Cross-country runners battle gruelling conditions at Wollaton Park in historic Saucony-sponsored event

Calum Johnson led a Northern one-two-three as he won Gateshead’s first English National senior title since Brendan Foster in 1977.

The Northern champion (pictured) made his move on the long final lap of Wollaton Park in Nottingham and eventually won by 23 seconds in 43:36 on the supposedly 12km course.

He had only finished 39th in the recent Armagh 5km but knew his 14:14 time showed he was in good form for 12km which he felt was more to his liking.

“I felt strong and pushed on the hill and thought that as I had beaten my rivals in the Northern I knew I had a good chance,” he said.

Joe Steward and Linton Taylor matched their Northern positions in second and third. Adam Hickey did well to finish fourth after spending time putting on a shoe that came off in the early stages of one of the muddiest ever National courses and amid strong winds.

Led by Max Nicholls in 11th, Tonbridge won the team event.

Anna Emilie Møller added to her European under-23 and BUCS victories this winter with another gold. Running in the Aldershot vest, the St Mary’s student became the first ever Danish winner of the title as she broke clear on the last lap to win in 32:59.

“It was the toughest cross-country I have run,” said Møller, who next competes in a 10km in Spain before embarking on a track season which should culminate in the Olympic steeplechase.

She won a second gold on the day as Aldershot defeated Leeds by 10 points in the team contest.

Jess Judd was pleased to finish second in 33:20 and said: “The course and mud did not suit me but I am pleased with my run and my season, which is the best I’ve had.”

She did technically win the English title and joked: “Maybe I should run in the Danish Championships next year!”

Her next race is also on the road as she makes her half-marathon debut in New York next month.

Third was Bronwen Owen while South of England champion Jess Gibbon was fourth ahead of an inspired Charlotte Dannatt.

The junior women’s title was retained by Amelia Quirk in 25:33 – five seconds ahead of fellow Mick Woods-coached Isobel Fry. Quirk had the added bonus of leading her Bracknell team to a one point victory over Aldershot.

Aldershot did win the under-17 women’s race but only on countback from Blackheath as both teams scored 119 points. The individual title went to Maya Todd McIntyre, who won by 10 seconds in 21:59 from Kirsten Stilwell with Lara Crawford taking bronze.

Kiya Dee has one of the biggest wins of the day as she won the under-15 girls title by 22 seconds in 18:35. Grace Roberts and Jessica Bailey took the other medals with Roberts leading Vale Royal to team gold.

Zoe Gilbody made up for her Midlands under-13 loss to Shaikira King as she gained a clear win in 15:00 as it was a Midlands top three as Scarlett Williams took bronze.

With two in the top 10 Tonbridge won the team race as Gilbody’s Chiltern Harriers weren’t at their best as South of England winner Francesca Baxter dropped back.

Zak Mahamed showed he is successfully following on the footsteps of his brother Mahamed, who won the senior title last year, as he won the junior men’s title in 36:27. European under-20 1500m medallist Joshua Lay was 15 seconds back in second as Shaftesbury won team gold.

Will Barnicoat, who has twice been second in the National, finally won gold as the South of England runner-up proved too strong for Flynn Jennings, who set a UK under-17 5km record at Armagh last week.

Mohamed Ali made it a South 1-2-3 with bronze and it was also a South clean sweep in the team contest as Barnicoat’s Windsor led home Tonbridge and Aldershot.

English Schools champion Lewis Sullivan continued his winning run in the under-15 race in 16:30 but he only won by two seconds from last year’s under-13 champion Benjamin Peck with Northern champion Chris Perkins third.

Alden Collier has dominated the under-13 boys age group all season and he won yet again but had to fight all the way as he won by a single second in 14:21. Gianleo Stubbs and James Lewis took the other medals as Collier’s Chiltern won the team race by 60 points.

» Full coverage in the February 29 issue of AW magazine

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