Ross Floyd and Jane Hodgson of Morpeth Harriers began their 2018 competitive year in style by winning the respective Men’s and Women’s titles in the annual Morpeth New Year’s Day Road Race.
A total of 157 finishers took part in the event organised by Morpeth Harriers, which can certainly now be regarded as the ideal replacement for the now defunct Morpeth to Newcastle Road Race, which effectively ended its long historic life in 2004.
Despite early morning rain, conditions were relatively ideal for those enthusiasts taking part, as the runners set off from the bottom of Dogger Bank on Mitford Road, navigating the usual approximately 11k route, taking in Mitford, Mitford Steads, and heading back to Morpeth, via Whalton Road, Sun Inn, Carlisle Park, to the usual grassy finish line on the Stanners.
The early pace, saw four Morpeth Harriers, Floyd, San Hancox, Lewis Timmins, and Karl Taylor very much at the helm of things, along with Trafford’s Jeff Prest, North Shields Poly’s Graeme Cook, Keswick’s George Foster, and Tyne Bridge’s Sparrow Morley.
Eventually the four Morpeth Men broke clear, as Taylor forced the pace.
As the quartet headed down the Whalton Road, and the home run, Taylor began to wilt slightly, leaving Floyd, Hancox, and Timmins, battling for the top three places.
Timmins became detached as they swept past the Sun Inn, and it was very much a close and tense battle between Floyd, and club colleague Hancox, as the finish line beckoned on the Stanners.
Hancox, who was very much resurrecting his running career, following an injury ridden 2017, attempted to break Floyd, however, the Northumbria Healthcare GP was determined not to be beaten, and it was he who made it to the finish line first, to win by five seconds, posting a time of 34m50s.
Meanwhile Hancox finished second, with Timmins completing a Morpeth Harriers one-two-three, posting a time 35m12s.
First three for the promoting club, became first four, when early leader Karl Taylor came home in 35m31s.
The Morpeth sequence was halted, when Keswick AC runner George Foster finished fifth in 37m15s.
Jane Hodgson was actually the next Morpeth Harriers finisher home, which also saw her take the Women’s title for the second year running.
Hodgson had been close to the leaders in the early stages before Mitford, and had settled into a steady rhythm of pace just adrift of the top ten finishers, posting a time of 40m11s for 11th place overall.
Second place in the Women’s race went to Hodgson’s club colleague Catriona MacDonald, who finished 18th in 41m36s. Third Woman home was Alnwick’s Rachelle Falloon, who was 22nd overall in 42m08s.Fourth was Elswick Harrier Judith Nutt, who was 28th in 42m36s, and the top five Women were completed by Durham City’s Rachel Bentley, who finished 62nd in 48m17s.
Race Director Kevin Bray thanked all club members and friends, who turned out on the day to assist with course marshalling, and other much required duties.
* Posting a finishing time of 32m50s, Morpeth harrier Laura Weightman won the women’s race at at the annual Ribble Valley 10 at Clitheroe in Lancashire on Sunday (December 31).
Weightman was running the distance on the road for the first time and finished 31st place overall, beating second placed female Beth Potter of Shaftsbury by five places and 29 seconds.
Weightman will now turn her attention to warm weather training in Kenya ahead of the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia in April.