The small band of Bury athletes who competed in Saturday’s Northern Cross Country Championships had to contend with conditions reminiscent of Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow. As well as Witton Park’s tough hills and mud that was knee deep in places; athletes had to deal with freezing gale force winds and hail that lashed them almost horizontally. Best placed Bury athlete on the day was Francis Woodcock who took 17th place in the under 13 boys race just over a minute behind the gifted Tommy Dawson of Leeds. For the under 13 girls Daisy Worthington and Erin Kenyon both did well to deal with the conditions finishing 79th and 131st respectively in the field of 200 runners.
Marcus Dey had an uncharacteristic off day, finishing 18th in the under 15 boys race. Ben Forrest ran strongly to finish 48th with Alex Bennett further down the field in 146th. Ellie Carter was the first Bury runner home in the under 15 girls race finishing 131st. Only 7 seconds separated Heledd Rimmer and Melissa Thompson who took 148th and 149th places respectively. Lucy Alcock was just over 20 seconds behind Melissa in 153rd place.
Sophie Whittaker was disappointed with her 33rd place in the under 17 womens race, vowing to put more into her training. Lauren Booth ran well to take 32nd place in the under 20 women’s event whilst Harry Stainton found the conditions very hard finishing 67th in the under 20 mens race.
Bury fielded two competitors in the senior mens race. Tony Cullen used his Iron Man strength to good effect as he took 173rd place behind winner Charlie Hulson of Sale. Mark Johnson finished in 445th position out of a field of over 700 athletes and described the race as the toughest he had ever run in. It is of considerable credit to all athletes that they completed their races in such harsh conditions.