CRAVEN athletes punched well above their weight as four individuals claimed titles at Catterick on Saturday.

Ermysted’s George Marsh, South Craven’s Layla Kirklee, Skipton Girls’ Alice Jones and Ermysted’s Alex Thompson all won over a flat firm course of a combination of playing fields and grassed farmland.

In fact, the conditions were pretty ideal for running with an overnight frost firming up the ground and early fog clearing to leave a cold but windless day. The runners had all qualified by virtue of a top 12 finish in November’s Area Championships held at Giggleswick. There are four regions of North Yorkshire each supplying a team of 12 with guests meaning there were up to 50 or so runners in each race.

The races are mainly an individual event where the runners try to win titles, medals or selection for the North Yorkshire County Teams. County selection for an Inter-County match, at Middlesbrough on February 5, relies on runners finishing in the first 15 (or 12 in the Y7 race). In addition anyone finishing in the top 6 is automatically selected for the English Schools’ Championships to be held this year at Hop Farm, Kent in March with the final two places decided following February’s Inter-Counties match.

Ermysted’s Grammar School impressively carried Craven’s challenge in the Y7 Boys race. The school had 5 representatives in the Harrogate & Craven team with three being well placed from the cavalry charge start.

Will Oakden led on the first lap but schoolmate George Marsh took over on the full lap to claim a god medal and win Craven’s first title. Will Oakden ran on well for bronze, whilst Will Pease also of Ermysted’s worked hard to the line to ensure a top 12 place and qualification for the North Yorkshire team.

The Y7 girls ran a similar course with three South Craven athletes leading the way for our area. Lydia Eastwood challenged at the sharp end having a tremendous run to claim the silver medal whilst Izzy Patefield finished just outside the medals in fourth place. Holly Fitch, also of South Craven, was really unlucky as she ran well but came 13th just missing County selection.

The Junior Girls race (U14s) saw Layla Kirklee of South Craven leading from gun to tape for an impressive victory. She will be joined in the County team by Settle’s Charlotte Peart who came 7th and Skipton Girls’ Izzy Wright who came 12th. Settle’s Jack Sanderson was pre-race favourite in the Junior Boys race after finishing runner-up in last week’s clubs full County Championship at Sheffield.

He ran well in a leading group of 4 for both of their long laps before trying to break clear in the closing stages. Unfortunately he couldn’t break York’s Isaac Stabler who beat jack in the sprint finish. Jack’s second silver medal in a fortnight was still an impressive return.

He will be joined in the county team by Tom Hooper 6th who just pipped Ermysted’s schoolmate Ewen Wilkinson 7th for the guaranteed English Schools’ place. However both Tom, Ewen and another runner from Ermysted’s, Daniel Ridehalgh 11th as well as South Craven’s Zak Jardine 12th will run for North Yorkshire at Middlesbrough.

The Inter Boys saw Ermysted’s Dougie Segger-Staveley challenge at the sharp end and he ran on strongly to secure 4th place.