North East senior men make it seven in a row in Inter-Counties Cross Country Championships

North East runner Jonny Taylor (left) tracks winner Andy Vernon
North East runner Jonny Taylor (left) tracks winner Andy Vernon
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The North East senior men’s team went into the record books by equalling Lancashire’s seven team victories in a row at the Inter-Counties Cross Country Championships at Prestwold Hall on Saturday.

The victory was all the more impressive as they went into the 12k race, just outside Loughborough, without three of their top men.

Jack Martin, Dan Garbutt and Calum Johnson all pulled out at the 11th hour.

The North East packed their six men inside the first 49 to beat Surrey by 17 points.

The counting six were Jonathon Taylor in ninth, Carl Avery10th, Nick Swinburn 22nd, Phil Wylie 23rd, Greg Jayasuriya 47th, and Andy Burn 49th.

The fast-finishing Avery, Swinburn and Burn ensured the team victory by helping to overtake the Surrey points score in the closing stages.

But the awards did not stop there, as they also won the nine-to-score team race, with Dean Newton in 51st, Robert Balmbra 75th and Dan Jenkin 113th also playing their part.

Andy Vernon (Hampshire) took his fourth Inter-Counties gold in the race with an aggressive display of front running on the undulating parkland of the Prestwold Hall estate.

The North East’s senior women’s team finished fourth in their event, with Ashley Gibson the first counter in 18th.

Then came Rosie Smith in 20th, Helen Warburton 47th, Georgia Campbell 72nd, Rachel Lundgren 70th and Jane Hodgson 80th.

Jessica Judd (Essex) captured her fifth Inter-Counties title and added to the English National title she won in Nottingham last month.

Judd’s first Inter-Counties victory came in the under-13 race in 2008, but this was her first senior title.

The North East Under-20 women were also in gold medal-winning form, with superb runs from Philippa Stone in sixth, Kate Waugh 19th, Sophie Burnett 23rd and Laura Lee 55th.

The Under-13 girls secured bronze medals through Chester-le Street’s Emily Chong in 10th, Innes Curran 21st, Tess Graham 23rd and Erin-Keeler-Clark 41st. Houghton Harrier Nicole Phillips ran well for 59th.

The Under-15 boys also got in the frame in third, courtesy of Archie Lowe in ninth, Daniel Dixon 18th, Patrick Haycock 23rd and Daniel Curry 26th. Houghton Harrier Henry Johnson finished 98th.

Only one individual medal came the way of the North East, when Northern champion Scott Beattie finished runner-up in the Under-20 men’s race to Jonathan Shields, the son of 1984 and 1988 Olympian Jane Shields.

Houghton’s Alec Brown had a good run to finish 35th to help the team to finish fourth. Sunderland Harrier Chris Bell was 151st.

Beattie will now be selected for Uganda for the IAAF World Cross Country Championships later this month.

British Athletics will pick six junior men and six junior women and Philippa Stone stands a chance of being picked through her sixth position in the Under-20 women’s race.

Houghton’s Lydia James was 113th in the Under-15 girls’ race and Anna Pigford was 205th.