TYNEDALE Harriers took a small contingent of athletes to the annual North-East Cross Country championships at Alnwick - and the club’s U13 girls’ team returned home with silver medals.

The five-strong team finished second overall after a string of impressive performances from Maria Gaines, Tabitha Robson, Poppy Watson, Kate Terry, and Esme Pugh.

They excelled in difficult conditions. Despite being a dry day, runners had to contend with a strong, cold wind on the hilly course.

The positions of the first three finishers for each team were calculated to generate the team scores, and the Tynedale girls finished just four points behind gold medallists Elswick Harriers, and a point ahead of third place Middlesborough AC.

The U13 girls were led home by Gaines, one of the youngest competitors on the day, who put in a fantastic performance to finish 10th individually.

Not far behind was talented multi-eventer Robson in 16th place, followed by the very closely-matched pairing of Watson and Terry, who battled each other all the way down the finishing straight in 24th and 25th place. Pugh was the final finisher in a strong 53rd place.

The Alnwick course has become a firm favourite, and hundreds of cross country enthusiasts descended on the beautiful parkland in front of the famous castle for the prestigious event.

Before the championship events got under way, there was a short race for U11 runners. William Pugh was Tynedale’s only representative. Jacob Lloyd, more used to sprints on the track, ran in the U13 race and finished in 59th place.

Tynedale were missing a few regular runners due to illness and injury. Marcus Laws, himself recovering from a heavy cold, ran well to finish 14th in the U15 boys’ race.

In the girls’ equivalent, Jess Sails battled the strong winds and was also well up the field in 15th place.

In the U20 men’s race, Joe Green was 20th in a small but very high quality field. His father, Andy Green, ran in the men’s 7.5-mile race finishing in 69th place. It was won by Morpeth’s Carl Avery.