Storm Desmond made the traditionally difficult terrain at Rossendale’s Marl Pitts course even more harsh for the athletes who braved the conditions at the final of the four Red Rose Cross Country League fixtures. This was where individual and team titles were decided.

Bury completely dominated the under 15 boys race with Marcus Dey retaining his league title by winning the race and the series. Oliver Makinson took second place, giving him second overall in the league with Ben Forrest, in his first year in the age group, taking fourth in the race and third overall in the series. Unsurprisingly Bury ran out as convincing winners of the team title. George Yates (7), Stefan Kalambouka (15), Alex Bennett (21) and Curtis Johnson (23) were Bury’s other top 25 finishers.

Francis Woodcock took the under 13 boys title by running to victory in his race. Jack Knowles (19), Oliver Donnelly (23) and Jack Andrew (30) found the heavy conditions hard to cope with and the Bury team had to settle for fourth place overall.

Sophie Whittaker has been Bury’s lone athlete in the under 17 ladies race series, but she retained her league title convincingly with her victory in her race.

Bury’s under 20 and senior ladies also secured their respective league titles, with the senior ladies dominating the field in the final race. Donna Cartwright produced her strongest race of the series to take third, just ahead of Laura Evans (4) and Caitlin Cole (5).

Caitlin’s run was good enough for her to take second place in the league, a massive improvement on her ninth place the previous year. Katie Geelan (13) ran strongly in the conditions and Nicola Harland produced her best run of the season to finish 15th. Donna’s run secured her third place overall in the Veteran Ladies league, the same position overall as the Bury team. Running as a separate age category in the senior ladies race, Bury’s under 20 athletes coped well with the conditions. Christie Cook was third finisher, two places ahead of Jennifer Smalley. The performance gave Christie third place overall in the league.

The under 20 men, competing in the senior men’s race, also took the league team title. Benn Heywood won the age category, ahead of Rob Granby (4) and Harry Stainton (5). Benn took second place in the league series overall.

The under 13 girls also won their league team title. Lead by Daisy Worthington in sixth place, the girls ran well enough to hold off Rossendale with Charlotte Farnsworth (9) and Erin Kenyon (13) producing strong runs to secure the title. Daisy took third place overall in the league.

Although depleted in numbers at the last race, Bury’s under 17 men won the league title. Sam Brooks (10) and Dominic Rostron (14) were the only local runners in the field. However, earlier performances from Patrick Watson and Iestyn Rimmer were enough to secure the title with Patrick taking fourth place overall.

The under 11 boys took second place overall in the league after some excellent individual performances. Rory Pixton ran his best race to date to take 5th place, ahead of Gilbert Vaughan (7), Noah Carter (11) and Jay Cook (19). The points scored in the final race proved crucial in giving Bury second place ahead of Clayton-le-Moors even though both teams had the same number of points.

The under 11 girls had to settle for sixth place overall in league. Freya Potts ran well to take twelfth place ahead of Abigail Howard (22) and Katie Rayner (30). It is encouraging that there are so many young athletes gaining experience and who can only get stronger. The under 15 girls took fifth place in the league with good runs from Lucy Alcock (9), Heledd Rimmer (14) and Hannah Holland (18).

Bury’s senior men were missing Ben Coop and Jim Ardin, but David Cullen produced his trademark strong run in the knee deep mud to take 12th place, just 5 seconds ahead of brother Tony (14). Benn Heywood, the winner of the under 20 race, took 22nd overall with his best run of the series. Mark Johnson (69) held off Les Smalley (70) and Giles Bennett (79) was the final counter. Bury took fifth place overall in the team series. Tony Cullen’s strong run was rewarded with third place overall in the Men’s Veterans category. League trophies will be presented to athletes at the presentation evening in Horwich on 5th March.