CALLUM Abberley was crowned under-13 boys Midlands County cross country champion at a muddy Leamington Spa.
Abberley came into the competition under the radar after an injury hit season.
Despite two North Midlands League and a county championship win Abberley (pictured right) is a relatively inexperienced runner at this level.
His coaches and team-mates were confident in Abberley’s ability but he was yet to prove it on a big stage.
Abberley ran out well and found himself at the front of a strong field, but as the race progressed it looked as though he may pay for his strong start as he slipped back into fourth place.
As the race reached the final 400m, Abberley had moved into third place and onto the shoulder of second.
With a sprint to the finish line Abberley was able to get the better of his opponent to cross the line in second place on the day.
With the overall winner being ineligible for Midlands County qualification, Abberley was promoted to champion and claimed the title at the first time of asking.
Abberley now has the National Championships to look forward to at Woolaton Park in Nottingham on February 22.
There was more success for Burton as Alex Benfield and Cory Parker unexpectedly led the team to a silver in the under-20s men’s team event, claiming the club’s first ever team medal at a Midland Championships.
Benfield was looking for a top 20 finish but with a few noticeable absentees, he took full advantage and did his best to hang onto his older competitors.
Benfield stuck to his task and was pressured all the way around by some quality runners, but he eased through the mud to hang onto a career best fifth place, less than a minute behind overall winner Doug Musson of Notts AC.
Cory Parker, who has found the muddy conditions not to his liking this season, stuck to his task was able to finish in 14th place.
With many late withdrawals it was left to Gordy Smith to give his all in the senior men’s race.
The difficult conditions were made even more treacherous by thunderstorms, hail and strong winds mid-race.
Smith made a strong start and despite a slight wobble in the closing stages he managed to finish in an impressive 72nd place.
It was a performance made even more impressive as he collapsed accross the line suffering with symptoms of mild hypothermia.
Ian Parker, on the other hand, crossed the line with a smile on his face as he relished the tough conditions, crossing the line just under the hour in 57mins 36secs for 284th.
Eamon O’Hanlon was another good finisher as he crossed the line in 315th.
Rob Sharratt was pushed all the way by Paul Mathie, with Sharratt just getting the better of him in 336th place with Mathie in 339th.
Mollie O’Hanlon ran a tactical race in the under-15 girls race running out slowly, but makng up plenty of places as she eased through the field to take 41st place.
Ailis McFarlene continued to find her feet in her debut season at under-13 level and she made a good effort to finish in 112th place.
Myles O’Hanlon and Tom Benfield continued to give excellent support for the club effort for team glory in the under-13 boys.
O’Hanlon was first back in 76th place with Benfield in 98th place.
Nicky Long continued her way back to fitness in the senior ladies race and she was pleased to improve on last year’s position, finishing in 221st.