Morpeth Harriers forced to cancel new year race

Morpeth Harriers regret to announce that the club’s annual New Year’s Day Road Race will not take place in January 2020.

Tuesday, 3rd December 2019, 8:01 am
Updated Wednesday, 11th December 2019, 12:34 pm
The event is one of the most popular on the Morpeth Harriers' calendar.
The event is one of the most popular on the Morpeth Harriers' calendar.

The club has been forced to make this decision after receiving advice from Northumberland County Council that the race should not take place on open roads.

Morpeth Harriers has successfully and safely hosted the race, which mainly takes place on quiet rural roads around Mitford to the west of the town centre, every year since 2003.

Northumberland County Council has always previously supported the race taking place on open roads, with the club providing marshals and first aid support across the 11km route.

However, for reasons not entirely clear to the club, the council has advised that it will not support the race taking place on this basis in January 2020.

Unfortunately the costs associated with closing roads for a community event such as this are prohibitive.

Therefore Morpeth Harriers feels that it has been left with no choice but to cancel the event scheduled for 1 January 2020.

The club plans to hold further talks with the council with the hope of ensuring that the annual Morpeth 10k road race, which takes place every August, can go ahead as planned.

Morpeth Harriers chairman David Swinburne said: “The club deeply regrets this decision which we know will come as a huge disappointment to the many regular participants in this event.

“We are puzzled by the council’s decision and concerned about the implications both for other Morpeth Harriers races and, indeed, similar running events hosted by other clubs and organisations in the county.

“Events like the New Year’s Day run are not just popular with club runners, but attract a wide range of participants of all abilities and are important community events for towns such as Morpeth.

“It is disappointing that the council appear to have disregarded the fact that this race has been held for many years without incident and that the race officials have an enormous amount of experience of organising such events in reaching its decision not to support the holding of the race in 2020.”

The January 2019 edition of the New Year’s Day race attracted around 200 participants.

The race was established in 2003 following the demise of the historic Morpeth to Newcastle race, the oldest road running event in England, which was established in 1904. It also traditionally took place on New Year’s Day.