Leeds City athletes Emile Cairess and Claire Duck, won both senior titles at the Yorkshire Cross Country Championships at Lightwater Valley, Ripon, on Saturday. Leeds also won both team titles.
Cairess, defending champion, gave arguably his best-ever performance over the country. Always looking comfortable as Steve Bayton (Hallamshire) forced the pace with Graham Rush (Cheltenham) in close attendance, the Leeds runner, a student at St Mary’s,Twickenham, suddenly moved up a gear in the second half of the race and the contest was over. He ran on serenely, opening a gap of more than half a minute over Rush who got the better of Bayton for the silver medal. It was Rush’s first Yorkshire championship. Moving to York where he is a PhD student at the university, he now has a residential qualification for Yorkshire.
Leeds expected a hard fight with defending champions Hallamshire for the team race but, in the end, ran out comfortable winners with Rotherham beating Hallamshire for the silver medals. After Cairess, Josh Woodcock-Shaw was the next Leeds runner in fourth place and then came an exceptional performance from Mike Burrett in ninth place.
Burnett, 41, won an unprecedented 18th Yorkshire senior team medal and is determined to go on the make it 20. And his latest medal was achieved with flu-like symptoms which necessitated a return to bed straight after the race.
Claire Duck, the pre-race favourite, regained her women’s title after missing last year’s race due to an international commitment.
Pudsey and Bramley’s Alex Bell, a former winner, challenged strongly in the first half of the race but was forced to drop off the pace when Duck increased the tempo.
Bell ran on strongly, comfortably clear of Leeds City’s Georgia Malir, for the silver medal.
Apart from a mixed relay in Edinburgh next weekend, it will be Bell’s last cross country of the season before the countdown to the Commonwealth Games in April where she runs the 800 metres.
Leeds won a close team race from Hallamshire with Sarah Hodgson, 9th, and Heather Sellars, 13th, backing up Duck and Malir.
Hallamshire, led by Natalia Hackett, 4th, had their fourth counter ahead of her Leeds opposite number but the Leeds strength at the front of the race made all the difference.
Rotherham, third, ended a five-year winning sequence in this event.
The juniors ran with the seniors but ran a lap less, and here Angus McMillan (City of York) and Alice Moore (Barnsley AC) were impressive winners.
At under-17 level Josh Dickinson (City of York) was untroubled whilst in the women’s race Bethan Morley (Ilkley) beat Rotherham’s Cyane Robinson with last year’s winner Mya Taylor (Rotherham) relegated to third.