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

Giggleswick’s Mia McGoldrick and the Ermysted’s trio of George Marsh, Tom Hooper and Sam Bentham all won over the soft but quite undulating playing fields. Other than it being quite wet underfoot the conditions were ideal for running, being a cool but windless day.

The Craven runners had all qualified by virtue of a top 12 finish in November’s Harrogate and Craven Championships held at King James, Knaresborough and were joined by the other three regions of North Yorkshire, 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 3, relies on runners finishing in the first 15 (or 12 in the Y7 race). In addition, anyone finishing in the top six is automatically selected for the English Schools’ Championships to be held this year at Pontefract racecourse in March with the final 2 places decided following February’s Inter-Counties match.

The Y7 Girls saw tremendous Craven interest at the sharp end of the race as the top three at the Area Championships were battling for the medals here. Alice White and Maisie Oddy of Skipton Girls and Giggleswick’s Mia McGoldrick who pulled clear on the first of their two laps and maintained her lead for a County Title. McGoldrick’s schoolmate Poppy Matterson also gained a place in the County team by finishing 10th.

Craven Herald: The Year Seven girl leadersThe Year Seven girl leaders (Image: Submitted)

The boys’ Y7 race only had Craven interest through three athletes from Ermysted’s of whom William Parker’s 10th place was good enough for County selection.

The Y8/9 boys’ race again had Craven athletes well to the fore. Ermysted’s George Marsh was County Champion in Y7 and again when bottom of his age group last year but had only finished runner-up in November’s Area championships. He therefore had a real incentive to make it a hat-trick of County titles but knew he had his work cut out. George was quick off the start line and led a group that soon whittled down to three. By halfway round the first of his two laps, he had a lead which just widened over the rest of the race and the Gold Medal was his. Ermysted’s also had Will Oakden and Dan Hood in a chasing group of three and both lads ran on well to finish 5th and 6th respectively to secure County selection not only for Middlesbrough but also the English Schools’ race at Pontefract.

South Craven’s Oscar Timbers finished 9th to make the County team for Middlesbrough.

Craven Herald: The Y8-9 boy medalistsThe Y8-9 boy medalists (Image: Submitted)

In the girls Y8/9 race South Craven’s Holly Fitch led Craven’s challenge to secure 4th place with Giggleswick’s Camilla Hart 5th and Upper Wharfedale’s Georgia Twist 10th who all made the County team.

The Y10//11 boys’ race was probably the strongest field and arguably the best race of the day. Area champion and England international Jack Sanderson is running well at the moment and was runner-up in last week’s clubs County Championships despite being at the bottom of his age group. However, in last week’s race Ermysted’s, Tom Hooper was ahead of Sanderson in the final lap before fading. Hooper didn’t have to wait long for this rematch, and both were in a group of three who broke clear.

Hooper made a move as the group finished their second of three laps. He made a tremendous effort which broke his challengers, which also pulled Sanderson clear in second but unlike last week he could not respond and Hooper pulled away for his first ever County title. The chasing group also had significant Craven interest as Ermysted’s Ewen Wilkinson came back 4th and South Craven’s Otis Brooks 7th for County team selection.

The equivalent girls race again had Craven challenging at the sharp end. South Craven’s Layla Kirkly and Skipton Girls’ Izzy Wright were both in the leading group around the first lap. Layla ran on well for the Silver Medal whilst Izzy came 4th with South Craven’s Alice O’Sullivan 10th also making the County team.

The Senior Boys had a realistic chance of Ermysted’s having a third County Champion as Sam Bentham led the charge having won November’s Area Title. Sam actually led from gun to tape and within the first half lap had gained a significant advantage which just grew over the three-lap race. South Craven’s Sam Barber led the chase and secured the Silver Medal whilst Samesh Chotai 6th and Nathan Hird 9th, both from Ermysted’s, ran on well to gain their County Vests. In the Senior Girls’ race South Craven’s Olivia Aldham 5th, Skipton Girls’ Megan Wilkinson 8th and Giggleswick’s Layla Rostron 10th all ran well to secure County selection.

The Craven representatives should be rightly proud of their achievements on Saturday, as they underlined the strength of running in the Area, which resulted in Harrogate & Craven winning all 8 of the team awards ahead of York, Scarborough and Richmond districts. They will look forward to representing their County at Middlesbrough on Saturday 3 February, where some will have unfinished business as they try to cement selection for the National Championships at Pontefract in March.