Wednesday 28 September 2022

Northern Athletics’ Autumn Road Relay Championships - North East Success


by Bill McGuirk

IT’S VERY rare that visiting teams return triumphant from the Etihad Stadium but last weekend two of the region’s young athletes’ teams did just that.

Just a sprinkling of clubs managed to support Northern Athletics’ Autumn Road Relay Championships which were held at Sportcity under the backdrop of the home of Premiership champions Manchester City.

However, while numbers may have been light, Morpeth’s under-17 men’s squad and Birtley’s under-13 girls’ team both came out on top in their respective events. 

Morpeth’s victory, the third time the Northumbrians have claimed the title, came as no surprise after Ryan Davies gave them the perfect start after hitting the change over in first place at the completion of the first of 3x3.7k stages. Davies’ time of 11min 35secs proved to be the second fastest overall at the completion of the contest. Bertie Marr took over from Davies and immediately extended the advantage with a 11:37 clocking, the fourth best overall. 

William De Vere-Owen had the honour of contesting the glory leg and despite setting off 12 seconds clear of his closest rival he kept up the pressure all the way to the finish to bring the Northumbrians home in 34:51, extending the advantage at the line to 28 seconds after recording 11:39. Darlington, who were in third place after Alex Bowyer’s 11:39 on leg one, eventually finished in fifth place while Tyne Bridge finished 15th after being in seventh spot at the first changeover thanks to Zak Kettle’s 12:06 stint. North Shields Poly, with Harry Furness their quickest, finished in 17th place.

The under-13 girls event consisted of three stages of 3.1k and Birtley’s Kitty Graham came to the first changeover in fourth place 11 seconds adrift of leaders Rotherham. However, on stage two Olivia Murphy immediately hauled in her rivals to turn around the 11 seconds into a 35-seconds advantage with the day’s second overall time of the day of 12:52 which was just seconds slower than

Rotherham’s Maya Schofield. Kitty’s twin sister, Nell had the comfortable task of taking over for the final stage and she also pushed on to the finish, so much so that at the line after posting 13:09, she had extended Birtley’s advantage to over a minute over Rotherham. The victory augurs well for the Birtley outfit as all three girls will have another year at under-13 level. 

North Shields Poly, with Lily McColl their quickest (14:36) finished in 19th place while Tyne Bridge finished 29th with Poppy Colver the pick of their trio after recording 16:21. Morpeth, unfortunately, had only one representative but Emma Tomlinson performed well as she came home in seventh place on the opening stage after recording 13:45.

In the under-17 women’s 3x3.7k contest the region had only one team on the start line, North Shields Poly, who finished in 15th place with Zoe Matthews posting 15:56 and Amelia Sillence 15:57. Lara Hooper was their other athlete who recorded 17:45. North Shields Poly and Morpeth contested the under-15 girls 3x3.1k contest with the Poly finishing in 24th place, Darcey Tullis their quickest with 14:09, while the Northumbrians came home in 30th position with Molly Roach their best with 14:34.

The under-15 boys contest was also over three 3.1k stages and Morpeth were the pick of the region’s representatives after finishing in sixth place thanks to the second fastest overall time of the day of 10:54 by Oliver Calvert which was just three seconds slower than Preston’s Myles Fraser. North Shields Poly finished 12th, Daniel Watson posting their quickest time of 11:46 while their B squad finished 35th with Jonathan Maley their best with 12:44. Tyne Bridge, with Freddie Palmer posting 11:55, finished in 38th place.

After being in second place at the first changeover thanks to Rowan Steel’s 12:27 – third fastest overall - in the under-13 boys 3x3.1k contest, Darlington just missed out on making it onto the podium after crossing the finish line in fourth place. North Shields Poly finished in 22nd position with Luke Cummings their best with 14:24. Tyne Bridge unfortunately had only two athletes Henry Pickett recording 14:33 and Charlie Kilgour 15:58.

