Weightman on target for Commonwealth Games after North Eastern Harrier League success

Morpeth Harrier Laura Weightman, right, and Sunderland Harrier Linda Mudford, left, in action at the North Eastern Harrier League at Aykley Heads.
Morpeth Harrier Laura Weightman, right, and Sunderland Harrier Linda Mudford, left, in action at the North Eastern Harrier League at Aykley Heads.

Laura Weightman showed she is heading in the right direction for next year’s Commonwealth Games after her superb performance in the North Eastern Harrier League at Aykley Heads on Saturday.

The Morpeth Harrier, who makes her 5,000m debut at a major championship on the Australian Gold Coast next April, won the race after giving a 3 minute 30 second start to the majority of the field on the tough 8km course.

She clocked 25.00 minutes exactly to leave her club mates and two of the area’s leading female endurance runners, Emma Holt and Jane Hodgson, in her wake.

Holt finished fourth (25.58) and Hodgson was fifth 26.05, good performances in their own right in a field of 400.

Weightman, who has won Commonwealth silver and European bronze medals at 1,500m, is stepping up to the 12 and half laps event to see if her future lies with the longer distance.

At the Commonwealth Games, she will face the might of the Kenyans and it will be a tough debut for the Steve Cram coached athlete.

At Aykley Heads, with her coach on the sidelines, she did not take the lead until the home straight and one of the athletes she passed on her way to victory was Sunderland Harrier Linda Mudford, who was running from the slow pack.

She had her best ever race to finish 16th to gain promotion to the medium pack.

Also in fine form was Sunderland’s top female Alice Smith, who was also giving away a 3min 30sec start and she finished 10th.

But this was not the end of her competitive weekend for the prolific Penshaw racer, as less than 24 hours later she was on the start line for the North East Marathon club’s event on the Newcastle’e Town Moor.

There she completed seven laps of the Moor and finished second woman in her fourth marathon of the year, recording 3.29.49.

Sunderland Harrier Andy Powell shattered his personal best when finishing 10th in the 66th Brampton to Carlisle 10m Road Race on Sunday.

He clocked 51.32 compared to his previous fastest (58.51) set on the same course in 2014.

He also went through 10km with the leaders in 31.03 which was an unofficial PB. His fastest 10km stands at 31.55. Clubmate Steven Duffy finished 46th in 58.29.

The event hosted the Northern Athletics championships and Jarrow and Hebburn won the women’s team title with Georgia Campbell (58.36), Stephanie Pattinson (60.55) and Alex Sneddon (61.23).

Sunderland Harrier Jacqueline Etherington finished 16th Over-35 when representing Scotland in the British and Irish Cross Country Championships in Northern Ireland.

Former Sunderland Harrier Roger Wilson, now competing for Stratford-upon-Avon AC, lost his Over-75 title when finishing fourth (29.51). The race winner was Bingley Harrier Les Haynes (28.00).

Jarrow and Hebburn Harrier Andy Burn, although finishing fourth to three Over-40s, won the Over-35 title. Other North East medallists were Mark McNally (Elswick) third Over-70 and Terry Scott (Tyne Bridge) third Over-45.

Sunderland Stroller Ray Maynard won the Over-60 North East Fell Running Championship after his performances in the Brough Law, Chapel Fell Top, Sedbergh Hills and Saltergate Gallows fell races.

Clubmate David Langrish, another Over-60 athlete, won his category in the Meon Valley off road event with a tough 1,500ft ascent.

Elswick Harriers have a new event being staged at Gosforth Park on Saturday at 2pm.

A three stage relay event for club and unattached runners will be held where one athlete of the team must be a female.

The remaining two runners can be made up of any male or female of any age. All runners must be at least 16 years of age on the day of the event.