Leeds continue to tower above rest

Athletics: Leeds City won the men’s team title at the National Cross Country Championships at Alton Towers on Saturday to continue a remarkable sequence. They have been medallists for the last nine years, a post war record, and five times winners.

In a race won by Steve Vernon (Stockport), Leeds were led home by James Walsh, the Midlands Champion, who finished a splendid fourth. After that superb start, Leeds had James Wilkinson, a first year senior, in 21st place.

Just four places behind him came Simon Deakin, who has the remarkable record of being a counter in every one of the Leeds medal winning teams, with his best performance in the race.

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Alan Buckley was a sound 30th before the count was completed by first year senior Carl Smith (50th) and Martin Hilton (58th), who won his eighth National medal.

Yorkshire champions Hallamshire finished seventh.

Hatti Dean (Hallamshire) finished runner-up in the women’s race, another fine performance in an excellent season. She now has a complete set of medals, winning in 2009 and finishing third last year.

She beat off Liz Yelling (Bedford), but Louise Damen (Winchester) came through strongly to snatch the title.

Bingley ran superbly to take silver medals behind Charnwood in the team race. They were led by Victoria Wilkinson who finished seventh. Mary Wilkinson (30th) and Emma Clayton (31st) ran consistently and the counters were completed by Jo Buckley, 38th.

There was a win in the Under-15 girls’ race for Scarborough’s Bronwen Owen. Unbeaten this year, she had already won the Yorkshire and Northern titles.