A record entry of 133 teams lined up for the start of the senior men’s 6x6k contest and it was former winners Morpeth who led the region’s charge eventually finishing in sixth place after a solid performance which saw Finn Brodie their quickest with 20:19. Gateshead, another of the North East clubs who have been successful in the past, finished in 22nd place – Josh Blevins their quickest with 20:54 – Sunderland were next home for the region in 26th place with Steve Jackson their best with 21:05; 

North Shields Poly, after being in third place at the first changeover thanks to David Green’s fourth quickest overall time of the day of 19:46, eventually finished 28th and were closely followed home by Birtley in 30th spot, Adrian Bailes their best with 20:14. Tyne Bridge finished in 40th pace with Michael Hedley their best with 20:53; the Poly’s B team were 50th, Andrew Heide their best with 22:50; the Poly’s C team finished 65th with Ben Cook their best with 22:30 while their were incomplete teams from Tyne Bridge B, Gateshead B, North Shields Poly C, Birtley B and Durham City, the tangerines having just one runner in former Northern Cross-Country champion Dan Garbutt who came home in seventh place in an impressive 20:01.

The senior women’s contest was four stages over the same 6k course and it was the Poly who put in an impressive performance to finish in 14th place after being up to fifth going into the final leg. Pick of the quartet was youngster Holly Waugh who posted 23:47 while Molly Pace clocked 24:45; Jacky Penn 24:47 with Gracie Davies bringing them home with 29:25. Tyne Bridge finished 28th with Kathryn Stevenson their best with 25:53; Birtley were 43rd, Chloe Price posting 26:00; Birtley’s second string finished 55th, dependable Kirstin Farquhar their best with 28:44; Tyne Bridge B closed in in 57th place with Hannah Stewart their quickest with 27:40.

**Well done to all the clubs who supported the event and hopefully, when the Northern 12 and six-stage return to Redcar on April 1st there will be a much better turnout from the region. Special mention must be made to North Shields Poly and while they may have returned home empty-handed, they managed to turn out teams in every one of the eight races the Poly being one of only six clubs who managed that the others being Rotherham, Sale, Liverpool, Vale Royal and Wirral.

Photos thanks to Paul Brennan & Morpeth Harriers

Tuesday 27 September 2022

Mini London Marathon 22 - North East Teams

THIS year’s Mini London Marathon has a new look with the event taking place on the Saturday, 24 hours before the main event. 

Once again the North East will be involved this weekend under the guidance of team managers Tommy Millmore, Gary Curtis, Ed Lown, Lynn Cooper, Carole Ward and Chloe Price. 

The under-13 girls squad includes Birtley trio Olivia Murphy and twins Kitty and Nell Graham who were gold medalists at last weekend’s Northern Athletics Road Relay Championships while the under-17 men’s team includes two of the Morpeth trio who also topped the podium in Manchester, Ryan Davies and William DeVere-Owen. 

Good luck to all our athletes, enjoy the experience.

By Bill McGuirk

All the info for the day:

Sunday 25 September 2022

NEHL 22-23 Wrekenton Race Report


Report by Bill McGuirk

WHAT is it about cross-country running that is so appealing? Today’s opening fixture of the Start Fitness North Eastern Harrier League at Wrekenton attracted over 1,360 finishers on a day when many of our local athletes decided to give the fixture a miss having committed to lining up in tomorrow’s Northern Athletics Road Relay Championships in Manchester or taking in the Keswick Marathon.

Despite early morning rain the testing course hosted by Saltwell Harriers was free of mud so many competitors were slightly disappointed and down-hearted nevertheless, the smiles (grimaces) on the face of many told a different story.

As is the norm, the under-11s opened the 10-race programme and it was a superb sight to see 66 boys and 41 girls face the starter in their respective events. North Shields Poly’s Noah Penfold led the boys home over an extended one-mile course winning in 6min 01sec, with Darlington’s Ollie Curran finishing runner-up seven seconds behind. Elswick’s Kallen O’Neil completed the one-two-three in 6:25, holding off his Elswick team-mate, Felix Dixon, by two seconds.

Contesting the same course, Birtley duo Poppie Phillipson and Izzy Hall claimed the leading two places in the girls race finishing in 6:21 and 6:33 respectively with Elswick’s Millie Robson claiming the bronze award in 6:41.


Next up was the under-13 boys race over a shortened course than usual due to work by the local council. However, it didn’t stop Morpeth’s Ewan Line claiming victory in 9:31 with Sunderland’s Sam Thompson finishing second (9:35) and Kasper Pearson (Wallsend) given third place by the judges with the same time as Thompson. Fastest on the course was Noah Williamson (NE Project) who worked his way through the field to finish 13th with an actual time of 9:16. Blaydon won the team race by five points with Wallsend in second place and Heaton third.


