Morpeth runner Jonny Taylor is gearing himself up for a French connection after securing a place at the European Cross-Country Championships being held this weekend.
As a result of finishing sixth in the senior men’s event at last week’s British Athletics UK Challenge Meeting in Liverpool’s Sefton Park, also incorporating European trials, Taylor has made the GB team for the championships.
The competition takes place in Toulon and Hyeres in the south of France this Sunday.
Though that is a great honour for Taylor, it means that he will miss the 110th annual North Eastern Counties Cross-Country Championships at East Park in Sedgefield, County Durham, and won’t be able to defend the senior men’s title he won on Newcastle’s Town Moor 12 months ago.
It also means that his club will be missing one of their key performers in defence of their team title, although they will still have Nick Swinburn, Lewis Timmins, Carl Avery, Ross Floyd, Peter Newton, Chris Smith, and Thomas Straughan among their remaining array of talent.
That means that even without Taylor, Morpeth will still be a formidable proposition in the senior men’s team stakes.
This is the first major cross-country competition to be held at the County Durham town for 60 years, with the last being the 1955 Northern championships held at Sedgefield Racecourse. One of the region’s newest clubs, Sedgefield Harriers, will be hosting the nine-event programme, due to get under way at 11am with the under-13 boys’ 3km event.
The senior men’s 12km event, the longest race of the day, starts at 1pm.
Senior women contest their 8.3km event at 1.55pm, and the action winds up at 2.30pm, when the under-17 men take part in their 6.1km event.
In addition to the senior men’s team challenge, Morpeth Harriers also have good chances of medals in the under-17 men’s, under-15 boys’, senior women’s and under-13 girls’ events.
Dame Allan’s Senior School in Newcastle finished 14th in the intermediate boys’ event at the English Schools Cross-Country Championship in Bedfordshire.
Daniel Melling, of Morpeth Harriers, was the squad’s second counter, finishing 54th in a 140-strong field.