A SNOW-covered Stafford Common turned into a mud bath in parts as athletes contested the annual Midland Counties cross country championships on Saturday.
While at least one other such event in the country were postponed due to the weather, the Stafford Harriers promotion got the go-ahead as runners contested ten different age group titles.
The event not only produced some excellent racing, feedback from runners, officials and spectators was for a job well done for the Harriers club and all those volunteers who braved the bitterly cold conditions.
As for the main senior races, the men’s produced a memorable encounter between Leicester Tri Club’s Conor Murphy and Aaron Scott of Notts AC, who were clear winners of the team title.
Murphy and Scott were locked together for most part, but when it came to the business end of the race, Murphy opened a crucial gap and eventually took the crown in 33.38 minutes, some seven seconds ahead of Scott, with third spot going to Stroud & District’s Tom Russell.
In the senior ladies’ race, Charnwood AC’s Juliet Doyle retained her title in a time of 24.43. She followed up her success in Not- tingham last winter to lead home again, this time by 35 seconds from Sarah Hood (Tipton Harriers, with Frances Briscoe (Coventry GH) third in 25.27.
As for the local seniors, Robin Eley (Stafford Harriers) was first home in 179th place, from Ian Hodkinson 239th, Mark Bentley 272nd, Eddie Smith 280th, Darren Mattocks 284th, Roy Clay 288th and Bill Chidlow 297th.
Harriers ladies finished 20th out of 26 teams, thanks to Steph Clayton 73rd, Tracey Gee 94th, Chris Skellern 97th, Laura Sandy 122nd, with Sandra Smith 133rd.
In the younger age groups, the Perrin brothers, Chris and James (Cannock and Stafford) were just out of the medals in the under-20 men’s, finishing fifth and 12th respectively.
There was also a good run from Ryan Ashforth (C and S), who was 16th in the under-15 boys, with Joe Smith 62nd, Jack Hod- kinson (both SH) 67th and Ashley Daniel (C&S) 88th.
Host club runner Nathan Sabin was 27th in the under-17 men’s event, with under-13 athlete Will Sammons (SH) 31st.
There were just two local runners in the under-13 girls race, with Molly Shermer (C&S) 33rd and clubmate Rachael Jones in 51st place. Amy Oliver was the sole Harrier in the u15 girls, fin- ishing 71st.