Morpeth runners star at Alnwick cross-country

With the sixth and final meeting at Alnwick on Saturday, the curtain came down on the North East Harrier League cross country season for 2021-22 with Morpeth Harriers carrying off three on the day team and two individual wins to round off another highly successful campaign.

By Keith Hamblin
Tuesday, 8th March 2022, 9:49 am
Updated Tuesday, 8th March 2022, 9:49 am
Phil Winkler on his way to victory in the Senior Men's race in front of Alnwick Castle on Saturday.
Phil Winkler on his way to victory in the Senior Men's race in front of Alnwick Castle on Saturday.

There can of course be fewer more picturesque settings for racing than Alnwick Pastures, with the castle’s iconic presence imposing itself on events from the distance on a day of both bright Spring sunshine and chilly Winter breezes, with Alnwick Harriers once again a welcoming and well-organised host club.

There were three Morpeth boys in the U11s with Jacob Thompson first back in 13th (4:03 ), William Macbryde – in his first ever run in a blue and white vest - 45th in 4:45 and Eli Macsparrow 59th in 5:08.

In the U13s boys, Evan Laude was 6th (15:55), Daniel Vermaas 11th (16:16), Thomas Roche 25th (16:54) and William Hawkins 40th (17:39). The team finished third overall.

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In the U13 girls’ race, Morpeth finished second on the day to North Shields, but won the overall league title. This time Grace Cunningham was first back, 6th in 17:07 with Faye Heatley 13th (17:34) and Charlotte Marshall just behind in 14th (17:35), all from Slow Pack. Fastest Morpeth time of the day was by Emma Tomlinson from Fast Pack, 18th in 16:22, with Sophie Pledger 20th (18:10) and Molly Roche 27th from Fast (16:51). Tomlinson also made the top ten in the individual Grand Prix in 9th position.

Their success was matched by comprehensive wins for both U15 and U17 boys, who have dominated their divisions over the season.

Led home once again by Oliver Calvert, 5th in 12:44, the U15 team’s three to count were again made up by Joe Close, only a few seconds behind in 6th (12:47) and Oliver Tomlinson 7th (12:55), all from Fast Pack. Calvert won the individual Grand Prix, with Close in 3rd and Tomlinson in 4th.

The equally dominant U/17s were led home by Bertie Marr, 4th on the day (14:43), with Ryan Davies, 5th in 14:45 and James Tilley, 8th in 15:16.

The club’s first individual victory came in the combined U/17 and U/20 Women’s race, where Duchess High School student Millie Breese comfortably held off all competition to win with the fastest time of the day, 16:31, and also take the overall GP title.

In the Senior Women Cat Macdonald was 3rd overall in 28:10 with Jane Hodgson chasing her most of the way and finishing in 4th (28:54). Macdonald and Hodgson were clear winners of their respective Senior and Veteran GP tables.

Final race of the day, with nearly 500 finishers, was the Senior Men’s, and Morpeth rounded off the season in fine style with overwhelming individual and team victories.

The individual victory came courtesy of local born lad Phil Winkler, clocking 39:38, finished a minute and a half of 2nd place finisher and guest Jarlath Mckenna, whose 36:16 from Fast Pack was the day’s fastest time.

Winning three of the six fixtures outright, Morpeth’s Senior Men won the team title by a seven point margin over nearest rivals Tyne Bridge Harriers.