Northern Cross Country Championships 2020- North Yorkshire.

Dave Greenwood/ Peter Shaw

The month of January has always been a hectic time to cope for Athletes with Cross Country in mind. There are County Championships, a MACCL fixture and the end of the month is the Northern Championships.

The last decade has given us Snow at Knowsley, a frozen field at Sunderland (which later thawed stranding many cars until a tractor towed them off.), fog at Blackburn, driving rain and hail at Knowsley and finally this year a mild day preceded by a dry week. Remember this year, it can’t last. Athletes who can run Cross Country make great employees- committed, never give up, determined, prepared and ever so slightly bonkers.! Forgive me though I’ve forgotten one important aspect for Sale runners – success.

Senior Men’s Champions for the last three years, Under 13 Champions two years with individual winner in 2019, U20 Women’s Champions the last two years with individual winner in 2018, U15 Girls winners in 2017. Now I’m beginning to sound like ‘Statman’ Fechin. If you are like Nigel Martin, you will have trained for Championships and rarely seen in local races-that’s how it works. Many of the younger members do all they can and the Championships are a step up for them. From all the successes it’s not been all the same people. If someone retires or goes to live somewhere else another steps up to take the mantle. After all our success how would we fare this year?

The U17 Women always begin the day and set the tone. It’s a difficult age, lots of changes and the pressure of exam year at school. We needn’t have worried because Lara Crawford led from the front all the way round and came home first with a fairy comfortable lead. Salford however packed quite well and their strong group took the team title leaving Sale content with Silver.

Pride of place goes to LARA CRAWFORD who won the U17 girl’s race having won silver and bronze in previous championships. Lara teamed up with JESS SPILSBURY, EMILY-KATE HALL and GEORGIA HEATH to finish runners up in the team race.

Next up were the Junior Women, a race with lots of strong individuals such as winner Olivia Mason but not many had a strong team. Although our first counter didn’t come in until 15th the team ran close together and few points separated the medallists, we were only nine points off winning. Bronze medals saw the Sale vest on the podium again. The youngest races took a loop that didn’t stray far from the finish area and the two laps were spectator friendly and avoided the heaviest ground. U13 races always seem very hectic with masses of eager runners streaming in close together. We had hopes of a medal and so it proved to be with the Clough twins leading the charge which ended with a Bronze medal.

The U17 Boys has not been a strong group for us recently and without some regular runners the strength of the field proved a little too much. Our runners made a valiant effort but without many recent races under their belts it was always going to be tough.

sale u13 at start northerns

Reigning champions the U13 boys had a lot to live up to after the heroics of the last two years. Freddie Meredith took individual Bronze, the North East challenge proving too strong. Oscar Schofield had a great race in 7th with Luke Carrington continuing his good year in13th with Ben Keeley having a good run in 35th, a great hat trick for the age group having almost 40 point lead over Wirral in second. Although the team results don’t show it we finished a B team which came 9th with 299 points, beating Gateshead, Vale Royal, York, Warrington and Salford. The last B counter beat 87 other runners.

FREDDIE MEREDITH ran the race of his life to finish 3rd in the U13 boy’s race and with OSCAR SCHOFIELD , LUKE CARRINGTON and BEN KEELEY won the team race for the 3rd year in succession. Their 3rd consecutive title is a record no other club has achieved in Northern XC Championships in at least the past twenty years. We were also 1st B team thanks to strong runs from FINLAY GODDARD, MATTHEW GARDNER JAMES O’BRIEN and FIN DAY.

Things were very hectic now and races were coming in before presentations could be completed. Girls Team Manager Lisa Davies was having a very busy day as presentations came thick and fast. There was no doubting the winners of the U15 as a very strong Vale Royal team had the race winner and fourth counter in at 21, beating Sale by over a hundred points. We weren’t complaining though as another set of silver medals came our way, completing our set of five team medals from five races.

Both our U15 teams finished in silver medal positions. The boy’s team of ELLIOT SAVAGE, JAMES KNOCKTON, WILL STANWAY and JACK SPARK all had great runs to finish in the first twenty but were narrowly beaten by a very strong Wirral team. Vale Royal were comfortable winners of the girl’s race with our girls well pleased with the silver medals. KATIE STRINGER in 10th was well supported by IZZY BURKE, LIBBY HILL and CARMEN SAFRANAUSKAUS.

In the U15 Boys races locally Wirral have been very strong but our Boys pushed them very close to gain Silver medals and were way ahead of Morpeth in third.

Unusually in the Junior Men’s races we could not finish a team.

Our aim was to medal in all five female age-groups and, with both the U13 girls and U20 women, finishing in bronze medal position, we succeeded. This is a tremendous feat which we hope to emulate with our male age-group teams in the near future.

In the senior races we faced a very strong Leeds club who are current National champions, having done the double last year. They have recruited very well from the Universities. More than half their senior teams last year were University Alumni. In the women’s race Triathlete Georgia Taylor-Brown pushed Jess Judd close for much of the race with Judd only getting away in the last half mile. A fine Silver for Georgia and a creditable team Silver against an extremely strong Leeds women’s team. Last year’s winner Mhiairi McClennan was third. GEORGIA TAYLOR-BROWN is a major contender for the Tokyo Olympic Triathlon title and, as part of her preparation, turned out for Sale and ran a great race to finish 2nd in the senior women’s race and teamed up with HANNAH BROWN , ELLEN DOWNS and SOPHIE WOOD to finish runners-up in the team race.


The last race was a clash of the Titans with a field full of quality. Nigel Martin was first home in a very good eighth place and we had three in before Salford had one home but Salford packed well and it was looking close at one point but in the end we were victorious by 28 points and Leeds having started with 3rd and 5th came in well behind the two local rivals. The senior men retained their title for the 4th successive year, the first time they’ve had such a string of success in this championship. Well done to NIGEL MARTIN, GAVIN HILL, WILLIAM ONEK, JAMES WIGNALL, DANIEL KASHI and MATT BARNES.

What a successful day. Eight team medals out of ten races. Outstanding.

Thanks to Darkstar Photography for the photos.

Full results here.