Swinburn in the Nick of time

Nick Swinburn saved the region's blushes by picking up the only individual medal at the National Cross-Country Championships in Herrington Country Park, Sunderland.

Nick Swinburn saved the region's blushes by picking up the only individual medal at the National Cross-Country Championships in Herrington Country Park, Sunderland.

Despite the championships being held in the North East for the first time since 2001, the Morpeth athlete was the lone podium finisher when he came home strongly to finish third in the junior men's contest.

Just as he had done in the North of England Championships, where he finished runner-up, the World Cross-Country representative had to pull out all the stops in the closing stages to snatch a well-earned medal, which went a long way to make up for a disappointing run in the Inter-Counties Championships.

To cap a fine day for Swinburn, he led his Morpeth colleagues to second place behind a strong Liverpool quartet.

Backing Swinburn up were new signing Jonathan Taylor (15th), fit-again former North of England under-13 champion and junior Great North Run winner Nathan Shrubb (43rd), and Jonny Young, who closed in the team in 48th position.

In the under-17 men's contest, Chester-le-Street's Carl Smith was the region's first finisher in 20th place, followed by Karl Taylor (Morpeth) in 27th position.

North East champion Tristan Venus (Tynedale) continued his good form to finish 11th in the under-15 boys race, with Newton Aycliffe's Chris Gaffney next home in 27th position.

Another North East champion, Mark Shaw from Teesside, finished in second place in the under-13 boys championship, with Shildon's Cameron Boyek crossing the line in ninth spot to make up for the disappointment of dropping out of the Inter-Counties Championships.

Gateshead's Mary Ferrier finished in 13th place in the junior women's race, with Morpeth's Delyth James not far behind in 21st position.

In the under-17 women's championship Morpeth's Laura Weightman finished 14th after being prominent in the early stages, while Blaydon's Helen Girtig crossed the line in 23rd place.

Shildon's Kate Avery, winner of the under-13 championship two years ago, finished seventh in the under-15 contest this time round, while in the under-13 race Morpeth duo Hannah Rank and Rachel Denton were once again to the fore, Rank finishing strongly for 16th place and Denton eight places behind.

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