Rotherham strike gold but Leeds slip

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ATHLETICS: Leeds City finished outside the medals in the Northern 12-stage road relay championship at Sefton Park, Liverpool, on Saturday but there was a surprise victory for Rotherham in the women’s six-stage race.

So often dominant in this event, Leeds were deposed by Morpeth last year. This time Liverpool Harriers won on their home course, well clear of Salford with Morpeth third and Leeds fourth.

The race was run over six long stages and six short ones. Fastest long-stage runner for Leeds was James Wilkinson (22:04) and fastest short-stage runner for them was Dale Worton (11:40).

Mike Williams took Leeds into third on stage 10 but they could not hold it even though veteran Darran Bilton was closing on Morpeth on the final stage.

Rotherham women produced a solid all-round performance. Jade Allen gave them a superb start, finishing second (13:08). Natalie Grant (13:22), Rebecca Middleton (13:47, and Annabelle Grady (13:32) held second place as Trafford, Stockport and Salford all took turns in the lead.

On the penultimate stage Natasha Hatswell (13:52) took Rotherham into the lead leaving Steph Burns (13:44) to bring the team home unchallenged.

Defending champions Wakefield took silver. Putting their strongest runners in the second half, Wakefield moved to seventh through Julie Briscoe (13:50), sixth through Helen Singleton (13:06) before Charlene Thomas stormed through to second with a superb time of 12:26. Only Stockport’s Eleanor Baker was faster and only by a second. It was a performance that augers well for Thomas’s Olympic 1,500m aspirations.

Wakefield Harrier Annabel Mason won the Schools International cross country at Perth on Saturday and led England to a comfortable team victory in the intermediate girls’ race. She beat fellow Yorkshire athlete Bronwen Owen (Scarborough) by over half a minute.

Also playing their part in England wins were James Hall (Wharfedale), 10th in the intermediate boys’ race, and Josh Schofield (City of York), seventh in the intermediate boys’ race.