Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Region's Stars Visit Parliament

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Region's Stars Visit Parliament

Article excerpt

ALL ROADS - and rail - lead to London on Saturday for a huge number of the region's athletes who will be lining up in the National Cross-Country Championships.

Parliament Hill is the venue once again and representatives from 21 North East clubs will make the trip to the capital to contest the 10-race programme which will celebrate the 125th running of the senior men's contest.

The championships were first held in 1876 at Buckhurst Hill but the race was declared void when every one of the 32 starters went off course!

However, since that day the championships have now grown into a 10-race programme catering for both sexes, ages from under-13 to seniors, and on Saturday nearly 4,000 competitors will take part.

Over the years numerous athletes from the region have won a National title, though it's over a decade since the North East celebrated a senior individual gold medal.

In 1931 at Kettering, Saltwell Olympian Jack Potts was the first North East athlete to be crowned National champion and he followed that victory by winning again at Alderley Edge five years later.

In between, in 1932, it was the turn of his great rival, Elswick's Olympian Alex Burns, at Wolverton.

After 45 lean years, along came Brendan Foster and he led the field home at Parliament Hill in 1977 to help Gateshead win the team title for the fourth time in five years - 1973, 75, 76 and 77. And the Tyneside outfit were to win it twice more - 1979 and 1987.

In 1979 at Luton, Elswick's Olympic silver medallist, Mike McLeod, produced the goods to have his name etched on the individual trophy.

While there have been numerous successes in the senior men's event over the years, the same cannot be said for the senior women.

In fact, the North East has only produced one individual winner and also only one team has ever returned home with a set of gold medals.

In 1950, North Shields Poly's Anthena Gibson won at Parliament Hill, and on the same course 53 years later Chester-le-Street were crowned team champions.

However, the region can boast proudly about the number of champions it has produced in the younger age groups. …

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