Following some fantastic performances, Birtley men picked up the team award, coming away with the impressive trophy shown below Bill's report - well done lads, and to everyone who competed on Sunday - amazing efforts by all!
Race report courtesy of Bill McGuirk
PERFECT conditions were the order of the day for the 500-strong field contesting the
Heaton Memorial 10k on Newcastle Town Moor which incorporated the North East
Counties and NE Masters Championships.
And competitors, who lined up for an impeccable minute’s silence before going on their
way, took full advantage as they produced excellent performances which was headed by the
newly-crowned men’s and women’s champions, Calum Johnson and Sonia Samuels.
Johnson, the current National cross-country champion, heads for Liverpool in two weeks’
time in a bid to make the GB&NI team for the European Cross-Country Championships in
Dublin, set out his stall from the gun taking an early lead and from then to the finish was
never headed. At the half-way point, reached in 14min 22secs, the Gateshead athlete had a
36-seconds advantage over second-placed George Lowry (Morpeth) who was followed 15
seconds behind by Sam Hancox (Morpeth), 2018 winner Birtley’s Adrian Bailes and Jariah
McKenna of Bristol and West, who was runner-up behind Bailes three years ago. Following
the leading five came Gateshead’s Conrad Franks and Tyne Bridge duo Tom Charlton and
Johnson continued to cut out a lone furrow on the second circuit extending his advantage
with every stride so much so when he hit the finish line (a course record of 28:28) he was
close to two minutes clear of his nearest rival which was Bailes who managed to outsprint
McKenna to claim the county silver medal with McKenna, now living in the North East,
picking up the bronze award.
Hancox, showing signs of getting back to his best after a number of problems, was delighted
with his fourth place after finishing ahead of Morpeth team-mate Lowry, who was fifth,
Franks (6th) and Hedley, who was the pick of the Tyne Bridge pair, who finished seventh.
Meanwhile, in the women’s section it was a triumph for Loughborough-based Samuels who
took in the race while visiting family for the weekend. The Rio Olympian, now 42, always
headed her rivals and by half-way, reached in 16:38 was over a minute clear of Elswick’s
Justina Heslop who had a similar advantage of fellow Elswick athlete Amy Fuller with Jarrow
and Hebburn’s Alex Sneddon back in fourth place.
On the run for home Samuels continued to up the tempo and she, like Johnson, was
rewarded with a new course record of 33:32 as she crossed the line in 25th place overall.
Heslop, like Samuels, a former National cross-country champion during their teenage years,
showed signs of that form in what was her first serious outing since finishing third at
Saltwell in 2018, finished a comfortable runner-up while Sneddon moved through in the
later stages to claim the bronze award. Elswick teenager Imogen Bungay finished in fourth
place followed by Kathryn Stevenson (Tyne Bridge) with Fuller, after earlier prominence,
crossing the line in fifth spot.
** Thanks go to Heaton Harriers’ and all their volunteers, and that, of course, includes all
the people who manned the cake stall which accumulated over £500 for charity, for once again hosting an excellent event
*** NOW that the dust has settled and having done my race report 24 hours earlier, it has been suggested by a number of competitors that the course for Sunday’s Memorial 10k road race may in fact have been slightly short. The organisers have taken on board the concerns and are looking into the matter and will make an announcement on their findings in due course.
Photos here by Stuart Whitman
Full senior results here (apologies, don't have the junior results link at the minute)