The under-13 girls contested the same course as the boys and it was a success for Grace Robinson-Treghar. The Darlington athlete finished in 10:44, 10 seconds clear of Morpeth’s Faye Heatley with Matilda Owens, also of Darlington, finishing in third place in 10:59. Fastest on the course was Houghton’s Kathryn Pye who finished in 14th place after working through from a 1:15 handicap to be rewarded with an actual time of 10:23.


Darlington comfortably won the team race with Gateshead in second place and Morpeth third. Tynedale’s Magnus Riddell led for most of the under-15 boys contest but was overhauled in the closing stages by Blaydon’s Joseph Ramshaw, three seconds separating the pair at the line. Ramshaw recording 8:38. Freddie Palmer finished in third place in 9:01. Ramshaw posted the fastest overall time as he led Blaydon to team victory over Gateshead and Morpeth.

Gosforth’s Millie Moat was a comfortable winner of the under-15 girls contest crossing the line in 10:05. Durham City’s Grace Carter was second (10:14) with Heaton’s Mary Parkin (10:15) holding off Tynedale’s Ania Stobbart to claim third place. Tynedale were runaway winners of the team race with Gosforth second and Darlington third.


The under-17 men’s race was won by Morpeth’s Joseph Close in 17:58, Blaydon’s Maximus Murray finished runner-up in 18:06 with Tynedale’s Ben Brunton completing the podium places in 18:09. Fastest on the course was Gosforth’s Ethan Bond who worked his way through to seventh place from a 2:30 handicap to finish with an actual time of 17:01.


Only two clubs closed in teams with victory going to Morpeth ahead of Gosforth.

The combined under-17/20 women’s race was won by Durham City’s Charlotte Dillon in 18:39 which was also the fastest time of the day. Elswick’s Poppy Old finished in second place in 19:47 with Gateshead’s Aoife Bell in third in 20:23. Gateshead claimed team victory ahead of Elswick and Durham City.


What a wonderful sight it was to see nearly 450 contestants weaving their way in the senior women’s two-lap contest. Durham City’s Katie Iliffe made her Harrier League debut a winning one crossing the line in 24:56. Morpeth’s Morag Stead showed a clean pair of heels to many of her younger rivals after moving into second place at the start of the second circuit eventually finishing in 25:22. Houghton’s Eva Hardie finished third in 25:34. 

Fastest on the course was defending champion Catriona MacDonald who, from a five minute penalty clawed her way through the field to finish in an excellent 17th place to record an actual time of 24:03.

In the team stakes Morpeth headed Division One from Jarrow and Hebburn with Heaton in third place; In Division Two a huge turnout by Washington was rewarded by finishing comfortable winners over host club Saltwell with South Shields in third place while in Division Three Gosforth came out on top finishing ahead of Blyth and Stocksfield Striders.


While the senior women’s race was a sight to behold, the senior men’s contest was even better as nearly 550 fast and not so fast took on three circuits of the reclaimed pit land. And it was Morpeth teenager Matthew Walton who claimed a superb victory finishing 11 seconds ahead of Durham City’s Stefan Szaclewski with Wallsend’s junior international Sam Charlton working his way through to claim third place a further seven seconds back from a 2:20 handicap to record an actual time of 30:15 which was one second slower than Newcastle-based Bristol and West athlete Jarlath McKenna who, from a five-minute penalty worked his way through to finish 18th to record an actual time of 30:14.

In the team race defending Division One champions Morpeth, got off to a winning start finishing ahead of Elvet Striders and Tyne Bridge while Houghton led the way in Division Two finishing ahead of Durham City and Jesmond Joggers while in Division Three Tynedale finished one point ahead of Alnwick with Derwent Valley Trail Runners finishing in third place.

All of the results are available here 

**The NEHL are indebted to Saltwell Harriers once again for hosting an excellent fixture; to the first aiders, to all the marshalls and technical officials and to all the competitors for making it a hugely successful opening to the new cross-county campaign.

We now look forward to the second instalment when the caravan moves to Druridge Bay on Sunday, October 9.

Former international athlete Ieuan Ellis at his first cross country for some time representing #pontelandrunners

For those of you who don't know Ieuan ran a half in Istanbul in 1:04 and a marathon in Frankfurt in 2:14, as well as 63 mins for half marathon in the Great North Run, 2:13:21 marathon in Beijing, and ran 9 world cross country championships in the late 80's.

