White Roses Bloom in the Red Rose County by Susan Jardine

SUNNY days and Bank Holiday Mondays don’t often go hand in hand but it is an ideal whenever a sporting contest is underway.
Bank Holiday Monday in Blackpool gave us the perfect hat trick in the Judith Temperton Northern Athletics Inter-county Championships .
The event bears the name of Judith Temperton, the greatly loved and missed administrator of Northern Athletics who passed away in November 2023. It is hard to imagine how she would not have enjoyed the level of competition, and the spirit it was conducted in by all athletes in Blackpool.
Competing were the North East, Cumbria, Humberside, Yorkshire, Lancashire, Greater Manchester, Cheshire, Merseyside, Lincolnshire and Derbyshire. Each county selecting up to two athletes to battle it out for points for their teams in the Under17 boys and girls and U15’s 
Every point counted and as with any competition in this format – it is about finishing as high as you can – even if your time and distance may not be the greatest or quickest on paper the old maxim from game shows of yesteryear applies of points making prizes.
There were plenty of dominant performances – not least in the U17 3000 where Lincolnshire were celebrating after a dominant performance which saw them lead from start to finish, wrapping up victory in a time of 9;40;98, a time good enough to give a passport into the Schools Championships later in the year. The North East showed their prowess in the U17 sprint hurdles – two heats were held with the overall event victory going to the North East after posting the quickest time over the two heats. Yorkshire were soon registering event wins with victory in the U17 high jump with a leap of 1;95.. It did not take long for the white rose county to move into the event lead with 88 points with the North East lying in second and Cheshire in third 
Such is the in depth strength of Yorkshire that once they took the lead in the competition it was difficult to see them relinquishing it. They were not to do so and while all counties enjoyed the spotlight with wins with Merseyside and the North East showing strongly in the sprints it was the consistency of Yorkshire that was to prove critical as they led at the halfway stage by forty points with a total of 174, Greater Manchester in second on 134 and the North East lying in third on 129.
As befits the nature of a team competition it concluded with the relays. the 4x100m for U15s girls and boys. First on the track were the girls and the North East looked to have recorded the quickest time but then came the news that they have been disqualified and victory went to Greater Manchester from Yorkshire and Humberside rounding out the top three. The boys went to Merseyside with Yorkshire disqualified.. All of which brought us to the medley relays for U17. The format, two legs of 400m and the third leg an 800m. The girls event went the way of Yorkshire, who eased home ahead of Derbyshire and Cumbria. The stage was now left to the U17 boys and just to round off an outstanding performance from Yprkshire they stormed home in that one too, ahead of the North East and Lancashire who completed the top three
Yorkshire were by now celebrating victory , but as the day concluded all that remained was for the points to be totted up to see who had won each trophy. The U15 girls title went to Greater Manchester, with the U15 boys trophy heading the way of Merseyside. Just to complete a brilliant day for the white rose county, Yorkshire took both U17 boys and girls trophies
Plenty of excitement surrounds the season as we head to Middlesbrough for Northern  Athletics U20 and Seniors Championships. While a line has been drawn in the sand at Blackpool it merely means the end of this chapter as athletes turn their focus to Combined Events regional finals, and the age group championships in Derby with the English Schools championship also on the horizon
Susan Jardine is Presenter of Sportszone on Nova Radio North East. You can listen to the programme 2-6 every Saturday by going to www.novaradio.co.uk