Morpeth Harriers come home with 12 medals after a successful weekend competing in Middlesbrough

James Tilley in action at the Gordon Smith Relays.James Tilley in action at the Gordon Smith Relays.
James Tilley in action at the Gordon Smith Relays.
Morpeth Harriers athletes came home with medals after a successful weekend competing in Middlesbrough, writes Peter Scaife.

Eighteen members of the club were involved in competition over the two days of the North Eastern Athletics Association Track and Field Championships held at Middlesbrough Sports Village at the weekend, with the club registering a total of 12 medals in all, seven of them gold, four silver and just the one bronze.

Ellis Hetherington was a double gold medallist in the middle distance events, taking the 1500m on Saturday in three minutes 57.76 seconds and following it up with a win in the 800m the next day in 1:56.45s, both times personal bests.

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Behind Hetherington, training companion Finn Brodie got a silver medal in the 1500m.

Berwick-based Morpeth Harrier Joe Close was a winner in the Under-20s 1500m in 4:05.8, and veteran Morag Stead another in the senior women’s 5000m in 18:22.14. Freya Caygill took a bronze in the U20 women’s 200m in 26.40.

In the field events, Ed Gardiner threw a new personal best of 44.57 metres when winning the U20 men’s discus, an achievement matched by U17 Alexandria Hodgson, who won the hammer with a season’s best of 43.04m.

Specialist jumper Charlotte Earl had to settle for a silver in Saturday’s long jump with a best jump of 5.17m, but returned the next day to win gold in the triple jump with 11.21m.

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Away from the track, the club put out three women’s and five men’s teams at the annual Gordon Smith Relays at Cobalt Business Park, Wallsend, on the previous Wednesday evening.

A fiercely contested women’s race, with some 78 teams of three in total, was won by North Shields Polytechnic (NSP) Harriers in an overall time of 33 minutes 10 seconds, with ex-GB international Stacey Smith recording one of the evening’s standout performances for NSP with a clocking of 10 minutes 30 seconds for her two mile leg.

Morpeth’s A team of Poppy Buck, Kirsty Burville and Lizzie Rank finished seventh in 37:48, with the B team of Lorna Macdonald, Jane Kirby and Rachelle Falloon 14th in 38:45. Falloon’s 12 minutes was the club’s fastest time of the night.

There was an even larger field of 94 teams in the following men’s race, with Morpeth’s A team of Ian Harding, James Tilley and Sam Hancox having to settle for second place in 30:01 behind winners Sunderland Harriers, who finished in 29:01. It was nonetheless good to see veteran Ian Harding getting back to his best in 10:09, and Sam Hancox (10:00), a past winner here, returning to competition.

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U20 James Tilley had perhaps the club’s best run of the night however, recording one of the evening’s fastest times with a clocking of 9:52 to move the club up to second place on his leg.

Meanwhile, Catriona Macdonald finished sixth overall and was the first female finisher in Tuesday night’s Les Allcorn 10k in a time of 37 minutes 16 seconds, with Alnwick Harrier Liam McDonough winning in a time of 34:57.

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