Busy weekend of Great North Run action for Morpeth Harriers
Action got underway on Friday night with elite races over one mile and 5k broadcast live on the BBC and forming part of the UK Road Championships, with the prospect of selection for the GB team in the inaugural World Athletics Road Running Championships in Latvia next month the prize on offer for race winners.
First up was James Young in a one mile race over a course that started near the Guildhall, then went out over the Swing Bridge and along the South bank of the Tyne before crossing the Millenium Bridge to the finish.
Always up with the leaders, Young looked well placed throughout, but lost out in the closing stages of the race, Callum Elson of Cambridge and Coleridge winning in 4 minutes 8 seconds with Young unfortunately squeezed out into fourth place in the run-in.
In the 5k race that followed, Morpeth’s Scott Beattie and Rory Leonard lined up in the 5k race, with both athletes currently in fine form and clearly determined to give good accounts of themselves on home turf, Beattie having already won the Quayside 5k over much of the same territory the previous month.
With Leonard pushing the pace at the front on the second of the three laps, the small field field broke up, but it was Beattie who produced a hugely impressive late surge over the Millenium Bridge that showed a clean pair of heels to his rivals. He went on to win in a time of 13 minutes 56 seconds, some four seconds ahead of Stroud AC’s Tom Mortimer with Leonard taking third place in 14:03. The win sees Beattie secure his place on the plane to Riga for his first GB vest.
Interviewed later, both Beattie and Leonard spoke enthusiastically about the pleasure of competing in front of friends and family in such a picturesque setting, the near perfect conditions only enhancing the experience.
There was another fine Friday night performance in the mass participation Great North 5k race that followed, with Peter Smallcombe narrowly beaten into 2 nd place by a two second margin by Luke Davis of Western Tempo, who won in 15:24.
Super Saturday’s Junior and Mini Great North Run events, with thousands taking part, were spearheaded by another win by a in form Harrier in blue and white, Elliot Kelso winning in a time of 12 minutes 49 second for the 4k course, over ten seconds ahead of his nearest rival.
Also well placed were U/15 Daniel Scott, 23 rd in 15:31 and U/17 Kate Kennedy, 61st in 16:27.
The headlines on Sunday were always going to be taken by Sir Mo Farah in his last ever competitive outing, Farah finishing 4 th in a time of 1 hour 1 minute 54 seconds, with Ethiopian Tamirat Tola breaking the one hour mark to win in 59:58.
The women’s race was won by Kenyan Peres Jepchirchir in 1:06:45 with Charlotte Purdue first British runner back in 3 rd in a time of 1:09:36.
Conditions for the race were certainly the most challenging that runners could remember, however, with punishingly high temperatures affecting many’s hoped for times and expectations having to be adjusted accordingly.
Nevertheless, Morpeth’s Carl Avery had yet another top notch run to finish just outside the top ten in 14th place in a time of 1:07:17 with club colleague Lawrence McCourt only two places behind him in 1:07:36. Avery and McCourt were also the first runners home from the North East.
Not too far behind training companion Finn Brodie was 30th in 1:09:56, with Sam Hancox, 34th in 1:10:31, and Tom Prentice,47th in 1:13:05, both making the top fifty. Kirsty Burville was the club’s first female finisher with an excellent run of 1:33:29 for 1170th, with Anna Wright 1725 th (1:37:17) and Tayla Douglas 1918 th (1:38:25).
Sadly, as if the oppressive heat (simply ‘brutal’ as one runner described it) hadn’t been enough, the heavens later opened, with the journey back from South Shields affected by flash-flooding and many Metro stations closed, the return home as much of a challenge as the race itself had been.