Exciting fight for county honours in the Humberside Cross Country Championships
A MUDDY test of strength and stamina awaited the region's runners as they battled for honours.
The Humberside Cross Country Championships were contested at Beverley Westwood, while the Lincolnshire showdown was held at Louth.
At the Humberside meeting, Clee AC put out a strong team of seven in the senior men's race.
Andy Ely was pick of the crop in 11th place, ahead of Paul Evison, James Woodhouse, Nick Gregory, John Spauls, Andrew Gristwood and Jimmy Dutch.
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The club's senior ladies also ran well, with Lisa Foster (15th), Mandy Aisthorpe (16th) and Jayne Benford (27th) performing solidly.
Wolds Vets trio Gary Coulam, Bill Ward and Neil Pattison were in action, as were ladies Jane Morley and Anne Mortimer.
The senior men's race was won by Harrow's Jim Cooper, but as he was ineligible for the Humberside championships, the title of county champ went to the next man over the line – Phill Taylor of Bridlington Road Runners.
He did well to fend off the challenge of Gregan Clarkson, the fourth-placer in this year's Cleethorpes New Year's Day 10K, and Stuart Carmichael – last year's county cross winner.
The senior ladies' race was won by Scunthorpe AC's Sarah Kemshall.
Clee AC coaches were pleased with the haul of medals in the junior categories.
Bray Davies (5th), Archie Woods (6th) and Nathan Smith (9th) claimed gold team medals in the Under-11 boys' race.
This was followed by the Under-13 girls' event, with Olivia Evans having a fine run to secure fourth place.
In the Under-13 boys' tussle, Ben Plumpton (6th), Matthew Church (7th) and Bradley Mortlock (8th) won silver team medals. Beth Barley took fourth place in the Under-15 girls' race, while in the Under-15 boys' contest, Jamie Kirkham (5th), Luke Nuttall (6th) and Thomas Nuttall (8th) won the silver team award.
For Grimsby Harriers, Henry Cullen came third in the Under-11 boys' race and Molly-Anne Welton won the Under-11 girls' contest.
A handful of runners from the area took part in the Lincolnshire County Championships at London Road, Louth.
Both the senior men's and ladies' races developed into exciting showdowns between some fine athletes.
A measure of the quality of the senior men's race was that the winner of this year's New Year's Day 10K, Richard Brown, could only manage sixth.
The battle for first place was fought out in style between Lincoln Wellington's Matt Bowser and Notts AC's Aaron Scott. No more than a few seconds separated the pair throughout the whole race.
Bowser knows he has to win races like this if he is ever to receive an international vest again – and he did the business, just beating his rival by two seconds.
In the senior ladies' race, Louth-based Natalie Farrow, who competes for Lincoln Wellington AC, was locked in a close battle with Nene Valley Harriers pair Phillipa Taylor and Cathryn Folly.
Taylor won by one second from Folly, with Farrow third, a further four seconds back.
In the junior races, Grimsby Harrier Lucy Gash had a solid race, finishing 10th in the Under-13 girls' race against rivals older than herself.
Jake O'Sullivan, who had been suffering with illness in the days leading up to the event, battled to 13th place in the Under-13 boys' race.