Victory No.5 for Vernon at Northern Cross

Steve Vernon claims record fifth Northern Men’s Cross-Country title, while Juliet Doyle retains Senior Women’s crown in the Midlands

Steve Vernon (Dan Vernon)

The wintery conditions at Knowsley Safari Park didn’t appear to put Steve Vernon off his stride today at the Northern Cross-Country Championships.

The Stockport Harrier saw off his competition to claim a record fifth Northern men’s title, while Juliet Doyle dealt with similar conditions to retain the senior women’s crown in the Midlands.

‘Lace up tight’ appeared to be the message of the day at the area cross-country champs, with the recent weather problems leaving courses snow-covered and boggy.

With the South of England Championships controversially cancelled five days earlier because of the weather, many questioned whether the Northern and Midlands events might also be called off. However, lace up the runners certainly did, with events going ahead as planned.

In fact, the conditions at Parliament Hill – the spiritual home of cross-country running in the UK and venue for last year’s English National – appeared to be more favourable that those at Knowsley Safari Park and Stafford Common.

The rolling farmyards of the Safari Park seemed to provide the natural habitat for Vernon, as he saw off fellow Stockport Harrier Pat Martin and Dan Garbutt of Durham City Harriers & AC (second and third respectively) to take the senior men’s title over the 12km course.

The club just missed out on the women’s title too, with Elle Baker finishing behind Hallamshire Harrier Hatti Archer. Archer, who finished third at the recent McCain UK Cross Challenge in Cardiff, also saw off Susan Partridge, the 2011 champion, over the 8km course.

Weynay Ghebresilasie, the Eritean Olympian and asylum seeker who is featured in this week’s AW, won the junior race. The 18-year-old, who competed in the 3000m steeplechase at London 2012, has been embraced by Sunderland Harriers and now targets the under-20 men’s title at next month’s Saucony National Cross on his adopted home turf of Herrington Park in Sunderland.

Georgia Taylor Brown took the under-20 women’s title, while Patrick Dever and Georgia Malir won the under-17 races, Daniel Evans and Harriet Knowles Jones won the under-15 races and Julian Slater and Amelia Lancaster prevailed in the under-13 events.

Elsewhere, as well as seeing Doyle of Charnwood A C retain the senior women’s crown, the Midlands Cross-Country Championships saw Leicester Triathlon Club’s Conor Murphy win the men’s title and Will Paulson of Stroud & District AC and Annabel Gummow of Bristol & West AC victorious in the under-20 races.

Birchfield Harrier Abdi Abdi won the men’s under-17 race, while Mari Smith of Leicester Coritanian AC won the under-17 women’s title. Fellow Leicester Coritanian Ben Dijkstra and Lucy Jones of Charnwood A C won the under-15 races, while TeamBath AC’s John Howorth won the boys under-13 race and Jordan Waine of Leicester Coritanian AC was victorious in the girls under-13 event.

Find full results for the Northern Championships here, and the Midlands Championships here.

» For full coverage of both area cross-country championships, see the January 31 issue of Athletics Weekly which will also include results from this weekend’s London Indoor Games and Welsh Indoor Championships

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