Yorkshire Championships: Duck and Bell renew rivalry as Cairess eyes double

Alexandra Bell, 800m and cross-country athlete, from Leeds
Alexandra Bell, 800m and cross-country athlete, from Leeds
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Ripon theme park Lightwater Valley will once again open its doors up today, but this time, all who enter will experience a rollercoaster ride of a slightly different variety.

Nestled in between ‘The Ultimate’, lies the field of battle for this year’s Yorkshire Cross Country Championships, with six from each race all guaranteed a chance to compete for Yorkshire at the Inter-County Championships in March, which while seemingly routine for some, can be the stuff of dreams for many across the county who make the trip over to Ripon.

Amongst the main contenders is Leeds City’s Emile Cairess who, after shocking many with the manner in which he won it last year, will once again be highly favoured to retain his crown.

The 20 year-old eased away from a field of more experienced competitors last year to win on his debut as a senior and could be equally dominant again today, despite his only race this season ending in a disappointing 50th placed finish at the European trials in Liverpool.

British internationals Claire Duck and Alexandra Bell, meanwhile, could go head to head in the senior women’s race for the first time since 2015, when Commonwealth selectee Bell narrowly saw off Duck for the win.

Both have had a taste of Yorkshire gold before and will no doubt fight hard for another, while fell and mountain specialists Emma Clayton and Kate Walshaw also enter amongst the other top competitors.

Imani Wilson, meanwhile, will attempt to defend her Under-20s women’s title after a dominant win last year, while Rotherham’s Mya Taylor also remains the key figure in the Under-17 women’s race, as well as Angus McMillan in the Under-20s men.

The stand-out name in the Under-17s Boys’ race meanwhile remains Inter-Counties Under-15 champion Joshua Dickinson, who will look to retain his Yorkshire title after a strong start to Under-17s level this season.

A very tough battle could also be in store for the Under-15s Boys’ race, with English Schools 1,500m champion Ethan Hussey remaining a strong presence on the national stage this season. He could be joined by fellow Leeds City runner Tommy Dawson, who has the pedigree to ask a few questions of Hussey.