DEPLETED Morpeth Harriers finished a disappointing 17th – three places ahead of Gateshead – in the ERRA Nike 12-Stage Road Relay Championships at Sutton Coldfield.
The Northumbrians were without six of the team which won the bronze medals at Sutton Park last year, including Mongolian Olympic Games marathon runner Serod Batochir, former AAA 1500m champion Nick McCormick, Ian Hudspith, Nick Swinburn and Jonathan Taylor.
Morpeth’s highest position was on the short second 2.995-mile leg when former North-East cross country champion Lewis Timmins gained ten places to hand over in 13th, while Northern 10,000m track champion Peter Newton was their fastest over the 5.38-mile long leg distance after the fourth change, moving up six places.
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Gateshead’s most eye-catching performance came from former English Schools 1500m champion and junior cross country international Ross Murray, who clocked the fastest short-leg time of the day, 14 minutes exactly, to gain 13 places, finishing eighth on the fourth circuit.
Former Sunderland Harrier and 2010 North-East cross country champion Patrick Martin, now with Stockport, ran the fastest long leg in 26 mins 1 sec to lead on the first leg.
Luke Adams, of the host club South Shields Harriers, won the Sand Dancer 10K in 33 mins 7 secs, beating Jarrow and Hebburn’s Andy Burn by over a minute.