There were record fields in both Senior events in Saturday’s 108th North Eastern Counties AA Cross Country Championships at Temple Park, South Shields.
On a cold, breezy day, conditions underfoot for the Start Fitness-supported event were much better than they were at Hartlepool last year.
Durham City Harriers provided the winners of both senior races with Dan Garbutt taking his first title and Rosie Smith her fourth.
Garbutt was content to stay in the leading group of 12 who headed the 361-strong field after the first of the three laps, Morpeth Harriers assured of the team title.
Garbutt made his bid for victory at the start of the second circuit with only former Sunderland Harrier Jack Martin (third in 2011) covering the move.
Close behind were Morpeth’s Nick McCormick having his first race of the season and Yared Hagos of Wallsend.
Garbutt dropped his rival on the final lap, pulling away to a six-second victory.
Hagos won the battle for third ahead of McCormick but his Morpeth outfit had all their six counters in the first 10 and, with 13 runners in the first 50, their B team could have taken the silver medals – had this been allowed.
This honour went to Gateshead, with Durham City taking third place.
In the senior women’s race, Smith was joined in the early stages by Alyson Dixon of Sunderland Strollers - the pair holding a large lead over Wallsend’s Danielle Hodgkinson after the first of the two laps.
Smith dropped her rival as they headed for the start of the second circuit, opening up a gap of 11secs at the finish line.
Hodgkinson took third place ahead of Emma Holt of Morpeth and Alex Snook, who led a strong Jarrow and Hebburn squad to their first team title in this event.
Lydia Turner, who finished 13th in the European Under-20 Cross Country Championship at Belgrade last weekend, outclassed the opposition in the combined under-20/under-17 race.
Turner had an 11-second lead after the first 800m loop, extending that to 79 seconds at the finish to win her fifth successive title, having won one at under-13 level, two at under-15 and now two at under-17.
In second place was leading under-20 athlete Elizabeth Mooney of Gateshead.
Third across the line was Philippa Stone of Middlesbrough Mandale, outsprinting Sophie Burnett of Birtley – the pair took the minor medals in the younger age category. Birtley won the team title.
Cameron Boyek, successful in two races in the last three weeks, won another when taking the men’s under-20 title.
Boyek soon pulled away from the field crossing the finish line, 57 seconds ahead of Gateshead’s Dan Johnson, with Adrian Bailes of Birtley taking third. Gateshead took the team honours.
Morpeth Harrier Nathan Cox, who lives in Berwick, easily won the under-17 event from Thomas Goulding of Birtley. Cox also led Morpeth to another team title.
Markhim Lonsdale of Croo k had to work hard to retain his title in the under-15 boys’ race while Olivia Bateman of Jarrow andHebburn easily won the girls’ under-15 race from Darlington’s Katie Noble.