A round-up of Saucony English National Cross Country Championships action in the grounds of Harewood House

Mahamed Mahamed added to his reputation as a Championships runner when last year’s junior winner and senior Inter-Counties victor won an exciting senior race at the Saucony English National Championships.

Mahamed had to fight hard to hold off BUCS champion Emile Cairess.

The two fought a great dual in the grounds of Harewood House on the outskirts of Leeds on a superb course which was making its National debut after rave reviews in last year’s Northern event.

Mahamed timed 36:34 for the two-lap 12km course to beat his rival by a second.

Cairess has the consolation of leading Leeds to a clear team win in both the six and nine to score contests.

Carl Avery took the bronze in 37:04 with under-23 John Miller a fine fourth ahead of defending champion Adam Hickey.

Tonbridge and Bristol and West took the other medals in both team events.

Leeds made it a team double by winning the senior women’s event though they only won by three points from multi-champions Aldershot.

The individual race also proved to be a mainly two-way battle and it was Aldershot’s Emily Hosker Thornhill, with a previous best of just fourth, who proved the strongest with her greatest ever run.

She broke clear in the last kilometre to win in a time of 28:17 with South of England champion Pippa Woolven a clear second in 28:28 for easily her best Championships race to date.

Former champion Jessica Judd had a strong second lap to finish third ahead of other former junior stars Georgia Taylor-Brown and Louise Small.

Claire Duck in sixth led Leeds to victory.

While the South took the two senior individual races it was the North who gained the most titles overall.

Morpeth’s Rory Leonard was a clear winner of the under-20 men’s race in 28:27. He won by 11 seconds from Nathan Dunn of Preston with Jeremy Dempsey of Shaftesbury surprisingly leading the South’s challenge in third.

Senior winner Mahamed’s brother Zak was eighth, European youth 3000m champion Thomas Keen 10th and Southern champion Lachlan Wellington 11th.

Tonbridge won team gold.

Olivia Mason returned to form to win the under-17 title as she added National titles in her third age group having previously won U13 and U15 golds.

Now over the worst of her anaemia she powered away over the last 400 metres to beat India Pentland by two seconds in 17:55.

Charlotte Alexander took the bronze and led Herne Hill to team victory.

The under-15 boys race also saw the North take the individual gold and South the team title.

Alexander Thompson won in 13:27 to beat the Kent county pairing of Louis Small and Matthew Taylor.

It was Aldershot who were clear team winners from Taylor’s Tonbridge.

Another Northern champion to take gold was Wallsend’s Samuel Charlton and he won under-17 gold in 18:48. Second 11 seconds back was Aldershot’s Will Barnicoat, with Henry McLuckie third.

Invicta, with two of the first six, won the team race.

The final Northern individual winner was Holly Weedall, who had a clear under-15 girls win in 15:03, with Kiya Dee second and Indienne King third.

Yet again it was a Southern team who won the honours though with Blackheath and Bromley packing well ahead of Norwich and Windsor. There were some Southern individual titles in the junior races though.

Amelia Quirk dominated the under-20 women’s race to win comfortably in 20:40. She was followed home by fellow Southerners Jessica Mitchell and Grace Brock.

Mitchell far exceeded all her previous Championships form to take silver.

Yet again the team race was South dominated with Herne Hill defeating Aldershot by two points.

Scarlet Livingstone of Exeter won the under-13 girls race in 10:52, six seconds up on Zoe Gilbody of Wolverhampton, who was one of the most successful Midlands athletes on the day. Tonbridge were clear team winners.

The South also won golds in the other youngest age group with Benjamin Peck taking gold in 9:51. Closer than in the South of England race, defending champion William Rabjohns chased him home three seconds back.

South London Harriers won the team gold from Bracknell.

Overall the Championships were a great success with athletes enjoying unseasonably warm conditions, a very testing but dry course in a superb setting and large enthusiastic crowds.

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