 3m57.0s, which was a national record; such was the power of the front-running performance.
USA’s Jennifer Simpson was just adrift in second place in 3m57.22s.
A determined and very hard-working team performance saw Morpeth Harriers’ Young Athletes Track and Field squad pull of a narrow victory in their third round North East Youth Development League Division One match, held at Jarrow’s Monkton Stadium on Sunday, June 29.
Their victory, by a mere 15 points, was achieved by the willingness of all athletes across the two genders and three age groups to fill gaps where possible, mainly caused by missing athletes, who having made earlier promises to turn out, failed to appear on the day, which in turn resulted in some athletes taking on extra duties in unfamiliar events and also resulted in some administrational nightmares for already overworked team managers Paddy Paulsen (Male) and Ken McDonald (Female).
However, the end result was a wonderful reward for all those who participated, as, in addition to the team success, no fewer than five new league records came the way of the club’s athletes, plus a number of new personal-best performances, which added some extra gilt to a very trying day.
Particularly outstanding were the club’s U15 Boys, who managed to pull off nine A-String and seven B-String victories, plus, at the end, an added bonus of a 4x100m relay success in 50.2s to round off an excellent day’s work for the age group.
English Schools-bound sprinter Sean O’Hara had a particularly good day, winning the 100m and 200m with respective clockings of 11.9s and 23.9s, the latter establishing a new league record.
Morpeth Harriers secured a double victory in both of these events, with Jake Jardine taking the B-races in 12.0s and 24.8s respectively.
Another English Schools-bound athlete, who also tasted victory for Morpeth Harriers in the U15 Boys’ events, was Kieran Hedley, who literally ran away from the rest in the 800m and won in 2m08.4s, for him a massive new personal best and also a new league record.
The 800m also saw a double victory for Morpeth, with Joe Dowd securing his win in the B-race in 2m19.4s.
Will Kelly and Declan Stoker pulled off a superb double victory in the 300m, with clockings of 40.6s and 41.5s.
In the U15 Boys’ 1500m Adam Shewry finished second in the A-race in 4m52.3s and Alex Cunningham set new figures of 4m55.2s when taking the B-race.
Cunningham was setting a second new pb in two days for the distance, having also done so at the Minor Schools Championships at Gateshead on Saturday.
There were also some excellent results achieved by the Morpeth Harriers U15 Field Event specialists, quite notably new boy Gregor Sharp, who crowned his debut by winning the discus (28.54m) and shot (10.28m).
He was well backed up in the B-string events, with Mitch Green making up for the lack of a pole vault event, because of defective equipment, and winning the discus with his best throw of 20.76m, and Adam Shewry, who achieved a best of 6.04m, to take second in the shot.
Will Kelly superbly added to his track win by taking victory in the A-string high jump with his clearance of 1.40m, well backed up by Joe Dowd’s similar B-string effort, which created yet another Morpeth double win.
Clearly enjoying his day, Kelly threw 13.84m for third in the javelin.
Another Morpeth newcomer David Thomas produced a best of 5.00m to win the U15 Boys’ long jump.
The U17 Men’s events saw Morpeth Harrier Ryan Green record new figures of 52.4s to win the 400m, which also secured another new league record into the bargain.
He was also well backed up in the 400m, as Euan Jones won the B-race in 59.6s.
Green, who has also been selected for the English schools, celebrated by also winning the 800m (2m05.4s) and the high jump (1.63m).
Jamie Warburton secured a double victory for his club in the high jump with his clearance of 1.55m.
Warburton also finished second in the A-string long jump with a best of 5.47m, being well backed up by Euan Jones’ 4.75m, which saw him claim his second B-string success of the day.
Elliot Moore secured three excellent respective field event wins for Morpeth in the discus (26.02m), hammer (22.17m) and shot (9.92m).
Morpeth Harriers best U13 Boys’ performance in terms of points came in the 800m, where Thomas Cunningham finished second in the A-string in 2m38.9s and Jake Lloyd finished second in the B-string with 2m49.1s.
There were some good results for Morpeth Harriers in the Female events.
The club had two league record breakers in the U15 Girls’ section.
Bobbie Griffiths won the javelin with her best throw of 26.50m, with Jessica Young-Rogers finishing second in the B-string with a best of 11.87m.
