Patrick Martin returned to competition after a six-month absence to win his second North Eastern Counties Cross Country senior men’s title in arctic conditions at Sedgefield on Saturday.
The Manchester-based teacher returned with his brother, Jack, to their mother’s home in East Herrington for the weekend to launch his bid.
With Jack deciding to opt out of the race to save himself for England representative honours in the Lotto Cup in Belgium next Sunday, it was left to Patrick to fly the family colours, with Jack shouting him on.
The 30-year-old defied the blizzards and mud to hit the front on the first of the four laps of the 12k race. He was never headed, despite a charge by a group of Morpeth Harriers who had six runners in the first nine finishers in a record field of 410.
He clocked 40min 53sec to win by 27 seconds from Morpeth’s Carl Avery, with clubmate Peter Newton third (41.34) third.
Washington’s Kevin Calvert (43.38) was Morpeth’s final counter in ninth. Gateshead were second team and Tyne Bridge beat Sunderland Harriers on countback to win the bronze medals.
The Sunderland counters were Kevin Jeffress in 18th, Nathan Reed 24th, Steve McMahon 25th, Ian Dixon 31st, Liam Roarty 33rd and Matt Jones 44th.
Patrick, who won the title in 2009 and was second in 2011 when representing Sunderland Harriers, transferred to Stockport Harriers in 2012 following his move to Manchester.
He said: “It was nice to be racing again and to enjoy another win. It’s six months since my last race due to plantar fasciitis.
“I didn’t know what to expect. I’ve had to do the sessions by myself – hills and tempo runs, no track workouts as I’ve been getting a bad back from it. But I’m hoping to get back in with Jack and the group after they race in Brussels next week.’’
Sunderland Harriers had a better result in the junior men’s under-20 race when they had Michael Wilson in second place and the team filling the same position.
The middle distance track specialist ran a cagey race content to let the leaders go, being in fifth place on the first of three laps, well outside the medals. He moved into third place going into the last lap and, by the finish, he was second.
“I just thought they went off too fast,’’ said the Birmingham University sports student. “I was confident I could pull them back as the race progressed. But I couldn’t get in touch with the winner. It has got to one of my best cross country races.’’
Gateshead Harrier James Cripwell won in 29.33. Wilson finished on 29.51 and with fellow Sunderland Harriers Mark Smith seventh (30.55) and Jonny Howe 12th (31.42), the team silver medals were in the bag.
Durham City Harrier Rosie Smith won her third title in a row in the women’s race (31.55) from Olympian Laura Weightman (Morpeth), who clocked 32.35.
Sunderland Stroller Alyson Dixon’s battle against the elements was rewarded with third place (33.08). She said: “These were the worst conditions I’ve ever raced in.’’
Sunderland Harrier Nicola Woodward was 33rd.