Follow Ieuan on twitter: @Prof_IeuanEllis

Many thanks to Stuart Whitman for the photos

Thursday 22 September 2022

NEHL 2022-23 - Wrekenton


Hi all,

This information has been sent out to team managers, but for wider dissemination. Please see the image for update to the course from previous years that reflect changes to the layout at Wrekenton.
Host club Saltwell Harriers would like to point out "the importance of all participants and spectators to keep to the designated walkways and tracks. GMBC have planted thousands of very young saplings indistinguishable within the undergrowth and we want to minimise any disturbance to the area. GMBC have worked very positively with Saltwell Harriers and SFNEHL Committee to enable this venue to be used for the Cross Country and we do not want to jeopardise this for future years".
The area normally used for club tents is now off limits so the tents will need to go to other areas nearby as designated and in area to the left of marshal point 3.

To avoid the new trees, some of the junior races (U13 and U15) will be a little shorter than usual for Wrekenton. Pack handicap times have been adjusted accordingly.

Also please note and co-operate with parking arrangements. Parking next to the 'brown' area next to the course is for use by officials, AED Medical, Toilet drop off/collection, Saltwell Harriers members who are putting up / taking down course and tent drop off.


Apart from that, enjoy the day!😀

Online entries for Saturday's race at Wrekenton are now closed.

You can find lists of registered runners here:
If there is a zero next to your name, or your name is not on the list, then you are not registered to take part.

There may be entries on the day for £5, but it's not guaranteed as it'll depend how busy it is at race HQ. The first event can get a bit hectic.

Just a bit of information for Saturday with regards postcode.
NE9 6YR which covers the NHS Park & Ride carpark and NE9 6TZ Cardinal Hume School
Tent drop is on Harebell Rd, best postcode can find is NE9 6SS
Just to reiterate please do not park on main road or in nearby housing estate to avoid any complaints which can jeopardise future fixtures.
The course is a 10/15 minute walk from the NHS car park and school via the cyclepath adjacent to the school at the junction of Moss Side/Old Durham road approx. 350m south of the NHS car park.
Saltwell Harriers.

Guests may run in the league at a cost of £5 for the whole season. This is a one off charge. They must register on the day, and let us know if they competed last season (and if they did we can check the pack).

Guests must be members of a EA or SA affiliated club.

Second Claim runners may not count for team points. They can either run for their first claim club as a guest, or if they come and register on the day they can take part as a non-counting runner in their second claim vest.

Guests & Second claim runners do not accumulate team points, but do get individual grand prix points.

Race HQ will be at the all new singing and dancing NEHL Tent next at the start area.

Reminder to ALL competitors. We do not split race packs. Your team manager needs to collect and pay for your team entries. I have a list of who owes what, we wi
ll not take individual numbers out of the packs, we are far too busy. Find out who your team manager is and make sure they have a cheque or cash with them to cover the club's entry fees.

Costs are £50 + £3 per runner for clubs

£5 for guests

If by some unknown reason you manage to lose your number on the day after you've collected it from your team tent, you can buy a new one for £5. I know it sounds daft, but it has happened before.

Quick reminder of the rules.

You must start in the pack you have been allocated. If you don't we'll cover you in tar and feathers (and DQ you)

You must wear your club's team vest or t-shirt (or you will be DQd & won't count for team points)

RACE ORDER & TIMES for the coming season

1200 Under 11 Boys (1.5k)
1205 Under 11 Girls (1.5k)
1215 Under 17 Men (1.5 laps approx. 5k)
1220 Under 20 & Under 17 Women (1.5 laps approx 5k)
1235 Under 15 Boys (1 lap approx. 2 miles - 3.2k)
1240 Under 15 Girls (1 lap approx. 2 miles - 3.2k)
1250 Under 13 Boys (1 lap approx. 2 miles - 3.2k)
1255 Under 13 Girls (1 lap approx. 2 miles - 3.2k)
1305 Senior Women (2 laps approx. 4 miles - 6.4k)
1350 Senior Men (3 laps approx. 6 miles - 9.6k)

Age restrictions as follows:

Under 11 - must be aged at least 9 on the day of competition
Under 13 - must be 11 on 31st August 2022.  
Under 15 - must be 13 on 31st August 2022.
Under 17 men - must be 15 on 31st August 2022.
Under 17 & 20 women - must be 15 on 31st August 2022.
Senior Men - must be 17 on 31st August 2022.
Senior Women - must be 20 on 31st August 2022.

Masters men aged 65 may (if they wish) run in the 2 lap Senior Women's race, they register as per normal in the men's race, then come to race hq for a replacement number.  Masters wishing to do this must stay in the 2 lap race all season.