Morpeth Harrier Jane Hodgson beats the conditions, and the competition to win gold

Jane Hodgson on her way to the win. Picture: Peter Scaife.Jane Hodgson on her way to the win. Picture: Peter Scaife.
Jane Hodgson on her way to the win. Picture: Peter Scaife.
There were five Morpeth Harriers braving some very tough conditions at the Rising Sun Country Park, Wallsend, on Saturday at the North East Masters Athletics Association Cross Country Championships.

The runners managed to tame the conditions and brought back two individual gold medals and one silver medal between them.

The first of these medals came in the morning’s first race, which was over two laps and 3.5 miles where Over-40 Jane Hodgson once again showed what an almost unstoppable force she is over the country, defying the wind and the mud to come home in 22 minutes 48 seconds.

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She was 44 seconds ahead of her nearest rival, Alex Sneddon of Jarrow and Hebburn, who finished in 23:32, with Sunderland Harrier Ellie Reed, who finished in a time of 24:27, a distant third, both athletes also in the Over-35 category.

The day’s second race, this time run over three laps and 5.25 miles, was won by another Sunderland Harrier, Stephen Jackson, in a time of 29:24 with his club colleague Liam Taylor second, finishing in 29:38.

Morpeth’s Rob Balmbra, like Hodgson a runner finding the mud very much to his liking, placed third overall in a time of 30:49, but picked up the second Over-35 prize with Taylor coming first.

Ian Armstrong, who has gone from strength to strength since joining the club, was ninth overall, but the first Over-50 competitor in a time of 34:18, winning a gold medal. Club colleague Andrew Hebden was 19th and the sixth Over-40 runner in a time of 35:53.

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Meanwhile, coach Andrew Dippie continued his comeback. He finished in a time of 48:11 for 74th place and 11th in the 0ver-60 category.

The conditions forced the cancellation of the Northumberland Schools’ Athletic Association Inter Counties Cross Country races at the weekend after the course was left waterlogged.

The organisers have said the event will not be rescheduled and the county’s team for the English Schools Championships will be picked based on performance at the county championships and recent form in club competitions.

The championships will be held in Pontefract on Saturday, March 16.