Northern Athletics Cross Country Championships returned to Pontefract after spending two years in Knowsley, favourably weather provided perfect conditions for cross country. Stockport Harriers profile as one of the top endurance clubs in the North has grown considerably during the last decade and if you needed evidence of this just look at the results from Pontefract. They packed well in the team events picking up medals in five of the ten events, added to the individual winners of both senior races. City of York another club on the up, also had a good day and their investment in young endurance development paid off handsomely picking up three team titles.
Stockport’s Elle Vernon produced a measured performance to take the senior women’s title with an 11 second winning margin over Leeds City’s Emma Clayton. An opening first lap thinned the field out into an almost single file procession, it was clear then that the winner was always likely one of two athletes Vernon or Clayton.
As they began their second and final lap Emma held a slight advantage over Elle however a determined effort over the final 4k lap saw Elle take the lead and press on for victory. Rebecca Robinson of Kendal who was always a bit too far off the pace to challenge for the title took bronze a further 26 seconds adrift.
Rotherham who have a good record at this event took the team title with Liverpool Harriers second and Leeds City matching their men with bronze medals in third.
The final race of the day provided a fitting end to there prestigious championships as Andrew Davies completed a Stockport double as he added the men’s title to Stockport’s medal haul in a highly competitive race contested over 3 laps of a challenging course.
There was nothing much to pick between the leading pack of about a dozen plus athletes at the end of the first lap, however the leading group was down to half a dozen on the second lap and as they commenced their final lap it was still an open
race. Defending champion Dan Garbutt was still in there as was Andrew Davies, Alistair Brownlee and a cluster of other Stockport vests, as they jostled for position and picked up the pace on the final lap gaps soon began to open and it was finally whittled down to two athletes Davies and Bingley’s Brownlee. Olympic Triathlon Champion Alistair Bownlee applied the pressure as he worked hard to add the ‘Northern Cross Country’’ to his already extensive list of titles. (7 times Yorkshire Cross Country Champion U13 – Senior plus 7 Times Yorkshire fell running champion) Andrew Davies however had other ideas and produced a perfect race to pull away from Brownlee in the final kilometer and add the cross country to the Northern 10 mile title he won in December his teammate Patrick Martin collected the bronze.
Brownlee later tweeted “Delighted to pull the spikes on and run round a muddy field, it’s been too long. Even more delighted with second” Lets hope we see Alistair comes back for another crack at this title in the near future.
Morpeth turned out their runners and packed tightly with 6 athletes in the first 26 picked up the team gold, and although Stockport had 4 in the first 10 it was only good enough for silver medals this time. Ever consistent Leeds City took the bronze medals.
Bronwen Owen of Scarborough showed a clean pair of heels in the mud of Ponterfract as she ran out a clear winner of the junior women’s title, her winning margin of 19 seconds was one of the biggest of the day. Tessa McCormick of Vale Royal took the silver with Blackpool Wyre & Fylde athlete Molly Betmead taking the bronze. Stockport collected the team gold medals from Vale Royal in silver and Lancaster & Morecambe taking the bronze.
Dan Jarvis of Liverpool Harriers was another with a big winning margin as he comfortably took the junior men’s title and led home his club to the team to gold. Jack Crabtree of Sale was second with Trafford’s Richard Powell in third place. Liverpool Harriers placed their 4 scorers in the first 6 as they raced to an emphatic team title.
In the first race of the day Harriet Jones-Knowles of Warrington claimed the under 17s women title with the biggest winning margin of the day as she run away for an emphatic victory. Katie Waugh of Birtley took the silver and Emma Clapton the bronze. Birtley took the team title with Stockport second and Warrrington third. It was a Yorkshire one and two in the under 17 men event as James Gormley of Sheffield took the title followed home by Bingley’s Emile Cairess. Derby’s Hugo Milner took the bronze. City of York took the team gold from Vale Royal in second and Sheffield in bronze.
Merseyside champion Dan Slater (Liverpool Pembroke & Sefton) added the Northern title with an impressive win over the very capable
Reece Curtis of New Maske. Making a decisive break halfway into the race Dan was able to open a gap which Reece could not close despite his best efforts. Sheffield’s Alfie Manthrope was also chasing hard after the leaders and was rewarded with a bronze. The team event went to City of York whose investment in young athletes paid dividends as they collected another team title, Sheffield were second and Preston Harriers took the bronze. Tilly Simpson of Hallamshire picked up this title. Never troubled she came home with an 18 second winning margin over Sale’s Anie Cunningham, with Emily Simpson of Sheffield third. Sheffield took the team title from Sale and Stockport once again in the team medals.
City of York managed to pick up both individual and team titles in the boys event as Joshua Dickenson led them home with a demonstration of front running. Tom Dawson of city of Leeds in second never gave up the chase but in the end he had to settle for silver as he held off Warrington’s Sam Evans who looked to be closing as they approached the finish. It was a third team title for City of York at these championships with Stockport who also had a good day in the team events coming second. Warrington collected the bronze medals.
Another clear winner was Border’s Oliva Mason who was almost half a minute ahead of the second athlete Ella McNiven of Sale with Lucie Hall of Haliafax taking bronze. Manchester Harriers squeezed out local rivals Sale to take the team title with Liverpool Harriers taking the bronze.
Results can be found on Results Index 2015
Photos Dave Hewitson and Dave Greenwood