Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Harriers Bathe in Mud -and Glory

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Harriers Bathe in Mud -and Glory

Article excerpt

Byline: BILL McGUIRK

IT was a long wait but in the end well worth waiting for as Morpeth Harriers claimed the region's only set of medals in what was the final event of the National Cross-Country Championships at Herrington Country Park, Sunderland.

Though the course resembled a quagmire after snow turned to mud due to the 2,000 or so competitors pounding their way round in the previous nine races, the Northumbrians rallied to team manager Dave Swinburne's call in the best way possible by lifting the coveted National Cross-Country team trophy.

There wasn't a chink in Morpeth's armour as every one of their members pulled out all the stops to win the title for the very first time despite many years of trying.

It was always going to be a tough challenge especially against the strong Leeds City squad who had come out on top in the previous two Nationals at Parliament Hill and Alton Towers.

But Morpeth were not to be overawed and it showed at the completion of the first of three four-kilometre circuits round the reclaimed mining land.

In-form Jonny Taylor led the charge and was lying in third place with the rest of his team packing admirably behind.

Going into the final circuit, Taylor dropped back to fifth and then took a nasty tumble. However, despite being covered in mud, the international battled all the way to the finish to cross the line in eighth position.

That was just what Morpeth needed though Leeds' first counter, James Wilkinson, finished one place ahead of him. Having arguably his best cross-country outing, recent signing Richard Morrell was next home for Morpeth in 11th place after working his way through the field on the final lap to finish seconds behind Taylor.

Lewis Timmins was next home for Morpeth in 15th place after holding off the challenge of two Leeds athletes, one of which was Tyneside-based Carl Smith who finished in 16th position.

With three counters home, Morpeth had 34 points with the defending champions on 40 so it all hinged on each teams' final three scorers. …

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