North East athletes claimed five medals - including three gold - at Saturday’s Saucony 127th English National Cross Country Championships at Wollaton Park, Nottingham.
The success began from the first event of the day for under-17 women as Lydia Turner of Birtley – sidelined by injury for most of January and early February – returned to the form which had seen her finish 13th in the European Junior Cross Country Championship in December.
Turner was content to shadow long-time leader Bobby Clay of Invicta on the first of the two laps, closely followed in the early stages by another fellow junior international and northern champion Harriet Knowles-Jones of Warrington.
Turner caught Clay on the second circuit and, after the pair took turns in leading in the final kilometre, the former sprinted away in the final 150m to win by four seconds.
She had excellent backing from Sophie Burnett (18th), Philippa Chambers (32nd) and Robyn Waugh (62nd) as Birtley took the team title.
The third victory came in the under-13 boys’ race when Joshua Cowperthwaite of Middlesbrough Mandale led all the way to add the national title to victories in this season’s North Eastern and Northern Championships.
Crook’s Markhim Lonsdale was second in the under-15 boys’ race behind Ben Dijkstra of Leicester.
Gateshead, the northern champions, had to settle for silver in the junior men’s team awards behind Tonbridge.
Northern ndividual champion Calum Johnson finished a close-up fourth behind Jonny Davies of Reading. He was supported by Simeon Greenwood (35th), Barry Maskell (39th), and brother Dan (43rd).
Gateshead Harrier Elizabeth Mooney did well in the junior women’s race to finish ninth.
Newcastle University student Amelia Pettitt (13th) was first county for the bronze medal winning Vale Royal team.
The day’s feature senior men’s event attracted a field of more than 1,650 runners - the largest for years.
Steve Vernon of Stockport won – a record eighth individual medal – from British Universities champion Richard Goodman of Shaftesbury Barnet.
Nick Swinburn was fourth but his club Morpeth, the defending champions, had a disappointing day - finishing sixth behind Bedford and County.
North-East based Carl Smith (35th) was the second counter for the silver-medal Leeds City team.