Morpeth Harriers’ teams medal at Birtley Relays

Cross country competition continued on Sunday with the annual Birtley Relays held at Lord Lawson of Beamish Academy - and it was a day of rich pickings for Morpeth Harriers with four team wins, one second and two third places.

By Keith Hamblin
Tuesday, 18th January 2022, 10:22 am
Updated Tuesday, 18th January 2022, 10:22 am

Run over three stages, each runner was faced with negotiating their 3000m over two laps round a twisty course.

With the event again incorporating the NE Masters Championships, there were team and individual medals to be won in categories from 35 upwards, as well as awards for fastest leg times.

Race One featured Male Masters from 35 upwards and one of the best Morpeth veteran turn-outs in a long while saw the club medalling in each of the ten year categories, with gold medals in the O45s and O65s, a silver in the O55s and a bronze in the O35s.

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Morpeth’s O45s finished 3rd overall behind race winners Tyne Bridge Harriers and Sunderland Harriers. With Lee Bennett on leg 1 running the day’s fastest O50 time of 11:03, there were further good runs by Jason Dawson on leg 2 (11:54) and John Butters on the anchor leg (10:40). The club’s second O45s outfit of Eric Adams, Richard Kirby and Jamie Johnson were in addition 4th team in the category.

The biggest margin of victory of the day was by the O65 team of David Nicholson (12:12), Bill Tilley (13:11) and Gavin Bayne (12:16) whose combined time of 37:39 was well over five minutes ahead of Blaydon Harriers. Keen rivals Nicholson and Bayne ran the fastest O65 times of the day.

The clubs O55s lost out for a gold to North Shields Polytechnic, but Rob Hancox and Neil McAnany did at least have the consolation of running fastest O55 and 65 legs, while there was an unexpected bronze in the O35s for Andrew Hebden, Adam Pratt and, in his first outing in a blue and white vest, David Sadler.

Race 2 featured Senior and Masters Women’s teams and again there were medals for all three Morpeth outfits.

Missing one or two of the club’s fastest runners, Morpeth’s Senior Women still pulled off an excellent third place with Lizzie Rank on leg 1 (12:47), Tayla Murdy on leg 2 (13:47) and Lindsey Quinn on the anchor leg (12:20), behind host club Birtley Harriers, who won in 36:08, and Sunderland Harriers.

Perhaps the stand-out performance of the day was by the club’s O35s, however, who finished in 3rd place overall and won a well-deserved team gold, with Helen King on leg 1 (12:57), Julie Vermaas on leg 2 in her first Masters Relay (12:46) and Gemma Floyd anchoring the team on leg 3 (12:10).

The Senior Men’s race saw the day’s fastest times.

With Birtley teenager Chris Perkins out on his own on leg 1 with the day’s second fastest time of 9:10, Connor Marshall (9:37) led the chase behind and passed on to Sam Hancox.(9:38) who established a Morpeth lead of over 20 seconds. With Carl Avery, who had run 30:26 in the Valencia 10k the previous weekend, anchoring the team the lead was never likely to be challenged, but his fastest leg of the day (9:06) meant the margin of victory to runners-up Birtley was over a minute.