In the U15 Girls’ shot, Rebecca Murray broke the league record with her best of 10.26m and Georgia Priest weighed in with an excellent 8.04m to take the B-string.
Sprinter Naomi Arkle finished second in the A-races of the 100m and 200m with respective times of 13.3s and 28.1s.
Harriet Priest did well to finish second in the U15 Girls’ 300m in 47.5s.
A superb Morpeth Harriers result in the U15 Girls’ high jump saw Jessica Young-Rogers take the A-string with her clearance of 1.35m and 1.30m was good enough to see Harriet Priest take the B-event.
Naomi Arkle produced an excellent 17.27m to finish second in the A-string discus and Bobbie Griffiths secured second in the B-string with a best of 14.81m.
In the U17 Women’s events, Morpeth’s Megan Deakin was certainly an athlete in top form, as she took victory in the 100m (13.2s) and 300m (43.9s).
She was well backed up in the 100m by Lily Hood, who secured victory in the B-race in 13.5s.
Hood had her very own moment of glory, when she won the A-string 200m in 28.3s.
Abby Sheldon won the U17 Women’s 1500m in 5m20.0s and Lauren Eadington’s 2m34.9s in the 800m saw her finish second.
Louise Brett produced two A-string field event victories for Morpeth. She won the long jump with a best of 3.75m and the triple jump with 9.03m.
These events also saw Morpeth Harriers clinch two B-string successes, courtesy of Lily Hood (long jump, 3.62m) and Lauren Eadington (triple, 7.56m).
Abby Sheldon finished second in the javelin with a best of 19.07m.
A good day for Morpeth Harriers in the U17 Women’s events was rewarded by a 4x100m relay victory in 54.9s.
Morpeth Harriers small band of U13 Girl athletes, four in all, did their level best to gain some share of the club’s points tally.
Nadine Arkle produced two excellent runs to finish second in both the 100m (14.3s) and 200m (29.7s).
In the B-string 100m, she was backed up by Lily Euddel, who pulled off her club’s only victory of the day in her age group, when clocking an excellent 14.0s, which would in effect have given the club an A-string win.
Backing up Arkle in the 200m was Holly Peck, who clocked 32.7s for fourth B-string.
Morpeth Harriers now go into their final North East Youth Development match at Middlesbrough in two weeks’ time, still with a fighting chance of retaining the league title that they won so well at the same venue in 2014.
In order to do so, however, they do need more support in effort from the Female section of the club, which only mustered a total of 19 athletes on Sunday, with the Male side producing 32.
This is not solely down to the respective team managers, as they are constantly doing their level best to put their strongest respective squads together.
All of the Morpeth Harriers Club coaches do need to be fully aware of these shortfalls and must do their level best to support the club fully in its efforts, where possible, by encouraging their athletes to compete in the important events.
Result (subject to further scrutiny): 1 Morpeth Harriers 730pts; 2 Blaydon Harriers 715; 3 Tynedale Harriers 654; 4 New Marske 504; 5 Durham City 477; 6 Houghton Harriers 453.
A truly great run by Thomas Straughan saw the Morpeth Harrier clinch his very first individual road race victory in the Tynedale 10k, held at Ovingham, Northumberland, last Wednesday evening (July 2).
Straughan won by a margin of 10 seconds after a very close battle with Tyne Bridge Harrier Shaun Brown, in an excellent time of 33m48s on a very tricky, undulating, rural course.
Another Morpeth Harrier in excellent form on the night was Sam Hancox, who produced a superb pb of 34m16s to finish in third place.
Hancox also ran around 90s faster than his 2013 time, when he had finished 23rd. However, on this occasion, he heaped praise on his club colleague Straughan for carving out his own superb victory.
In addition to Straughan and Hancox, another 15 Morpeth Harriers competed in the approximately 450-strong field, with five of them achieving new pb performances for the 10k distance.
It was good to see Phil Walker getting back to better form after a troublesome period of niggling injuries.
He finished in 13th place overall in 35m41s and was second in the Over 45 Veteran Men’s category.
Matthew Boyle clocked a new pb of 35m55s when finishing 15th overall and was eighth Senior Man on the course.
