Yorkshire women and men forced to settle for runners-up places

Yorkshire finished runners-up in both men's and women's races at the Inter Counties Cross Country Championships at Crofton Park, Birmingham, on Saturday. In the men's race Yorkshire were splendidly led by Leeds City's James Wilkinson.

A junior for the other major championships this season, Wilkinson stepped up to the senior ranks for the first time and ran, arguably, his best race over the country.

In a race dominated by Mo Farah, Wilkinson, a Birmingham University student, was prominent throughout and was just pipped for sixth place by his Leeds City colleague James Walsh, running for Warwickshire. Another Leeds athlete, Simon Deakin, finished 15th in the colours of Lancashire. Yorkshire champion Mark Buckingham (Holmfirth) was 23rd and former Yorkshire winner John Heneghan (Pudsey and Bramley) finished 33rd. The count was completed by Phil Hoole (Rotherham), 57th, Andy Heyes (Hallamshire), 60th, and Rob Little (Hallamshire), 80th. Lancashire were 59 points clear of Yorkshire.

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The Yorkshire women were led by Hallamshire's Hatti Dean in ninth place. In a race won by Freya Murray (Scotland East) from Steph Twell (Hampshire), Dean was prominent in the early stages but was disappointed to slip back to ninth, ruling her out of contention for a place in the World Championships. Track specialist Charlene Thomas (Wakefield) had a good run for 17th place and Dean's Hallamshire team-mate Julia Russell did well in 20th. There were also solid performances from Becky Penty (City of York), 26th, and Julie Briscoe (Wakefield) 29th. Victory for Yorkshire would have been a formality if County Champion Victoria Wilkinson had not pulled up injured. In excellent form this year, Wilkinson had a niggle in training earlier in the week but decided to run. It did not work out, however, and Yorkshire had to rely on Holmfirth's Katie Walshaw, doing well on her county debut, to complete the count in 74th.

Yorkshire also won silver medals in the under-17 men's and under-15 girls events and there were bronze medals at under-15 and under-13 boys races.

Individually, Rebecca Firth (Wakefield) was fourth in the under-13 girls race, Fergus Roberts (Richmond and Zetland) was sixth in the under-15 boys race, Katy Wood (City of York) was eighth at under-15 level and Jenny Walsh (Spenborough) was eighth in the under-17 women's race.