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

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