It was certainly an excellent night for the Hancox family, when father Rob came home in 30th place, in a new pb time of 36m36s, and he was sixth Over 45 Veteran Man.
Other Morpeth Harriers finishers were as follows: Tony Lewis (45th, 28th Senior) 37m40s (PB), Geoff Whitman (52nd, 10th O/45 Man) 38m05s (PB), Gavin Bayne (60th, first O/55 Man) 38m28s, Mark Snowball (61st, 38th Sen Man) 38m33s, Steve Haswell (78th, 14th O/45 Man) 39m39s, Paul Banks (94th, ninth O/40 Man) 40m28s, Jane Briggs (124th, first O/45 Lady) 41m51s (PB), James McFetrich (156th, 26th O/40 Man) 43m32s, Mark Crosby (177th, 10thO/50 Man) 44m16s, Richard Sill (180th, seventh O/55 Man) 44m28s, Lesley Chapman (208th, first O/55 Lady) 45m45s and Jane Blackett (394th, eighth O/50 Lady) 57m41s.
The third in the series of BMC North East Regional track events took place at Maiden Castle, near Durham on Monday, June 30, and no less than 80 runners took part in a total of 15 seeded 800m races.
Eight athletes from Morpeth Harriers were among those taking part and five new pbs and two season’s best performances were achieved.
Season’s best performances of 1m53.0s, 1m55.1s and 1m57.9s were clocked by Richard Morrell, Nick Swinburn, and Lewis Timmins.
Morrell, who had run well over 1500m at the British Championships on the previous Saturday without making a final, could be well pleased with his effort that saw him second fastest in the A-race, only bettered by Sunderland Harriers’ U20 athlete Michael Wilson’s 1m52.6s.
Swinburn’s effort saw him fastest in the B-race and Timmins finished two places behind him in third spot.
Morpeth U20 athlete Phillip Winkler crept just that little closer to getting under the two-minute mark for 800m, when setting superb new figures of 2m00.2s in the E-race, that saw him finish third.
Two Morpeth Harriers took part in the G-race. U20 athlete Sam Hancox clocked new figures of 2m06.6s, to finish second, two places ahead of U15 club-mate Kieran Hedley, who also set a new pb of 2m08.0s, very similar to the figures he achieved at the previous day’s North East Youth Development League meeting, when he won.
Hedley is very much on top form at the moment, with the English Schools Championships on the horizon as his major target.
Veteran athlete Rob Hancox, father of Sam, set new figures of 2m20.5s in the Mixed gender M-race, where he finished second. He was also the fourth fastest of five competing Veteran Men on the night.
Hannah Rank of Morpeth Harriers won an all-female N-race in a new pb time of 2m27.6s. She was second fastest U23 Woman and 12th Woman overall on the night.
Morpeth Harriers are pleased to announce that their Benfield Motor Group Athlete of the Month award for May 2014, has gone to U15 Boy thrower Ruaridh Lang.
Lang was one of the club’s five gold medallists at the North Eastern Counties Track and Field Championships, held at Gateshead’s International Stadium on May 17 and 18.
In the discus, he threw an excellent lifetime pb of 28.86m, which secured him his title by approximately 1.81cm from his closest rival (approximately 6ft in old money).
Six Morpeth Harriers have been chosen to represent Northumberland at the annual English Schools Track and Field Championships, which are being held at Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium on Friday, July 11, and Saturday, July 12.
Declan Stoker, Sean O’Hara and Kieran Hedley all compete in Junior Boys’ events.
Nathan Cox and Ryan Green are representing in the Intermediate Boys’ events.
New club signing Rebecca Murray competes in the Junior Girls’ section.
Morpeth Harriers wish all of these athletes the best of luck.
This Sunday (July 13), Morpeth Harriers host their third round Northern League Division Three match at the KEVI track.
Field action gets under way at 11.30am, with track events starting at 1pm.
Currently, Morpeth Harriers are out in front in the league with 11 points.
Heaton Harriers/Tyne Bridge Harriers, North Shields Poly, Wallsend Harriers/Blyth RC and Houghton Harriers are all on seven points, while Chester-le-Street are at the foot of the table and seemingly doomed to relegation with three points only.
Another victory on home soil would surely see Morpeth promoted as league champions, with still one further match remaining in August.