You could not get a better venue for the English National Cross Country Championships than that provided at Harewood House, near Leeds, on Saturday.
With the magnificent Georgian property sitting on top of a hill within the “Capability” Brown designed landscape, cross country runners turned up in their thousands to contest the 143rd championships.
With the sun shining and not a patch of mud to contend with on the firm going, including up and down some tortuous hills, it proved a tough challenge for the hardiest cross country runner.
There were a record number of finishers in both the women’s and men’s events with a total of 1,034 women and 2,006 men.
And the North East can well be satisfied with their haul of medals, winning two golds, one silver and a bronze medal.
The first gold came the way of Wallsend’s Sam Charlton in the Under-17 men’s race whose trip to the championship could not have have been more dramatic after the club bus failed to turn up. He managed to jump into a clubmate’s car and just made it to the start in time.
That did not upset his race plans as he recorded 18.48 for the 8km course to defeat runner-up Will Barnicoat (Aldershot) by nine seconds.
The other gold captured saw Morpeth Harrier Rory Leonard win the Junior Men’s race, with Darlington’s India Pentland claiming silver in the Under-17 women’s (17.57) behind Cumbria’s Olivia Grace Mason (17.55).
Morpeth also provided the bronze medallist in the senior men’s 12km through Carl Avery (37.04), who finished behind Mahamed Mahamed (Southampton) 36.34 and Emile Cairess (Leeds) 36.35.
First North East team to finish was Morpeth in 18th, followed by Tyne Bridge 22nd, Gateshead 29th, North Shields 41st, and Gosforth 48th.
Sunderland Harriers finished 53rd team out of a total of 154, with Over-45 Robert Walker 381st, Craig Gun 417th, Steve Rankin 567th, Graeme Pullan 808th, Paul Redman 812th and Aidan Crowe 830th.
With Paul Merrison, 872nd, Darren Stoker 906th and David Lash 1134th, they also finished 36th in the nine to count competition.
Sunderland Strollers were 87th team in the six-to-score competition with Callum Thom 446th, John Cook 630th Chris Dwyer 815th Jamie Collin 893rd, Andrew Dobinson 1425 and Richard Baker 1445.
In the 8km women’s race, Heaton Harrier Danielle Smythe was the first North East runner in 31st.
Sunderland Harriers placed Alice Smith in 173rd and Vicky Haswell 211th. Sunderland Strollers had Jenna Maynard in 429th. They were 96th team.
Houghton Harriers’ had Under-17 Will Bellamy in 38th, followed by Sam Gibson 125th, Sam Green 125th, Izaak Taylor 208th and Jack Seeney 248th for 15th team.
The club’s Under-15 Girls had Nicole Phillips in 59th, Amy Leonard 102nd, and Erin Keeler-Clark 135th.