Morpeth’s Senior Women’s squad were gold medallists at the annual NECAA Signals Relays
at Hetton Lyons Country Park on Saturday 31st August 2019.
Although the race had been moved this year from its traditional Spring time slot in the fixture calendar, the course itself remained the same – a 2.2 mile, two lap hilly leg for each runner twice round the lake, although the late scheduling did mean that the number of teams was well down on previous years.
Running at the same time as the Over 50 men, Morpeth’s women were led off by Cat Macdonald who clocked 13 minutes 1 second and had the team in a good second place. Second leg runner and veteran Claire Calverley had only been drafted into the team at short notice, but she stuck at her task gamely to keep the team in contention, although the lead passed to Wallsend Harriers thanks to a fastest leg of the day by Danielle Hodgkinson of 11m 49s.
Another runner not overawed at making a Senior Women’s team debut was Sarah Lawson on leg 3, whose gutsy 15m 41s meant that, at the end of her leg, the club was now in fifth place with the lead having passed to Gateshead Harriers with Houghton Harriers in pursuit.
It was down to Rachelle Falloon to reel in the four teams ahead of her, and this she set about doing with a controlled and determined performance, passing Houghton’s last leg runner, Anna Pigford with only a few hundred metres to go and in doing so clocking 12m 45s, the second fastest overall women’s time of the day to put the team in a winning position for a very pleasing gold medal.
In a women’s veteran competition won by North Shields Polytechnic Harriers, Morpeth’s veteran women, represented by Jill Bennett, Sue Smith, Pam Woodcock and Lesley Chapman finished as tenth veteran team,
while in a strong Over 50 men’s team competition won by Sunderland Harriers,
the club’s two teams were eighth and 12th.
It was certainly a “Good Friday” in every sense of the word for the hard-working athletes of Morpeth Harriers, as they triumphed in the sun at the annual Elswick Harriers Good Friday Road Races, held at Newburn Business Park.
By the time the Senior Relay events, (4 Legs for Men, and 3 for Women) got underway, the early morning misty conditions had gradually given way to warm sunshine, and by the time the final event for Men had concluded, the refreshing abundance of water bottles was clearly in evidence, as a just reward for efforts made all round.
Morpeth Harriers won the Women’s event by a one minute fifty three second margin over second placed
Gosforth Harriers, with Jarrow and Hebburn a further ten seconds adrift in third place.
The Morpeth squad led throughout, after Olympian Laura Weightman, who always enjoys this event,
paved the way by producing an early lead of nearly a minute and a half over early second placers
Gateshead Harriers, courtesy of Junior athlete Chloe Wellings.
For Weightman’s part, she had clocked an excellent 10m53s,
which ironically was only a mere second outside her own course record, set in 2017.
She had only missed out in 2018 because of her Commonwealth Games involvement
and had first competed in these events as an Under 13 athlete.
Catriona MacDonald (12m53s), eagerly held on to her lead during the second leg,
and it was left to seasoned Veteran Jane Hodgson (12m21s) to confirm an excellent victory effort.
Morpeth Harriers Senior Women’s B team finished in an excellent fourth place, as first B team,
courtesy of Holly Peck (12m56s), Lorna Macdonald (13m09s), and Robyn Bennett (12m52s).
In the Veteran Women’s relay, Morpeth finished fifth, courtesy of Helen King (13m15s),
Claire Calverley (15m26s), and Gemma Floyd (12m57s).
Morpeth Harriers had an absolutely superb end to their 2018-19 Start Fitness North Eastern Harrier League season in the final fixture, held at the Pastures, Alnwick, on Saturday 2nd March, when they won four on the day team races, and had four individual wins, which added to their celebrations.
Relative newcomer Sarah Lawson was Morpeth’s first finisher in the two lap Senior Women’s event.
She finished in 14th place from the Slow Pack, leading her club to eighth team place in Division One on the day, which effectively meant that they eventually finished fourth cumulatively
With four to score, further Morpeth team counts came from Sue Smith (51st) (Slow Pack), Jane Briggs (89th) (Medium Pack), and Alison Brown (109th) (Fast Pack).
Other Morpeth performances in the 479 strong field of Senior Woman finishers, came from
Jill Bennett (166th) (Medium Pack), Lucy Fenwick (174th) (Medium Pack), Jane Kirby (215th) (Slow Pack),
Claire Calverley (276th) (Medium Pack), Frances Naylor (286th) (Slow Pack),
and newcomer Victoria Lowrie (376th) (Slow Pack).
The Senior Women’s event had a total of 439 finishers.
Morpeth’s Emma Holt and Rachelle Falloon, neither of whom competed on Saturday,
finished in first and fifth places respectively in the Senior Women’s individual Grand Prix.
In total contrast to the previous weeks icy and snowy conditions, athletes competing in Saturday’s fifth and penultimate Start Fitness North Eastern Harrier League fixture, held at Thornley Hall Farm, near Peterlee in County Durham, faced very little more than a strong prevailing wind to affect their days performance.
Even the severely undulating farmland proved remarkably firm and dry in places, which in previous encounters on the course, have presented tough, muddy and extremely heavy conditions, which many runners found difficult to master, however on Saturday, those who took part were quite pleased with their 2019 experience.
Running from the Fast Pack, Morpeth’s Emma Holt posted the fastest time of the day in the two lap Senior Women’s event, which firmly puts her in poll position in the Harrier League Grand Prix rankings.
She finished in fifth place, just a mere six seconds ahead of second fastest
Danielle Smythe of Heaton Harriers, who was one place behind.
Emma led her club home to a close third place behind Elvet Striders and Gateshead Harriers in Division 1
on the day, with further excellent team support coming from Catriona MacDonald (8th) (Fast Pack) (3rd Fastest), Lucy Fenwick (16th) (Slow Pack), and Jane Briggs (62nd) (Medium Pack).
With one fixture remaining, this result leaves the Morpeth Senior Women in second place cumulatively, six points adrift of leaders Gateshead Harriers in Division 1, and a mere point ahead of third placed Heaton Harriers.
Other Morpeth performances in the Senior Women’s event, which had a total of 296 finishers,
came from Alison Brown (88th) (Fast Pack), Sue Smith (90th) (Slow Pack),
Jill Bennett (119th) (Medium Pack), Jane Kirby (151st) (Slow Pack),
Claire Calverley (204th) (Medium Pack), and Margaret MacDonald (262nd) (Slow Pack).