With more than 8.000 entries and massive fields, it was always going to be a big challenge for clubs to get among the medals in the English National Cross Country Championships at Nottingham on Saturday.
The North East saw only Middlesbrough winning team gold in the Under-15 Boys’ race, while Morpeth edged into second place in the senior men’s team event.
The only individual medal came the way of Middlesbrough’s Philippa Stone in the junior women’s (Under-20) race with third place.
Morpeth, who were targeting their third team win since winning at a snowswept Herrington Country Park in 2013 and at Donington Park last year, missed out on first place by just four points.
Kent club Tonbridge won the championship for the first time, despite having to wait until 145th place for their last team counter, denying Morpeth another success.
Morpeth’s hopes were damaged before the start when one of their leading runners, Nick Swinburn, dropped out on the eve of the race through illness.
They had Jonny Taylor in eighth, Carl Avery 18th, Peter Newton 25th, Adrian Whitwam 69th, Ian Harding 86th and Ross Floyd 87th.
Former Sunderland Harrier Jack Martin (Stockport), whose only other appearance in the National brought a 40th-place finish in 2012, improved to a superb seventh (43min 23sec) this time.
The 12k race was won by Derby’s Ben Connor (39.35).
Sunderland Harriers sent a token team and they finished in 78th spot, with the counters being veteran Ian Dixon 275th, Jason Waite 466th, Aidan Crowe 583rd, Paul Redman 997th, Karl Robinson 1096th and Shaun Bagley 1410th.
Sunderland women Alice Smith and Vicky Younger ran well for their respective positions of 142nd and 217th. Morpeth’s Emma Holt was the first home from the North East in 24th.
In the junior men’s race, Sunderland Harrier Jack Tallentire ran up to form with 109th and Chris Bell was 175th.