The Championship, held at Birmingham's Coften Park, were to prove a stern test as most of the course was covered in mud and actually had to be altered slightly to avoid a particularly dangerous part.
The North East Counties team was picked from performances from the North Eastern, Northern and National Championships and the experience for the younger athletes - to be part of the same team as some of our more well known and even International athletes - is certainly one to savour. The experienced gained is something they will hopefully never forget.
Medals aplenty for our Junior runners
Competition is so high that it has been many years that we have had success in the Under 13 events but as it was, the North East team of Max Pearson (8th), Josh Cowperthwaite (12th), Keiran Hedley (23rd) and Bradley Davies in 59th took home bronze medals in the team championship to get the day off to a great day for the North East.
The first top 10 placing of the day came when Gateshead's Joe Armstrong showed that his 10th place at the National Championships was not a fluke when he improved to a magnificent 7th place in the Under 15 race.
In the Under 15 Girls Championship, Armstrong's clubmate Kate Waugh made sure that the North East's presence was still prominent as she raced to a podium finish with 3rd place. It was a great run by Waugh who stepped up in class after her 4th place in the Northern Championships in January.
Rosie leads the North East girls home
It’s been a long tough season for Rosie Smith, representing Great Britain twice this season at the European Cross Country Championships and Great North Cross Country as well as finishing 2nd at the recent Scottish National Cross Country. These Championships also incorporated the trials for the World Cross Country Championships and it was one step too far for the talented Smith. Although better suited in the muddy conditions she finished just outside the top 10 in 13th place and led the team to an 8th place finish. A top run by the likeable Rosie and we look forward to seeing her knocking out some great times this summer road race season.
Three in a row for Senior Men
The final race of the day gave the region the most success as the Senior Men retained the team title and won the event for the third time in a row and for the fourth time in six years. After his fourth place last year Jonny Taylor, now a seasoned GB International, was looking to get into the medal positions as well as onto the World Cross Country team. In the leading group from the start, he battled hard to maintain his position but was caught by 2011 Champion Andy Vernon in the second half of the race. Another 4th place was just reward for such a brave run and earns him selection for the World Cross Country team to compete in Poland on March 24th .
Team Manager Steve O’Gara, who has been in charge for the last 6 years was thrilled with the result “The first year I took charge of the team it consisted of top runners such as Ian Hudspith, Stewy Bell and Brian Rushworth. Although great athletes we knew that the team had to evolve and for the past three years our scoring 6 have all been younger athletes who have come through the ranks.” The North East’s winning score of 108 was the lowest winning score during their winning streak “It was great to win with such a low points score and credit must go to Richard Morrell who is having a great season and would have got into the top 10 if he didn’t get a stitch on the last lap” O’Gara continued.
Full results can be found at the Athletics Weekly website. Click here and follow the link at the end of the report.