Morpeth Harriers 13th in English 12-stage relay

Many of the country’s leading runners were assembled at Sutton Coldfield near Birmingham on Saturday for the English Road Running Association 12-stage Relays, with Morpeth Harriers the sole representatives from the North East of England.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 12th April 2022, 11:26 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th April 2022, 11:26 am
Finn Brodie in action at Sutton Park on Saturday.
Finn Brodie in action at Sutton Park on Saturday.

With six long legs of around 5.4 miles and six shorter ones of 3.2, the competition unfurls over a long four hour plus time frame, with the lead often changing hands several times in the course of an afternoon.

Saturday’s race was, perhaps unsurprisingly, dominated by clubs from the South of England, with Tonbridge AC winning out in an overall time of 4 hours 13 minutes and 11 seconds over nearest rivals, Highgate AC (4:13:24).

It must have been a bittersweet silver medal for the north London outfit, however, who had led for much of the race and, going into the last leg, were actually nearly one minute ahead of the Kent club having been in front since leg five. Bedford and County AC were third in 4:14:25.

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Similar misfortunes befell Leeds City AC, who had been expected to be in the thick of the action, with their first leg runner suffering a debilitating asthma attack on the start line and trailing in way down the field in 49th. Thereafter, the Yorkshire club did well to recover for fifth place.

Morpeth were themselves hit by an unfortunate late injury on Friday night to George Lowry, who might have been expected to run one of the fastest legs for the club, with a willing Graeme Cook drafted in at very short notice for his first ever 12 stage.

Sam Hancox got the club off to a decent start on the first long leg, with a time of 26:43 for 15th place, with teenager Joe Anderson clocking 16:50 on the next, short leg for 24th.

With long and short legs alternating thereafter, Finn Brodie ran Morpeth’s fastest long leg, 26:12, on leg three as the club moved into 14th, with Ali Douglas recording 16:25 for 15th on leg four.

Carl Avery, himself nursing an injury, got the club into 11th and in sight of a top ten finish on leg five (26:43) with Tom Innes only slipping two places on leg six (16:30). Alex Brown’s 26:30 moved the club into the top ten as the race moved into its second half and Phil Winkler’s 15:53 got Morpeth up to eighth after eight legs, its highest position on the afternoon.

Despite being hit by a troublesome side strain during much of his run, George Rudman managed to maintain the position with 28:26 on the ninth leg, with Connor Marshall’s short leg of 16:16 and Matthew Briggs’s long leg of 28:10 keeping the club in ninth on legs 10 and 11.

With Cook recording 18:04 on leg 12, the club unfortunately slipped out of the top ten, finishing in 13th place overall out of some 53 complete teams, with a final combined time of 4:22:42.

Once again, Morpeth were well placed, however, among Northern teams, with only big city outfits Leeds, Salford Harriers and Sheffield’s Hallamshire in front.

The day’s two fastest long and short leg times came courtesy of Belgrave Harrier Nick Goolab and Cambridge and Coleridge’s Tom Keen, who recorded times of 25:23 and 15:10 for the long and short legs respectively.