Golden moment for North East in National Cross Country Championships

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The North East came away from the English National Cross Country Championships with three individual medals and one team gold.

The powerful Morpeth senior men’s squad won the team championship easily at Donington by placing their six counters in the first 40 finishers, with Nick Swinburn finishing third for the second year in a row.

Middlesbrough’s Josh Cowperthwaite won the under-15s race and Morpeth’s Scott Beattie was runner-up in the under-17 event.

This was the Morpeth’s seniors’ second National team victory, having won in atrocious conditions at Herrington Country Park in 2013.

Behind Swinburn came Johnny Taylor in sixth, Carl Avery 16th, Peter Newton 30th, Lewis Timmins 35th and Adrian Whitwam 40th.

Ian Hudspith, who was an invited guest to a Sunderland Harriers training night at Silksworth two weeks ago, offering training tips and leading a training session, was Morpeth’s seventh runner to finish in 55th.

At the age of 45, the only gold medal missing from his National collection is the cross country one.

Sunderland, whose best performance came in 1988 with first Northern team in sixth and the first club to finish nine counters, closed in fourth North East team back in 70th.

Steve McMahon 284th, Michael Edwards 423rd, and Paul Merrison 511th were the only club runners to make the first 1,000.

Durham City, led by Dan Jenkin in 50th, finished 34th. Tyne Bridge were 31st.

Sunderland Harriers finished 50th in the women’s team contest, courtesy of Nicola Woodward 199th, Coleen Compson 329th, Emma North 330th and Kim Fox 628th.

Morpeth’s Emma Holt, the winner of last year’s Penshaw Hill Race, was the first North East finisher in 22nd.

Sunderland’s Sophie Burnett (Birtley) finished 23rd in the junior women’s race.

Houghton Harriers had a good run from North East champion Henry Johnson in 12th in the under-13 race. Clubmate Will Bellamy was 89th.